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Robert St. John

Restaurateur, author, enthusiastic traveler, & world-class eater.

New Carpet

May 7, 2007

New Carpet

I purchased new carpeting for my son’s room last week.

You wouldn’t believe how badly a five-year old boy’s carpet can look and smell after a few short years. Stains and spots were scattered from the center of the room to its most remote corners. With some we knew the origin, others remained a mystery. Over the years we have steam cleaned the short-piled Berber several times but the spots and stains always returned in a matter of weeks.

My wife and I don’t allow eating outside of the kitchen, the dogs are housebroken, and there are no remaining roof leaks from Hurricane Katrina, but still there were spots and stains, and that smell.

One becomes accustomed to all manner of unpleasant odors when raising a boy, but this particular smell was above and beyond that of a normal kindergartener’s capabilities.

In the last few weeks the funk had grown so strong that we had to keep his door closed during the day. I have no idea how he slept in there with that rancid odor but it never seemed to bother him. He slept soundly and never once mentioned the stench. I chalked it up to being five-years old and unconcerned with matters that don’t involve robots, ninjas, SpongeBob, or eating.

Finally my wife reached her breaking point and called the flooring supplier to order new carpeting for both my son and daughter’s rooms (he spends time in there, too).

On the day the carpet was scheduled to be installed, my wife was frantically cleaning out closets, putting toys back in boxes, and throwing away useless junk and knickknacks. I was outside working on a project when she emerged from the back of the house holding a small, oval-shaped object at arms length. I watched through the windows as she inched her way through the den— slow and deliberate— as if she were carrying a small vile of nuclear waste. Her eyes were teary and squinted, her nose crinkled, as she gradually made her way outside.

I don’t know the exact shelf life of Easter eggs, but I am sure that five weeks is about four weeks, six and a half days too long.

Somewhere in the bowels of the boy’s room, among the toy trucks and baseballs, under the superhero costumes, and deep inside a basket in a back corner of the remote wasteland that is a five-year old’s domain was a lone, faded pastel Easter egg. It had a crack in it and I couldn’t tell if it was green from dye or exposure.

The smell was gone instantly; the stains were just stains after all. In the excitement that is a candy-laden Easter, the egg— a sole survivor of the day’s hunt— had made its way into an isolated hiding place where it lay in wait until it began to smell like, well… “The last one out is a rotten egg,” has never been a truer statement.

A few months ago I came across a photograph of my babysitter, Ned. She and I were hunting Easter eggs in my grandmother’s backyard. I looked to be about five-years old. After the recent egg incident I thought of Ned. She used to collect all of our eggs at the end of the day, peel, and eat them. She loved boiled eggs whether they were dyed or not.

I have never been a fan of boiled eggs. Maybe it was because I was always saving mine for Ned. It could be that, as a child, I might have smelled one after it sat at room temperature for several days.

My son loves his new carpet. He likes to wrestle on it. The other day he took me to his room, got down on his knees, rubbed his hand slowly over the carpet’s surface, and in an affected cartoon voice, looked up at me and said, “Feel the power of the plush.” Then he tackled me and put me into a headlock.

The wrestling is fun, but that lone, smelly egg cost me $3,000 in new carpeting. I miss Ned more and more everyday.

One day in the not too distant future the carpet won’t have to be steam cleaned every three months, and I guess that’s a good thing. But the house will be quiet, it will smell of inactivity, and no one will ask me to wrestle. In the end, the privilege of being a parent is worth every stain and smell, though you can be assured that next year I’ll be using plastic eggs at Easter.


The World’s Last Deviled Egg

I have to make a batch for the guests and a batch for my kids. They love them.

1 dozen Eggs, hard boiled, peeled and cut in half, lengthwise
2 tsp. White balsamic vinegar
1 /3 cup Mayonnaise
1 /4 cup Sour cream
1 TBL Pickle Relish
1 1 /2 tsp Salt
1 Tbl Creole Mustard
2 tsp Yellow mustard
1 /8 tsp White Pepper
1 /8 tsp Garlic, granulated
Paprika and fresh parsley to garnish (optional)

Remove the yolks from the hard cooked eggs and place in a mixing bowl. Add all ingredients and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Use a pastry bag to fill the egg whites. Sprinkle with paprika fresh parsley.

Yield: 24

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