{A Stench So Horrid}

When I was in the sixth grade (Grade 6 if you’re Canadian,) my teacher, Mrs. Lewis, had us do a science experiment. We were divided into teams, and each of us needed to bring something different to make slides of, so we could then look at them under the microscope. On the list of items to choose from, there were all kinds of things like apples, leaves, and stool samples. [Just kidding about the stool samples.] I chose to bring an onion, because it was on the list and I knew we had a 20 lb. bag of yellow onions at home.

I was so excited. (Remember: back in the ol’ elementary school days, I thought my calling in life was to be a scientist. Anything science was, for me, quite a thrill.) The night before experiment day, I sat at the counter and watched as my mom made my lunch–I’m pretty sure I got a Lunchable and a Capri Sun in my brown paper bag, which was, you know, the coolest. I was jittery and giddy to boot–I even placed my offering (the onion) in my backpack that evening, ready and waiting for all the scientific fun the next day.

I threw up (vomited) three or four times that night, and when the fortuitous morning arrived, my mom forced me to stay home from school. I was too sick to go. No amount of begging or pleading would change her mind, and I tried both. I was convinced she was ruining my life. [I really hope I am not given the responsibility to raise girls when–and if–I have children. There’s just so much drama involved.]

I spent a semi-miserable day home from school {I say “semi-,” because really–who can be fully miserable when skipping school?} and the next day was a weekend, so there were two more days off school before I got to go back. When I finally did return, all the talk of slides and science and everything I missed made me very sad indeed, but I got over it eventually.

A month or so later, I continued to wake up and go to school, donning my sloppy, unkempt black generic-brand backpack as any good middle class student should do. I noticed, though, that something about me sort of smelled, well, odd. Thinking little of the smell, I carried on through the day and the week, but soon, I became really worried: the smell was getting worse. I showered [almost] daily, and I could tell it wasn’t my self that stank. I thought that maybe my mom had gotten a different brand of laundry detergent, but some minor research disproved that theory. One day in class, I could bear the stench no longer. Sniffing all up and down my clothes, my desk and my chair, I noticed the stench becoming more pronounced as I moved closer to my backpack. Unzipping the offending knapsack, the stench grew overwhelming. I dug through my disheveled mess of homework, report cards, and long-forgotten unsigned permission slips, all the while holding my breath for fear of vomiting from the smell.

And then, I caught a glimpse of a thin orangish flake that looked suspiciously familiar. Suddenly I had a flashback–almost in slow motion–to that day, so many weeks ago, when I missed the science experiment.

Nooooo,” my mind screamed in protest, silently pleading with the Powers That Be, “say it isn’t truuuuuuueeeeeee….”

How humiliating a discovery to make right there at my desk, during the middle of class time. There, at the bottom of my backpack, rotting away as it had been for the past many weeks, lay a giant black decayed…onion.

Sometimes even today, when I go without showering for a very long time, I catch a whiff of stench…a stench so horrid, it instantly transports me back to that time: the time when a stringy-haired little girl sat at her desk, trying…trying in vain…to pretend it wasn’t she who smelled like rotten onion.

About Camille

I'm Camille. I have a butt-chin. I live in Canada. I was born in Arizona. I like Diet Dr. Pepper. Hello. You can find me on Twitter @archiveslives, Facebook at facebook.com/archivesofourlives, instagram at ArchivesLives, and elsewhere.
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11 Responses to {A Stench So Horrid}

  1. Anonymous says:

    hillarious! i love the whole elementary school reminisence(sp.?) stuff. good times, good times…

  2. Mikelle says:

    HAHA. That’s funny stuff. Was this when you guys went to Lincoln? Just curious.

    Oh, and you’re right. I’ll never believe you. But if you do get that blog up and running, please let me know…I’m looking for all the resources I can get my hands on. I’ve heard that the deals aren’t as good in Canada? Do you think that’s true?

  3. Lindsey Burnham says:

    LOVE it! I can only imagine how wretched that could smell! I’m just curious why you took a WHOLE onion instead of a small piece to class… I mean I can only imagine that you weren’t going to need very much for the experiment…

  4. Anonymous says:

    REMINISCE

    Millie,

    I never heard this story! I don’t remember it in the least…I feel like a bad sister. Nonetheless, I’m so sorry for your embarrassment. That is a horrifying travesty in sixth grade. I’m glad you survived.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Lindsey,

    She took the whole onion because she’s half Leavitt; if some is good, MORE is better!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Grandpa just read your blog. He thought you were a good writer. He wants to know if you ever sent Neva a thank you note. That is very important to him. I love you. MMMMAAMAMAMM

    We’ll be in Mesa on Monday night.

  7. lindser-lou says:

    wretched onion….
    good thing you found it at least, and not an adoring fellow “grade 6-er”.

  8. Jami says:

    camille, I aspire to be YOU…you are a modern day jan austin (that sounds like a newspaper report)…someday you are going to be famous…well in my mind you aready are, but anyways, when you are I will feel so good to know that I know YOU

  9. Anonymous says:

    only thing i’ve kept from that time in my life is a real old cross stitch, original frame and glass, circa 1920. stitched by marion (nee mclaren) morrison, kyles’ great great grandmother.bit floral in layout, a big L with flowers and stars in it, framing the phrase, “God is Love”.i nabbed it 20 years ago, it’s always said everything to me about my family.

    i guess i try to keep the good stuff, but i remember many onion moments too.
    sometimes i disregard my internal onion.happy times.

  10. Anonymous says:

    a correction,marion ballantine mclaren, b.28 dec 1868,glasgow,scotland,d.22 sep,1940, vermilion,alberta,married ballie wilson, b.6 aug 1866, ormiston, scotland, d. 29 may,1935,vermilion, alberta, these are the parents of kyles’ moms’ moms’mom. sorry for the memory gap, had to check with granny.
    that’s the marion mclaren i meant, the one that made my cross stitch treasure.

  11. Anonymous says:

    grade 6,that’s so true, we do say it different.
    you speak american, canadian, proper english, and french. wow. my head hurts at the concept. whole lot o’ thinkin’ goin’ on there, i’d say.
    ‘eh.
    ‘love it.

    (i know, doctor calls it “apostrophe obsession syndrome”)

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