Just call me madame president. Of the above-mentioned, newly formed society that is. Which is odd considering that the gas mask itself came to be in our house as a result of the unofficial contest that my handsome man and his brother are determined to hold on an ongoing basis, which is along the lines of see who can give the other the most ridiculous and pointless gift on record.
Let's just say that my SIL and I apologise in advance to each other on the eve of the boys' birthdays and Christmas, as we both know what's coming and that each time it will likely be more ridiculous than any past efforts.
Christmas this year (albeit late since the gift itself was shipped from Russia) was a MIG fighter helmet. I kid you not.
Last year's birthday was a Casio calculator watch, which, whilst it might possibly send your average ten year old mathlete into raptures, looks rather nonsensical on the wrist of a 30-something man with fingers too large to operate the buttons.
I couldn't even tell you what has been given in return - I think it's a case of having blocked out the memories once the gifts themselves had left my immediate vicinity.
On this particular occasion, however, I must backtrack in my prior disdain for the aforementioned gas mask. And I do mean double filtered, rubber-strapped, reminiscent-of-creature-out-of-Star-Wars gas mask.
Cutting a fairly long story relatively short, a couple of days ago I noticed a not so pleasant aroma emanating from somewhere near the back of our fridge. Being that Tim claimed to have seen a mouse just a day or two prior and being familiar with the smell from an incident in my childhood where a mouse chose to take its dying breath stuck in the bowels of our family toaster at the time, I figured I knew exactly what we were dealing with.
When we failed to find any trace of anything resembling an expired rodent with a quick torch scan under the fridge, the decision was taken to move it out of its spot against the wall and see if we could uproot the source of the stench.
Half an hour, some torn lino and much exertion later, we were no closer to figuring out where it was coming from, so we cleaned the floor under the fridge (a delightful job, let me tell you) and turned our attention - and the extended vacuum cleaner nozzle - to behind the pantry, which lives right alongside.
It was evident upon hearing the hollow "thhhhummmp" followed by having warm Eu de Decomposed Mouse blown warmly at my legs from the rear end of the vacuum cleaner that we had found what we were looking for.
Needless to say, that vacuum bag had seen its last duty and was quickly marched out to the kerb-side bin.
Having just acquired a staple gun earlier in the afternoon, Tim was happy to busy himself with replacing the errant panel on the back of the pantry, which left me with the enchanting task of cleaning the scene of Mickey's demise.
Enter the gas mask.
Despite being somewhere in the vicinity of 35 (C) degrees and not being the most comfortable piece of apparatus to attach to one's face, I was so very thankful at that moment to have this thing at my disposal.
Tim was operating nearby, without even so much as a flimsy dust mask on, and at one stage when he disappeared, I thought it was to go and gasp in some fresh air, but my sympathy disappeared quickly when I turned around to see the camera lens within inches of my face...
So to my Brother-in-law, my apologies. I did indeed find a reason to appreciate your somewhat left-of-centre idea of gift-giving.
Just this once....