We have been talking for awhile about putting together a neighborhood event where we could meet the folks that live on our street. Lover bit the bullet and got together some invitations and we walked from house to house in the blistering Sunday afternoon heat a few weeks back and passed out the invitations.
She did a great job setting up the cookout and I made it home from work just in time to welcome folks to our home. We ended up having 4 families show up (along with their 10 kids) and the hot dogs and hamburgers were flying off the grill. The ladies gathered on the lawn and several of us manly men ended up standing out by the fence watching the kids run to and fro.
And then it got awkward.
As the kids ran past us for the umpteenth time, several of us caught a whiff of a foul odor. Suspecting the tiny culprits prancing at our feet, we went into full detective mode. The ladies joined us as we sniffed bottoms, did visual checks, and asked if kids had made poo poo. After a minute or two of searching, we found nothing.
I continued to stand and talk with the dads while Lover rejoined the ladies in a conversation circle. I began to suspect that one of the two Mormon lawyers standing near me was the guilty party. Maybe the potato salad was the cause? They were both wearing sunglasses and seemed possibly guilty of the offense.
At one point I muttered something about "perhaps a cat was back here" as a way to let the guilty party off the hook. The smell was overwhelming and in the sweltering heat it was just getting worse and worse.
The party ended when the kids hit meldown stage, and everyone left and agreed that we should do this more often. It was a great evening and Lover and I cleaned up and came back into the comfort of air condition and laughed as we talked about everything.
We couldn't stop laughing about the mysterious, awful odor and we went to bed feeling like we had made great progress in building new friendships. It was encouraging to take a step outside of our comfort zone and invest in the people surrounding us. I thought that night about how it literally does "stink" to build new friendships...it just takes time to get to a place of comfort and ease. In the meantime, it's hundreds of starts and stops ("So, what is your favorite music?"), misunderstandings and miscommunications ("So, what does it mean that you're the bishop of the local LDS group?"). It takes a ton of work...but we believe it's worth it and so we put up with the initial "stench" because we feel the reward will be sweet.
The next morning, I was sitting on the couch with Titus and it hit me:
That stink wasn't the Mormon lawyers. It was me!
We had recently noticed some fireants crawling near Sam's sandbox and were understandably worried that they would bite him if we didn't get rid of them. I had a potent powder (smelled like rotten eggs spiked with sulfur) that dealt with ants, and I spread it all around the sandbox and surrounding areas. The stuff was just toxic.
After a few days of the sprinklers running in the backyard, the powder was no longer visible. And the evening of the bbq came and I thought nothing of it...
But it reeked. And we all smelled it.
And I'm sure all of the dads think it was me.