Friday, September 24, 2010

The Mutable Pungence Of Infantile Saliva (with one helluva tangent!)

Drool.  It is one of the realities of rearing a child (and/or owning a puppy) that people often fail to discuss with new parents.  It is also pervasive and ever-flowing--like wine at a party co-headlined by Jesus & Bacchus--ESPECIALLY with a child who is teething.  It is not necessarily the copious amount of droolage that the child will besmear itself with but rather how much will get on you...and all of your stuff.  Microfiber furniture?  Moistened.  Computer keyboard while said child sits on lap?  Slathered.  Face while holding child up in air?  Splattered.

A slobbering, teething child, while unnecessarily wet is not in and of itself inherently disgusting.  It's actually kind of endearing in a way--seeing that big, moist smile turned up at you as rivulets of saliva course in a southerly direction from lips to chin to chest to floor.  There is even a grace period where said saliva seems to be more like water than sputum.  How long this period lasts is arcane...but, inevitably, at some changes.  You see, somewhere along the way Timmy's spit began to smell, well, like spit. I'm not sure when or where it happened...but the bouquet is undeniable. You see, early on, an infant's saliva doesn't really have a's just sorta there--again, like water, I suppose. At some point, however, it attains that distinctly salival wang that is both pungent and unpleasant.  Worse, it's incredibly pervasive; once it's in your nose, it's nauseum.

The problem is that there are very few things that smell like saliva or that conjure up a salival-oriented recollection that is either positive or pleasurable (let's keep it clean people--minds out of the gutter. Let's make like Wilde and keep our eyes on the stars, shall we?) For me the most disgusting salival stench is that of cream cheese that has caked itself into the corner of my mouth. Seeing this in public speakers (mostly teachers and professors) causes my gorge to rise. You know what I'm talking about--that little bit of...whathaveyou that appears mysteriously at the corners of their mouths.  There's usually a faint but distinct smacking noise that accompanies the appearance of this gunk--a sound that is both wet and thick.  That's what I think of when I find that there is a hidden payload of softened cream-cheese hiding in the bunkers of my mouth-corners.  There is just something about that sebaceous scent of the mixture of melting cream cheese and spit that makes me want to make like a model from Milan after a massive meal of meaty magnitude (a.k.a. vomit).

Coincidentally, as Timmy's spittle began to smell, he also began to enjoy shoving his hands into his mouth and then touching things. And by things I mean EVERYTHING. And by everything, I mean specifically, my eyes, nose, and mouth. Nothing is quite as disgusting as having a spit-laden hand shoved into my mouth and then two pudgy little fingers shoved deftly up into a nostril thereby securing that the smell of our commingling saliva is firmly caked upon the hairs in my nose (it's a double-edged sword--those very same hairs that are now retaining the pungency of two brands of saliva coming together as one, also prevent certain pathogens and other particles of filth from entering my nose, thereby providing me with those AMAZING hard boogers that you want to pick but then you DON'T want to because you kinda want to save it but you KNOW you won't be able to wait until later (and, secretly, you're afraid that they'll get moistened, which would thus ruin the experience for you) so you stop whatever you're doing and try to find a secluded place (or exhibitionist, you!) and transform your nostrils into a makeshift booger orchard during the height of booger-picking season and you go to town baby! I mean you're a good three or four inches deep into your own face trying to get to the root of the booger (because if you break it in half you're sorta defeating the purpose of the SECOND best part of this nasal-odyssey: the post-pick-moment-of-examination-and-admiration) before you even realize, "Holy shit! I'm in up to my wrist!" And then you have that moment of release where you feel the individual tendrils that the booger has attached to your nose hairs breaking one-by-one like the strings on Fate's tapestry

(which isn't that terrible of an analogy as you are acting as the hand (or finger(s)) of Fate for this one lucky green crystal of awesomeness) until finally it breaks free and you have it, you REALLY HAVE IT! resting comfortably on your fingertip; THAT'S when the afterglow really kicks in. You want to light a cigarette and just bask but you know that you can't--I mean absolutely can't because you have work to do. You're now like a booger archaeologist, uncovering a fossil that the world has never seen (and, sadly, will never see again--boogers are like snowflakes people, the only difference is that the former are warm and moist and the latter are as cold as ice and moisten only when they land on your tongue...which, I mean I guess that's another similarity...

A moment's digression, if you will allow it (as if this tangent hasn't been enough of one): I would MUCH prefer to be around someone picking their nose in public than I would someone clipping their finger- and/or toenails. Both are things that are arguably private activities that people should engage in in the seclusion of their own homes and yet both are fairly prevalent, at least on Staten Island express buses and the ferry and Manhattan trains...but there's something compelling about a guy picking his nose--you're almost rooting for him (Wakka Wakka Wakka) to come out with something big. Seriously. Pay attention the next time you see someone digging for gold on the train--look around you and see how many people are stealing glances at the guy (more often than not--most women are too prissy to allow themselves such pleasure in public) to see whether he comes out with something epic. Everyone is secretly hoping that it's one of those gooey ones that leave a long stringy symbiotic trail back to its host like a booger-parasite--something that will make their mouths water as if they are just about to throw up. It's like a train wreck--you want to look away...but can you? Really?  REALLY?  The irrefutable answer is no. You WANT to see that hefty blob of goo plop out of that guy's nose and onto his outstretched finger--waiting like a baby bird for its mother's regurgitated payload of digested fat and connective tissue--it's ambrosia baby!  Anyway, it's almost like his nose is giving birth to something simultaneously terrible and beautiful. Clipping your nails in public is just gross. The sound makes me want to throw up. No one wants to see that. The booger guy? What's more tragically beautiful than witnessing the simultaneous birth and death of something his body produced? You're witnessing the entire lifetime of that little bugger (WAKKA WAKKA WAKKA) pass by in the blink of an eye (better not rub that eye though! You might conjunct a vitis!  Get it?  GET IT!?) You're essentially playing a voyeuristic God, observing with indifference the existential struggles of a unique physical entity...isn't it exhilarating!?


