So how was your evening?
Mine was great — if you don’t count the gas company coming to my house in Hazmat suits at 11 p.m. because I was convinced we had a gas leak and my family was going to die in their sleep.
It went a little something like this….
5 p.m. Dinner with family at Mexican restaurant because my kids were trying to torture me all day, and the only thing that could keep me from losing my shit was tacos and margaritas.
7–9 p.m. Putting my child to bed for two hours (totally normal) and smelling the most rancid smell I’d ever smelled in my entire life. Think rotten eggs on crack.
I know what your thinking: All boys’ rooms smell like a dead carcass, but no, not my son’s room. His room always smells like cupcakes and candy. Okay, it’s a vanilla-scented Glade PlugIn, but that is beside the point. I was seriously convinced something had died in there or a long-lost sippy cup of milk had surfaced, but I couldn’t find a damn thing.
I called for reinforcements, aka my husband, and made him sniff all over the room, and neither of us could figure out where the smell was coming from, but it seemed to be coming from the air vent above his bed.
OMG, we have a gas leak!
9:30 p.m. We start freaking the fuck out. Okay, I start freaking the fuck out. (I could be bleeding to death and my husband would still be calm.)
I am starting to get a headache and feel lightheaded, and I’m convinced we are going to slip into a gas-induced coma if we stay in the house one more second, so we all move outside, including the sleeping baby.
I decide to call the call the gas company, but they were closed, of course, and my options were to call back “during normal business hours” or “call 911 if it’s an emergency.” We decided that our family potentially dying in their sleep was, in fact, an emergency.
Operator: Hello, 911, what’s your emergency?
Me: Um, I don’t know if it’s an emergency. Is there a hotline for a non-emergency emergency?
Operator: What’s your location?
Me: I don’t think I need someone sent… I just smell something weird, maybe, like a gas leak, but I don’t know. I‘ve never had… (abruptly interrupted)
Operator: Hold on the line.
New Operator: This is the Houston Fire Department. What’s your emergency?
Me: (Oh my god, they’re going to send the fire department, with loud sirens, and a firehose, and wake up the entire neighborhood!) It’s not an emergency, per se, but I think I smell gas. I don’t want to waste your time or have the fire department sent, I just…
Fire Department Operator: Hold.
In the midst of all the chaos, while I’m waiting to talk to the fire department, I hear my son whisper something and point to his underwear.
Me: Mommy is trying to figure out if our family is going to die — what is it? If you need to go pee, just go in the grass.
My son: It’s not that.
My son lifted up his blanket, and the most rancid, burn-your-nose-hairs-smell seeped out.
OMG, the beans. He ate all those damn beans at dinner.
We don’t have a gas leak. We have a kid with the worst flatulence in the history of humanity.
Fire Department Operator: Are you still there?
Me: Oh, yes. Everything is fine. The smell is gone. We no longer need assistance. Buh-bye.
Fire Department Operator: Are you sure?
Me: Yes, all good. False alarm. Thank you for your time and sorry to bother you.
But it wasn’t the end.
Apparently when you call 911 about a gas leak, you can’t just hang up and say, “False alarm. All good.”
It’s like yelling “bomb” on an airplane. That shit isn’t taken lightly, and there’s a protocol, which involves the gas company showing up at your door decked out in Hazmat suits.
Yes, this really happened.
We had our house searched with all sorts of tests performed because our son had the stinkiest farts in the world.
When the “gas team” entered our house, I told them I didn’t smell the smell anymore, and everything was fine, and they could go.
“Have a good night,” I said (and tried to shut the door).
“Good try,” he said.
“Ma’am, we close entire malls during back-to-school shopping week and churches on Christmas Eve because someone reports a strange odor. We will cut off the gas to the entire neighborhood if we have to. You do understand the severity of such a complaint?”
Me: Yes, sir (stepping back and allowing them to enter my home).
All I could think was my poor neighbors. I would never live this incident down.
As they entered my home, I gave my husband “the look.” You know “the look.” It’s the death stare that means “under no circumstances are you to tell these people what the real smell is. We will take that shit to the grave.”
I also told my son to hide in his room and under no circumstances to come out of his room and talk to these people.
The “gas team” was all over our house, performing tests in the attic, digging holes in the backyard, and checking the meters.
Just a typical Monday night.
In the midst of everything, I found my 5-year-old hiding under the covers (not a place I would be hiding, but he’s a better man than I).
My son: Are they going to know it was me with the stinky fart and take me to jail?
Me: (trying not to laugh) Not this time, but if it happens again they will be forced to.
After two hours — yes, two hours — the “gas team” finally left, after they determined that there wasn’t a gas leak (which we knew) at our home and said they have no idea what was causing that smell.
Thank god they do not know the truth.
All’s well that ends well, I guess, except I had to wear nose plugs to be able to sleep in the house last night, but at least we had our lives.
I’ll call that a win.
In retrospect, it probably wasn’t the best idea to let our son eat four huge bowls of charro beans at the Mexican restaurant, and then forget about said beans and alert emergency services about a potential gas leak, but sometimes parents have too many margaritas and make parenting mistakes.
We are human.
In the future, we will always smell our child’s ass before calling 911.