In elementary school I had a friend named Donny—a small, double-jointed fellow who smelled of peanut butter. I remember him as having a fuzz-stache for as long as I knew him, but I’m probably just extrapolating back from junior high. Surely he didn’t have a fuzz-stache in second grade, when this story takes place. In the fall of that year, Donny caught a bad case of pneumonia and was hospitalized for a few days.
“Pneumonia,” one of my classmates intoned, shaking her head gravely. “Your lungs fill up. You drown from the inside out.”
“Your lungs fill up?” one of the boys asked. “With what?”
I didn’t have to ask. I knew what Donny’s lungs would fill up with. Peanut butter. I pictured him in his hospital bed gasping for breath, every wheezing exhalation filling the room with the smell of sorrow and peanut butter.Read More