I was in the sixth grade, just a kid, sitting down to eat a big bowl of cereal before church on a Sunday morning. I made myself a big bowl of bran cereal, too big, it’s true–I mean, no-one needs a full bowl of bran, but definitely not an 11-year-old kid; but there’s a certain sweetness and nutty flavor to bran that appeals to me sometimes. Appeal or not, though, I did not need that big bowl. But I guess it didn’t matter, as it all turned sour pretty quickly.

I’d only taken a bite or two and was realizing the task I’d set for myself, and then in walks my dad. The day before he had gone out on a fishing excursion with my brother on a chartered boat. Dad was oblivious or stubborn or something, and had spent the afternoon on the boat shirtless, so he’d allowed himself to get sunburned pretty good on his back. His cure for it on Sunday morning, just before he walked through the dining room where I faced my big-bowl challenge? Slather his back with vinegar! What?! So I was sitting there facing my bowl and the stench of vinegar overtook the room. Challenge over. I dumped that bowl in the sink and would never eat a bowl of bran cereal again. That smell forever ruined it for me. The stink of it! I was luck to not throw up whatever was in my belly. Dang that was nasty.

Now, as an adult I’ve lived with people, family, friends and girlfriends. I know a bit about personal space, and how that can be impacted by someone else’s activities, sounds and smells. I guess that in my family, probably in most families with kids, there really is no concept of personal space. You do what you must and everyone deals with each other.