Chapter 17:     Departures

ELAINE writes--

Doug stayed with us for a few days after he'd emptied his house 
and sent his furniture off in a container, until we drove him to 
SeaTac Airport and sent him off to Indonesia via Singapore. Adam 
couldn't fit in the van with everyone else, so he stayed behind.  

Adam and Doug didn't really seem to be on the best of terms that
day anyway, perhaps they'd had an argument when Adam helped with 
the piano, but they weren't talking about it.  

Melly kissed her father goodbye and they promised to call, e-
mail, write and they'd see each other over there in September.

Actually, except for Adam, the rest of us were on better terms 
with Doug than we had been for a long time when we sent him off, 
especially Melly.  He seemed like the old Doug again, free of his 
destructive grief, relieved of some heavy burden and glad to be 
off on an adventure.  The negativity of the last few months was 
forgiven if not forgotten.  We were almost sorry to see him go 
just when he got to be fun again, but we didn't want him to stay. 
He needed this trip and so did we.

We couldn't dislike Doug, we knew him too well; he was a wonderful
man, but Sally's death had really damaged him and us too.  We all
assumed that he'd eventually get better and become again the good 
old Doug we had all loved.  But we were glad to send him away to 
go get better somewhere else.

I suppose that I'd been somewhat bitter towards Doug when he lost 
it and started drinking, more than Adam or Melly or Art had.  I'd 
really loved that man-- and I do mean really --back when Doug & 
Sally & Art & Elaine and their two kids were one big happy family.
I'd loved Doug so much that it had almost scared Art, but then 
he'd loved Sally too and it was all in balance somehow.  Until 
Sally died and then it all went to hell and so did Doug.  I did
try to be a comfort for Doug after that, but once he started 
affronting Adam simply because Melly loved him too much, I became 
a mother lion ready to kill.  Doug knew it too, he was careful 
around me after that.

If it was hard on Melly losing her mother and temporarily her
father, she took it pretty well.  She was a little weepy when she 
thought about Sally, but then so was I.  And after the relief of 
getting her father out of the house, she began to miss him.  She 
too remembered the real Doug, her good old Dad.  Anyway, she was 
hardly a wreck, her spirit was tough.  She could still laugh and 
make me laugh too.  

Sally had been the best friend I'd ever had.  That's usually a 
young girl's perception--one chooses a My Best Friend to share 
secrets and have adventures with.  I've had several MBF's while 
growing up, but none like Sally.  I was grown when I met her and 
I suppose I'm a real live grown-up now, writing this, but it seems
like I was a teen-ager all over again when I knew her. I tell you,
Sally was as much a part of my life as my husband was.  What I'm 
getting at is that as Melly grew up, she was so much like Sally 
that she took the MBF position more and more every day.  It was my
joy to have her living with us; although it was not like being teen-
agers together so much as growing up together.

Of course, this had to compromise my position as a mother-figure 
for wielding any authority over her, but that was not usually 
necessary anyway.  She was smart and mature for her age, made most
of her own decisions anyway.  

Melly was just as glad to be with us, we'd been more or less 
family for most of her life.  She accepted me as a friend/mother
and Art as a favorite uncle.  Adam was, at that time, balanced 
between being her Big Twin Brother and her Boyfriend.  She was 
an easy person to have around, even less trouble than Adam, who 
was no trouble at all.

Melly and Adam were certainly good for each other's schoolwork.
She was the more serious student of the two, which rubbed off on
Adam. She read to him and he fed it back to her from memory, a 
study technique which Art would have loved to be able to pass on 
to his own high school students, but couldn't because so few kids
were capable of it.

Sometimes we saw flashes of a collective genius between them.  If 
they were enthusiastic about a subject--like anthropology--they 
were amazingly creative.  Otherwise, they didn't really dedicate 
more time to school than was required.  That was okay with us, 
flashes of genius are amazing enough and they were just kids. 

Melly had stayed with us to finish her 7th grade school year, 
which she did, but Doug wasn't ready to send for her at the end of
the school year.  He was living in a hotel room in downtown Jakarta
until a house was ready for him, so she had the entire summer with
us as well.  It even happened to be a good summer, not always a 
guaranteed product in the Pacific Northwest, so the kids often 
went up to Naked Lake, which was their favorite hangout. 

Melly and Adam still played in the forest, she would ride on his 
back as he ran through the woods with so much speed and power that 
she would scream in joy and fear.  Sounds very innocent and 
childlike, although up at Naked Lake she always rode him naked, 
which Doug had complained about.  Actually, that seemed pretty 
erotic to me too.  Maybe I envied her a little--I'd love to
have gone streaking through the woods naked on Adam's back.  But 
he was shy about doing that with his old Mom, so it must have 
seemed erotic to him too.

