The following Public Service Announcement is brought to you by the still-vacationing Cape Buffalo clan.
Though you may fanatically rinse all beach toys before they go back into the carrier and trunk of your car in the hot summer sun, you are screwed beyond hope when you don't carefully check the kids' new stash of beach treasures for live shellfish.
Last week we down the Cape when we met Kiddo's super BFF in Chatham for a playdate. I spun through the Dunkins Drive Thru for milk and cookies and one of them (they wouldn't confess which one- clever little buggers) spilled milk all over the back seat. No problem, I said, that's why I have leather seats. The mess cleaned up easily and I thought nothing of it.
Next day, I started to smell something moderately funky in the general area of the back seat. "Great", I thought "the milk must have gotten into the carpeting- it will stop stinking in a few days." As the day wore on, however I knew what I was smelling wasn't milk. It was like an acrid cross between baby vomit and dumpster juice and it was getting worse.
I left the back windows open overnight and discovered the next morning that my car was full of flies. That's when I turned my attention to the trunk. Did something fall out of a bag last time I went shopping? By now, that something would have to be a T-Bone, carton of buttermilk, and cracked jar of pickled herring, all in the same bag to achieve this particular level of stank.
I took out the beach toys, folding chairs, emergency blankets, and other assorted crap- all of which had been steeped in l'eau de ass for three or four days. I peeled back the floor mat and looked around in the spare tire region. Nothing down there.
Then I remembered the time I was coming home for Christmas break college with all my dirty laundry and my hamster who got loose from his box and lived in my car for the better part of 6 months. Shut up, I'm serious. I left him food and water at regular intervals and finally found him when the weather got warm and he was sick of being in the hot car. Once I was able to capture him, I set him free because I figured he'd never be happy living in a cage after having free reign of my exhaust manifold for that long. I tell you this only because after I checked my trunk for rotting food, I was sure something had crawled into the pipes and died.
While I examined the contents of my car (which were now strewn across the driveway), I figured I'd put some things back in the garage. I picked up the mesh beach toy bag and then I knew. At the bottom of the bag were several sets of slipper shells that appeared to have been neatly stacked upon one another when placed into the bag alive. And who, in death, had come to emit the stankiest stank ever achieved by such little limpets.