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
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
"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
"No, we're not having sexual intercourse," Adam clarified, quite
"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
"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
"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
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.