I have recently finished reading a great little book written by a Jewish author the title of which is, `Hope, A Tragedy.` The author, Shalom Auslander has written a little gem of a novel in which a Jewish family move away from the hustle and bustle of New York to live in a rural location in a farmhouse. What they are not told by the estate agent is that an elderly and absolutely foul mouthed Anne Frank is living in the attic. She has been in hiding up there for forty odd years, surviving by eating the neighbours` cats and any other unfortunate creatures who stray into her space. Her toilet habits are abysmal and as a result, an all pervading, hideous stench gradually fills the farmhouse once the air conditioning is switched on. The finer details of her attic existence are slowly released to the reader in a visceral and incredibly pungent fashion, page by smelly page. The book made me laugh out loud even though the unfolding tale does indeed become tragic for one of the characters and it has divided its readers, some of whom find it terribly offensive but I am not one of them. I loved it and I`m a huge fan of Auslander. (What a handsome geezer.)
About a year ago and as teenagers often do, (grandparents take note) my grandson came to live with his grandfather which as some of you are aware, is where I currently reside. I can`t help but be reminded of Hope A Tragedy when I consider what it is like to share a space with my grandson, who I love dearly it goes without saying. Mind you, my grandson is not at all foul mouthed, far from it he is an extremely well mannered lad and he isn`t smelly however, some of his mates could do with a bit of a scrub up!
Living with my grandson is a bit like living with a ghost, he rarely comes downstairs except to gather more food to take back upstairs with him and he does it ever so quietly, especially if he is having a clear out of crockery which he piles up at the foot of his bed until it is nearly falling over. One minute the sink is empty, the next about a week`s accumulation of dishes and plates adorn it, lovingly collected by my grandson. “I`ll do it in a bit Nan,” he says if I cop him in the kitchen before he quietly pads back upstairs, never to be seen again that same day. His kitchen visits are often nocturnal and only realised when I open a cupboard or the fridge and discover half a ton of food has been quietly spirited away. I don`t mind, I like him to eat plenty.
My grandson occupies a small box room at the front of the house, he has a heavy velvet curtain drawn at all times and lies in bed or on the bed, creating and producing his own special brand of music, a kind of grungy, hip hop rap which is really rather good. When I asked him recently if he would like to move to the much more spacious back bedroom he replied, “No Nan, I like it in here.” I suppose his room could be likened to a womb which may be part of the attraction. In the day time he trips to the bathroom where he often makes all of those ghastly noises that boys make when they go to have a wash.
On a Friday or Saturday night my grandson leaves the confines of his reclusive existence to go and “do a gig Nan,” often at The Institute in town. He is doing very well and gaining a healthy following. When I get up the next morning I always know when his mates are kipping on the floor in the front room because the first thing that hits me is the smell of their feet which I can only describe as proper pongy. This aroma is often accompanied by all sorts of other scents like joss sticks, the occasional whiff of marijuana, old, cold pizza`s half eaten or with just the cheese filled crust eaten and the rest remaining, (a sight which never fails to bemuse me) and a host of other smells which I won`t go into here but they`re all male and they`re all pungent, rather like Anne Frank in the novel I mentioned. They are all lovely boys though, very polite and respectful and welcome in our home which I hasten to add, Anne Frank of the novel, would not be!
Boys, they are sometimes so strange. My son texted me yesterday, he lives in Switzerland. He said, “MOTHER I HAVE HURT MY EAR.” “How son?” I texted back to him. “I WAS DOING SOME SILLY TRICKS ON STAGE, (he`s an actor) AND I TRIED TO BLOW MILK OUT OF MY TEAR DUCTS BUT IT`S ALL GONE INTO MY EAR CANAL INSTEAD AND NOW I`M DEAF.” Naturally I replied sympathetically by texting “Pardon?” “OH VERY GOOD MOTHER, VERY HUMOUROUS,” he texted me back but can you imagine what that will smell like in a couple more days! It doesn`t bear thinking about……