The mothballs have been lain about the perimeter of the property and now it smells like Mrs. Muccifori, my old Italian (and I mean OLD) landlady from when I was a kid.
We lived in a two-family house, owned by the Mucciforis, until I was 10-years-old. They lived on the first floor and we were on the second. They were tailors from Italy and I spent many an afternoon doodling on dark fabrics with the bars of soap they used to mark their plan of attack on an item of clothing.
In my young mind, the Mucciforis were boiled down to the smallest of generalizations -- Mr. Muccifori slept a lot and liked quiet, which is why I couldn't be too loud outside or stomp around upstairs, and Mrs. Muccifori was always cold, which is why she wore 300 sweaters even in the summer and jacked up the heat to the 80s. Since heat rises, our apartment used to average 98-degrees in the winter. My father used to sleep with the bedroom window open in NJ in the dead of winter and I still can have a mini anxiety attack if it gets too hot indoors...
Hmm...perhaps I should get back to the mothballs... If you ever met my Aunt Rhoda, you understand that I get my meandering storytelling "ability" honestly!
The attic of the house was finished except for two offshoots that remained unfinished storage areas and reeked of mothballs -- Mrs. Muccifori added them to her things to stave off the moths. I knew those were her things, associated the smell of mothballs with her, and to this day think of her whenever I smell mothballs.
And then I almost immediately think of the most puzzling story I've ever heard in my life.
My mother was about 25-years-old when Mr. Muccifori died. Mrs. Muccifori thought it would be a terrific idea to knock a hole in the wall downstairs and install a door between her apartment and our entry way. That way, if she needed anything, she could just essentially come into our apartment foyer and call upstairs.
And she did.
One particular afternoon, she called up to my mother in an Italian-accent-laced singsong:
"Kaaaatie, I want an enema.........."
Now, my mother's name is Kathy.
And what landlady asks her tenant for an enema?!
And more importantly, WHAT TENANT ACQUIESCES??!!
Katie, my mother, that's who!!
I won't go into the details at this time because I've used Mrs. Muccifori's actual name and there's the outside chance that one of her people might stumble upon this story, but I'll write about it sometime down the road using an alias.
In the meantime, if you've ever rented an apartment, just imagine giving your landlady an enema. Under what circumstance would this possibly occur?