Ew, that smell

The Sunday Column

There are probably quite a few things that could cause a person to do a double-take in a grocery-store parking lot, but folding laundry should not be one of them. Especially when it’s in the back of one’s van.

My van!

Because of the pandemic going on in the world, certain adjustments had to be made, and one of them was the fact that football players in high school in Hollidaysburg could not shower and change much at the school. That’s fine. Rules are rules. So what did my sons do? They made our van, which they use, and our back porch, which they don’t use, their dressing rooms.

They showered at home, thank God. Let’s hope they never make that an extra when purchasing a van.

From August up until their last game at State College this month, the van looked like it could have passed for one giant armoire on wheels. My wife and I have an armoire, and the clothes in the van, and the ones in our house, are folded two different ways. Ours is the right way.

Plus, I don’t know if you can call throwing them on the floor of the van folding. That’s why this lady one day had such a confused look on her face when she saw me decide to fold clothes in the van, just so I had room for a few bags of groceries.

Depending on what day of the week you are talking about, if you were homeless, and had a key to the van, a person could have found for themselves some really nice sweatpants, hoodies, a few gaiters, a couple of T-shirts and, depending on the day, football equipment. Thank God I never found any underwear. The thought of my sons getting in and out of their wardrobe to that extent is something the Mrs. and I would rather not visualize.

I couldn’t bring it in the house, either, because if they needed extra clothes at a moments’ notice, they had to be in their van. I needed to do something. I tried to channel the spirit of my mother, but I could hear her telling me, “You’re on your own with this one, buster. Can’t help you. Good luck.”

So every couple of days, when I got to use the van, I would just fold, and refold, and put them in nice little piles, as much as you can create a pile with shoulder pads, knee pads, football jerseys and pants, shoulder harnesses, helmets, jugs of water, cleats and clothes.

And the smell!

If you’ve never had teenage boys sweat into cleats for four months, five days a week, and then have them rained on, and then stored in an airtight van, then my friends, you have not smelled what these nostrils have smelled.

I brought a can of Lysol into the van one day, and I swear I heard the cleats laughing at me. If a metal can of Lysol could be afraid, then mine was afraid.

When they did bring stuff into the house, they had to put it on the back porch, which is really quite nice, what with the table and chairs my wife has out there to enjoy her morning coffee on the weekends in the spring and summer. And the view of the mountains from there is quite striking.

During the season, there was so much stuff on the porch, that when my wife and I had to take out the garbage, it seemed like we had to do the Oklahoma Drill just to make it to the back door.

But all is well now.

The back porch is down to just a smattering of football gear, and the van smells bad only on the days when the windows aren’t open. I’m no longer afraid to walk to the car with a can of spray, plus little old ladies no longer stare at me in the grocery store parking lot.

And one more thing … they don’t play any sports in the winter time.

Hooray for us!


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