Marty and I were lounging on the bed. We were home from work early and she was telling me what was happening in her office.
There was a bang downstairs. We could hear Ajax racing up the stairs. “Mom! Mom! Mom!” he yelled. He bounded into the bedroom.
“Guess what?” he said. “We had the puberty talk yesterday in school! It was awesome! And they gave us a surprise!”
Ajax was in fifth grade and this year the school was finally providing information that he found interesting.
“You got a surprise?”
“Yeah. Guess what it was? Mom, guess!”
I looked at Marty. Neither of us was sure where this was going. I wondered if it was even conceivable that anything in the fifth grade health class would be a surprise to Ajax.
“I don’t know,” I said.
“Dad, come on, you gotta guess.”
“You learned about sex?” I said.
“Nah. We already had that. And they already talked to us about what’s inside the penis and the ballsack. That wasn’t the surprise.”
“They talked about what was inside the penis?”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, they did.” Something struck him then, “but you know we didn’t get to say the curse words out loud. The kids at Westmont got to do that.”
Ajax jumped up on the bed and bounded around like he was on a trampoline.
“They got to say . . .” He lowered his voice, looked first to Marty and then to me, decided he wasn’t going to be restrained, and said proudly, “Fuck! Shit! . . .” He looked quickly at each of again to see if his assessment of the amount of license he had had been inaccurate. He must have decided he was safe because he decided to go for glory.
“They even got to say coc. . .” Ajax lowered his voice, swallowing the end of the word and then looked at Marty and me sheepishly. I thought of that great scene in Sophie’s Choice where Meryl Streep gets the wrong name for a seer sucker suit, but I said, “that will be fifteen push-ups.”
I have been giving Ajax push-ups for inappropriate language for the last couple of years. He gets five push-ups for each inappropriate word and ten if he uses the F word. I haven’t seen much change in Ajax’s speech but he can do 25 push-ups easily.
He didn’t protest the push-ups, but he didn’t stop bouncing on the bed either. He just moved on to other subjects. “You still didn’t guess the surprise.”
“What’s the surprise?” Marty said.
“Deodorant!” Ajax whipped a small vial of deodorant out of his pocket. “It’s Old Spice!” He broke into an enormous grin. He was extremely pleased with himself. “Erin says I am going to smell like Nick.”
Nick was our Nanny’s boyfriend and, if she was any judge, the epitome of what a man ought to smell like.
Ajax bounded off the bed and out the room. He was back in a few minutes smelling like he’d submerged himself in a tub of Old Spice. The smell was so powerful that Marty pushed him away from the bed with two hands.
Ajax smiled and skipped out of the room. We could hear him singing at the top of his lungs as he ran down the stairs to get a ride to school with Erin.
I looked at Marty and shook my head.
Marty laughed, “Wow that’s some deodorant. He’s not going to smell like a boy for a month.”
“Can you imagine Mr. P’s classroom this morning?”
“Oh my God, they have no windows.”
Ajax was in the “cozy” room this year, a vestibule between the doors to the regular classrooms where a group of students were placed every year. Mr. P always taught the cozy room. He had seniority so he didn’t have to but he said he liked it. I could only imagine how he liked it today with half the class reeking of Old Spice and testosterone.
“Do you suppose it’s possible to overdose on Old Spice?” I asked.
“I guess we’ll find out.”
“By the way, what do you suppose they are doing over there at Westmont?”
“I was just wondering that. Do you suppose they think it helps the boys get it out of their system?”
“Oh right,” I said. “You can’t get curse words out of a boys system. The school just wants to make sure they ennunciate. Nothing more pathetic than a boy who mumbles his curse words.”
“Sounds like Westmont has gotten pretty progressive. Maybe we should send Ajax there.”
“Naw. He can already drop the F-bomb with good diction. And now he’ll smell good doing it.”
– Jay Duret