To pick up where we left off . . .
As I walked down Carroll Street from Fourth Avenue, I found the water level getting higher. Suddenly. Within three steps I found myself waist deep in sewage.
This is, by the way, not an exaggeration. I had to lift my purse in the air so that my iPhone didn't get saturated. In sewage.
I could almost feel the bacteria creeping through my epidermis. Except for the time that I stepped inside rat guts in Central Park on Thanksgiving Day, I have never been so scheeved. But even slipping in rat intestines couldn't compare to swimming in sewage. WIth the rat, it was only my foot, inside a shoe, that was immersed. In the sewage situation, it was my whole body, a multi sensory shitstorm.
Just as it appeared I might be forced to doggie paddle my way down to Third Avenue, the water level dropped and soon I was on dry land again. A gaggle of mechanics at a car repair shop were standing under their awning, watching me. They were laughing their asses off.
"Hey," one of them shouted, "That's sewer water,"
"I know!" I shrieked back. I stood in front of them, my clothes so sopping set that my skirt was hanging nearly falling off form the weight of the water.
I then speed walked the rest of the block to Primo's camp, my skins crawling. At drop off, I'd noticed a rack of T shirts in the from room and this seemed incredibly fortuitous now, since I estimated that I could tolerate another two minutes of being in the swear clothes before I had a vomiting fit. I would be stripping down naked in two minutes and it would really be preferable that there be another item of clothing for me to wear at that point because otherwise Primo could never show hs face back in camp, much less my face. So i'd change into a T shirt. I only hoped they had one large enough to cover my ss. Because there was no doubt in my mind that if they did not, I'd walk home bottom-less. Done and done. Yes, it would be humiliating but it was better than catching cholera. I know you can't catch cholera from keepings sewage-sokaed clothes on for five extra minutes but what can I tell you? I wasn't thinking rationally. I was deranged.
Thirty seconds later I was at Primo's camp.
"MOMMY!" Primo yelled, "Did you see the rain?"
"Yes," I replied, "As a matter of fact I did."
And then turning to the gaggle of teenager counselors by the door I said," I just swam in sewage. On Fourth Avenue."
They looked at me blankly, like I was speaking another language. I realized they kind of couldn't care less but I had to tell someone about it immediately. So I continued.
"It was up to my waist. I'm not kidding. Can you smell this? Can you smell the sewer on me?"
One of the guy teenagers said, "Ummm, yeah?" in an attempt to get me to wrap the crazy tirade up.
"I need a T shirt. The biggest one you've got."
He rifled through the rack of T shirts and handed me one which was XXL, the which I took directly into the bathroom. I then peeled off my skirt and shirt and hoodie and deposited them in the garbage. It was a good thing I haven't worn an attractive piece of clothing in five months since I had the baby or else I might have lost some decent apparel. I had to pause when I got to my underwear. That stumped me. On the one hand, it was as soaked in sewage as the rest and should go. On the other hand, the chance that I'd have to cross another sewer rive on the way home was pretty high and if I had to swim in sewage again WITHOUT ANY UNDERWEAR ON, I'd die. I wouldn't wait around to see what VD floated up inside of my privates. I'd just perish, period, on the spot.Better a compromised barrier than no barrier at all. So the underwear stayed on.
Before I put on the clean T shirt, I gave myself a bath in the bathroom sink. A half bath, from the waist down. It was tricky to scrub my legs in the tiny sink but, by George, I managed it. I then washed my shoes, and dried off with paper towels. Then I put on the XXL T shirt which came nearly to my knees, thankfully.
"Mommy what happened to your clothes?" Primo asked, laughing.
"Garbage," I replied, "They were compromised,"
"Mommy, no offense but you look like a crazy person," he observed, still laughing.
"I am aware of that," I told him, "Its OK. I just hope you don't have to go through the sewage on the way home. Let's just keep our wits about us."
He didn't have to, incidentally, I circumvented the massive puddles by walking down Third Avenues which for some reason was untouched. There was still Armaggedon like thunder and lightening but by this point that was child's play to me. When we reached my grandmother's door, she stood there speed less.
"Wat de hell happen to you?" she finally managed.
"I can't talk about it right now," I told her, " I have to get in the shower."
You can imagine the zeal with which I scrubbed my body clean then . . . . and later that night . . . and again the next morning. I was like Lady Macbeth with the damn spot. I just couldn't get clean enough. For a while I thought the sewage incident might send me over the edge of sanity, take me to a land of OCD from which I'd never return. They'd coin a new expression after me, "She's just one sewage swim away from the looney bin."
But after three showers, I felt satisfied. I had no open wounds, thankfully, and I hadn't drink the stuff. I might avoid cholera after all.
The next day, when I dropped Primo off at camp, I shuddered crossing Carroll Street. Wouldn't you?