It took a while for us to realize where all this erotic energy was coming from. We'd never really thought about it as being external until we started correlating things. I had started to notice a faint smell around the house, from about the time that Adam and Melly were becoming teen-agers and getting horny for each other: it was a subtle but distinct odor, pleasant, a musky smell. I liked it when I noticed it, in fact it aroused me sexually, I discovered. Art couldn't smell it at all. We finally figured out that it was from Adam. It was the smell of his own horniness: sasquatch pheromones. Adam had always been self conscious about his body odors because most sasquatch sightings describe a bad smell--and no wonder, when they smear themselves with their own urine and feces, as Adam's mother had done. We never could figure out why they would do that, to us that seems like a stupid thing to do, but now I think I know: their natural smell is too provocative. Adam shampooed his whole body every day, he was always clean and smelled like "lemon fresh" or whatever the flavor the soap company was peddling that day, as neutral as possible. But when he'd sweat his genuine odor came through and it was something like a "musk", which is considered an aphrodisiac and believe me, it WORKS! I don't mean to be vulgar, but that smell went straight to my quim, and most certainly Melly's as well. It didn't seem to affect Art directly, it was evidently tuned to attract females for mating. That Adam reacted strongly to Melly's smell as well, we already knew. He loved to lay his head in her lap and sometimes he'd get all groggy, like he was getting high on some drug. Her pheromones were getting to him. But it seemed to work both ways, even though Melly had nowhere near the sharp sense of smell Adam had. I think when he was aroused by her scent he smelled even stronger of musk, so she got aroused and both of them more and more in an upward spiral. Whew! Art and I eventually figured this out because when the kids began tuning in on each other, Art and I found ourselves having sex a lot more than usual. This was after we'd been together for 15 years or so and were used to the comfortable and lazy routine sex that long established couples fall into, maybe a couple of times a week, if Art got lucky. But as those two kids got hornier and hornier, suddenly WE were doing it 2-3 times every day! At first we assumed it must be power of suggestion, being around two horny kids, then we realized that Adam's musk was getting to me. And I was getting to Art. Not that it was so bad; we learned to live with it. But those poor kids, what they must have been going through! They weren't getting any relief from it, or so they said. There weren't many secrets between the four of us living there: the smell was in the air, so to speak. So Art and I talked about it with them. "Look," Art started, "do you kids know what pheromones are?" Adam and Melly gave each other a knowing look, then Adam answered, "Sure: hormonal secretions which incite a sexual response, usually by smell. You noticed, eh?" "Well I certainly noticed," I said, with a cute roll of my eyes. Melly just laughed. "Look, it seems that Adam's pheromones are stronger than normal. You kids must be living in a cloud of aphrodisiac. That's got to be...uh..." "Clouding our judgment?" Melly said and then giggled. "...this is serious," Art insisted, "Are you two really still not having sex...or what?" "Depends on what you call sex," Melly quibbled, teasing us a little. "No, we're not having sexual intercourse," Adam clarified, quite seriously. "Good, because you may not be making responsible decisions about sex right now, considering that... "Stop," Melly commanded, hand raised to emphasize that she had something to say, "what you're saying is that I'm drugged on Addy's sex smell and am incapable of making moral decisions because I'm thinking with my...quim." Sally and I had stolen that word from an Erica Jong book we had shared and now it was part of Melly's vocabulary. "Eloquently put, Melly," I said. "But really, from the little that is known about pheromones, it seems that EVERYONE who has ever been in love is has also been affected by them to some degree. Even you Two, Art and Elaine-- you just woke up together in a sleeping bag, right? How can you ever know if it wasn't just your smell that attracted you to each other? Isn't it a normal part of every sexual relationship? Should Addy and I deny ourselves simply BECAUSE our pheromones match?" "We just want you to be aware..." "You're inferring that what we feel isn't real, that it's only hormonally induced. I mean, it's nature's way, let it happen." "Ahhh...but not happen just yet, please," I insisted. "Oh, relax, we're just having good clean fun and love might never be better than this! So WE will regulate our own sex life, thank you," she formally announced, as if they really had one. Adam just looked even more embarrassed. Melly also had a brainstorm: "Boy, have I got a get-rich-scheme: bottle Addy's sweat!"
However, the kids had said that we could trust them as far as sex went and they seemed to be as good as their word. But suddenly their behavior seemed much less erotic than before. And the musk in the air diminished, as did our own sexual extravaganzas--whew! So much less that we wondered what was going on between them. We observed that Melly was often getting irritable with Adam and that he seemed to be apologetic about something, because he took any abuse she dished out without complaint. Not that this was a constant occurrence, nor that they even got angry with another, but it did seem that some of the bloom had gone from their romance. "What do you think is going on?" Art asked me, "You've usually got a pretty good intuition about stuff like that." "Sexual frustration," I guessed without hesitation. "You think they're trying too hard to be good?" Art wondered. "I'd bet that Adam is and Melly doesn't like it. That's why he's walking on eggshells." "That makes sense, she's always been the horniest of the two," Art reasoned, then commiserated, "poor kids." "Yes, well, they ARE too young," I insisted sternly, but actually I couldn't help sympathizing either. Poor kids. And yet, lucky kids.
Melly was with us through the summer and just before the 8th grade school year. Then Doug sent her an airplane ticket to Indonesia. He had a house, there was an international school starting the new academic year and he couldn't wait any more. He missed her too much. It had been almost seven months since they had seen each other. It was a dark rainy September day when we drove Melly to SeaTac Airport and checked her in. She and Adam held hands in the airport until it was time to go aboard the plane, but they weren't really saying anything to each other. Something seemed wrong between them, as if they'd had a quarrel. We all kissed her goodbye except for Adam, he just couldn't. She seemed remote, ready to go--she had missed her father after all. And then she was gone. On the drive back to Monroe I said, "Oh God, I'm going to miss her as much as Sally." Adam in the back seat never said a word.
Chapter 18

Adam out of Eden