Anywho, so you begin to inspect it (the booger gold for ye of such short attention sp--hey is that a kite???).  First you take a straight-on look at it...but then you begin to examine it from different angles, gently moving it around with your pointer finger and thumb (BUT NOT ROLLING IT...NOT YET...FOR THE LOVE OF GOD NOT YET!), feeling its textures, noting the viridian hues that seem almost to glow if you hold the boog up to the light. Then...the big moment comes: you must rid yourself of your payload. You pretty much have three options depending upon its level of malleability. You can simply flick it, like you're going for a paper-football field goal, (FTW!--LITERALLY!) The payoff for this is pretty low unless you somehow manage to get some MASSIVE distance on it, you launch it from some great height and can watch it fall (Top of the Rock, anyone?) or it happens to land on someone's shoulder. I think that happened to my Mom once. I might be misremembering it (Roger Clemens, everyone!  ::Round of applause::). It might've been Purell that squirted errantly onto someone's expensive suit. I'm pretty sure it was that...but only 99.9% sure.  Either way I'll be in trouble for mentioning this. Anyway--if your treasure (for some reason I'm picturing Gollum calling it his precious...HIS PRECIOUS!) has just a little bit of squish to it, you can do the roll-and-flick (which stands in direct opposition to George Carlin's "roll it and put it in your pocket for safe-keeping" approach). This is the least-effective method of dismissal because there is a high likelihood that, once balled up, the booger will develop an almost magical stickiness to it, thus thwarting your efforts to flick it to oblivion. More often than not, you will wind up with it stuck to the nail of the afflicted (a-"flick"-ted, get it? GET IT!?) finger thus beginning a sisyphean endeavor. You'll be better off just going with method number three at this point BUT you will get points for tenacity if you stick with it (plus, with all that time and effort spent already, don't you want that sense of accomplishment when you finally DO manage to get rid of it? I thought you would. Good for you.) The only remaining option is the wipe-and-drag. The least couth of the options (seriously--can you think of anything that has EVER been called "couth"? It's always about the negative--things are UN-couth but never couth. The glass is half full people! Get on board the couth train! WHOO WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!), the wipe-and-drag is really just a last resort. Seriously--it's gross seeing the smear that it leaves as you roll it along whatever surface you're leaving it to die on. It's almost like a slug. You don't want to think of something you just pulled from your nose as being slug-like, right?

So yeah, the moral of this tangent: don't pick and flick--you're robbing yourself of some much deserved pleasure and entertainment.

(Wow, what a tangent that was, huh!? Even I wasn't expecting things to turn out that way mean...there it was, clear as day, in print before our very eyes! Alright, so where were we? Ah, yes--Timmy's spit.)

So yeah, it's amazing how many different parts of his body he can manage to plaster with his spittle. I was lying down with him before trying to get him down for a nap and I went to tickle his underarm with my nose and, BAM!, there it was: spit smell. IN the armpit! Incredible. Don't even get me started on his feet. The boy doesn't walk yet but he DOES stand up quite a bit in his Exersaucer and whenever we have him standing up when we play with him. Needless to say, his feet accumulate a certain amount of grime, which goes unnoticed...except for when it ends up in my mouth or nose. How does that happen? Easy! Timmy loves to play with his feet. He'll grab his cute little toes and pull back on them as he straightens his cute, pudgy little legs...and will eventually put one of his cute little feet into his mouth and slobber all over it like a dog with a chew toy (I know, I know--I could've gone with a baby and a chew toy...but seriously, that's redundant. Socks and sandals people.  Or just socks if you're of Einstein's ilk.) Whether that foot then gets rubbed across my face or is first handled by his fingers and then THEY get smudged across my face or shoved up my nose as he tugs at my nostrils is irrelevant; the bottom-line is that I wind up with that sickly-sweet smell indelibly bonded to my smell receptors.

Upon further reflection, I suppose the appearance of the stink is likely associable to the commencement of Timmy's solid food-eating. Perhaps the panoply of orange- and yellow-foods that he has consumed has somehow altered his mouth...chemistry...? Yeah. It's the only thing that I can think of. I mean, his formula smells like spoiled soy milk but it never changed the smell of his saliva. Sure it stunk to high hell when he burped or spit up...but he never had "formula breath." Come to think of it, I don't think he really has "sweet potato breath" or "squash breath"'s just the saliva. Maybe I can ask someone who studies saliva. What would that person be called though? A salivagist? A salivologist?


Wow. Google is coming up short BIG-TIME here! Apparently Dog Saliva might be the Next Wonder Drug, at least according to the Alaska Science Forum...but no technical term for a saliva-savant here. Well, if no one else will do it, I'll take the reins. Right here and now, making it official...(you're WITNESSING HISTORY here, people!): I'm going with salivagist as the official, universally recognized term for someone who studies saliva.

Long live salivagy (yup, you guessed it--it's the study of saliva. That's two, count 'em, TWO terms coined in this one entry!)--my guess is that it will be the number-one course of study chosen by college-bound students in America within the next ten years.  You hear that MATH, ENGLISH, & BUSINESS???  WE'RE COMING FOR YOU, MOTHAFUCKA!