Cautionary note: do not read this if you have a weak stomach or a sensitive nature.
On Friday, I was picked up from work by a husband who hadn’t eaten all day, a daughter who had not had a nap and the dog, who seemed fine. The husband and the daughter both had things to tell me and they both were telling me at the same time. I admit my mind fluttered back to my desk, noting how calm and quiet that space was in comparison.
Still, it was Friday, so things couldn’t be all bad. We could still turn this night around. The first thing we needed was food, so we stopped at our new favorite place, just about a mile from home to grab dinner to go. Things were looking up. But, we had forgotten one essential fact: it was Friday the 13th and our luck had run out.
A sudden retching sound emanated from the dog. I looked back from the passenger seat just in time to see him launch hot liquid vomit all over the back seat.
“What just happened?” Ben asked.
“Hoover puked,” I said as I started looking in my bag for something to soak up some of the barf.
And then the stench hit. It was by far the worst thing I have ever smelled in thirty five years on a smelly plant. It was the kind of sickly stench that made your good sense tell you to simply run. But we couldn’t run.
The stink triggered Ben’s gag reflex and he had to roll down his window and literally stick his head out of it while driving. Dangerous? Maybe, but there was no way in hell we were going to stop until we were at home and could do something about that awful stench. I rolled down the rest of the windows and opened the sunroof while Nora, who was nearest the pile, chanted, “It smells so bad, it smells so bad, it smells so bad,” in a sickened, yet fascinated tone of voice. Meanwhile, I was convulsing with the laughter of a mad woman. I firmly believe if I had stopped laughing, I would have barfed.
“Did he eat shit?” Ben asked in disbelief. He says now that he said it under his breath so Nora couldn’t hear, but I say in such situations, there’s no hope of shielding the girl from cussing. This is exactly the kind of situation swearing was invented to handle.
Thankfully, we were close to home. We all turned our faces toward the fresh air streaming in through the windows. The second we hit the driveway Ben and I sprang from the car, he sent the dog to the backyard (perhaps forever) and I released Nora from her carseat and set her on the lawn. We took deep gulps of vomit-free air.
Ben gathered cleaning supplies while I gathered my nerve. I had to be the one to clean it, or there would be human vomit to add to the mix. I had rubber gloves, several rolls of paper towels and a jug of enzymatic cleaner.
The first thing I discovered was that, yes, in fact, Hoover had eaten shit. And I can now confidently answer that eternal question, “What smells worse than dog shit?” with “Dog shit that has been eaten by a dog and then vomited up in a confined space.”
I cleaned for an hour in the twilight and then the dark. Occasionally, Hoover let out a woof of protest from the back yard, to which I thought, “Bitch, please.”
I removed the back seat, dumping at least half a jug of cleaner over the seat and seatbelt straps. I scrubbed the bare metal that remained. I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed again, thinking all the while, it would have been so much easier if he had merely crapped in the backseat, rather than projectile vomited bile with turds in it.
When I was done cleaning, I set the seats in the backyard under the covered patio to air dry overnight. I re-entered the house a hero. Out of admiration and solidarity (and perhaps a bit of guilt), Ben had been cleaning the house the entire time I was cleaning the car. I brought Hoover straight to the bathroom for inspection, amazingly, he had not a speck of vomit on him, well, on the outside anyway. I briefly considered force-feeding him an entire tube of toothpaste, but decided to take the hottest shower of my life instead.
I then sat down to a cup of hot tea and dinner.
After dinner, Ben checked the car with a flashlight. He reported there were still several issues. “There’s clean, then there’s really clean, then there’s work-at-the-Mayo-Clinic-clean, then there’s work-at-the-Mayo-Clinic-and-have-OCD clean.” Guess which guy Ben is? Thankfully, at this point, the odor was knocked down enough to prevent him tossing his cookies, so he went out to put what we thought would be the final shine on it.
But Saturday morning the stench remained. We set to work again, removing the seat belts and the plastic covered insulation under the seats and scrubbed everything again.
Then I drove to Costco with no backseat whatsoever, just bare metal, and could still smell it. I thought I was imagining things until I got home and had Ben verify. It still stank.
By Sunday we were ready for Plan C. Throw out the back seat and get a replacement from the junk yard. However the only seat from the same make and model car was serving as a bridge over an oily mud puddle. Granted, that would be an improvement over one besmirched by dog shit and vomit, but only a slight one.
As of this morning, the car is still without a back seat. We are formulating Plan D, which may involve putting the engine from this car into a different, unsoiled car. But we have one fact to cling to: we are still alive.
Surviving something like this feels like a major victory and victories are never due to the efforts of just one person or family. So, we would like to offer our profound thanks as follows:
- To the designers of the Mercedes W123 body style (late seventies to early 80s) for having the foresight to make the back seat removable,
- To the makers of Nature’s Miracle enzymatic cleaner, which magically removes the very nastiest of smells — provided it can actually reach the smell (asking it to penetrate 30-year-old horse hair stuffing is asking a bit much),
- To Pick-N-Pull Auto Recycling, for only charging $20 for a new back seat – we’ll find one eventually,
- To the weather, for not pouring down rain while we cleaned, and
- To whatever force in the universe is responsible for preventing further vomiting,