There’s A Fungus Among Us

My brother, Chuck, has this thing about mushrooms. Not a good thing either. He hates them. I always knew he hated them but, until he was in his late 30s, I didn’t know he had never even tried one in his entire life. As you should already know, my brother Chuck is “special.” As in: He went to “special” schools, he rode a “special” bus, etc. I’d rather just think of him as exceptional. And among his many exceptional traits is his exceptional will-power.


Chuck was visiting us in San Diego, California in the late 1990s. He and I were out enjoying ourselves at Seaport Village and we stopped for lunch. I ordered a bacon and mushroom burger. As I was about to take my first bite, he looked at me in panic and asked, “That’s not poison, is it?” And then I understood. Clearly, when he was a child he heard someone say “poison mushrooms.” And, if poison mushrooms did in fact exist, how could he possibly know which mushrooms were and which mushrooms were not poisonous?


The solution? Never eat a mushroom. I explained to him that the mushrooms you get in the supermarket or in a restaurant could never be poison. He relaxed and I was able to enjoy my bacon mushroom burger (although he did seem to monitor me closely for a while). Still, he has never tasted a mushroom. Just in case.


When I think about it, however, maybe there is something to Chuck’s dislike of mushrooms. They’re a fungus after all. And we’ve got a collection of fungi growing on our walls right now — no thanks to “F” — that don’t look very appetizing. I regularly wash the small bit of mold off a corner of a wall in one bedroom, but I keep my distance from the varieties growing in the halls and bathroom. We’ll be out of this place and into our new home on the beach in less than three weeks. We’re hopeful the fungus among us won’t cause us any serious health problems.


Last Tuesday, I delivered a 3-page letter of termination and a 13-page log of events (since the pipes first burst 23 December) to our useless building manager “F.” We have, of course, not had a response from “F.” The wood-laminate floor in our hallway resembles the ramps of a California skate park. The cats find it fascinating.

When I see the fungal growth around the house, I’m not that keen on eating mushrooms anymore. Maybe Chuck was right. Then again, when he was 13, The Dowager Duchess told him that chocolate was bad for his skin. He hasn’t eaten chocolate since. OK, he’s always had very nice skin, but I don’t think it’s worth the sacrifice.

Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

22 thoughts on “There’s A Fungus Among Us”

  1. I LOVE mushrooms – but I wouldn't touch those in the last photo with someone else's bargepole!

    Can't believe the amount of crud that's grown in your appartment! Seriously, seriously – watch out for health problems. Stuff like that causes problems that will only surface weeks, months, years later…

    Run for the coast! Run, I tell you, run!

    1. Owl Wood:
      After posting the above photos, I couldn't stand the idea of living in this for three more weeks. So, I covered my nose and mouth and scrubbed the surfaces with a cleaner with bleach. All the doors and windows are open again today. I'm still not thinking about what's below the surface! 19 days to go…

  2. I've been an advocate for the ban on mushrooms for years. That stuff is disgusting and no person in their right mind would eat them.

  3. Mitch, good to see you again. I was thinking as I was reading this post what a good teacher you would have been…..especially having had Chuck as a brother. Yes he is exceptional and that's how I saw all my students with special needs….hey, who doesn't have special needs?!

    I will NEVER give up my portobello mushrooms!!! I don't care how much Chuck and Stew (above) complain about it!! lol

    Be careful not to inhale the spores of that disgusting mess on your doors and walls! It can be, as I am sure you are aware, bad for your health. Take care.

    1. Jim:
      Thanks for the very kind words. I worked through high school and much of college at a summer camp and a play-therapy program during the year for the NY Association for Brain Injured Children. I started off right after university as an art therapist. But that's all ancient history … and many more stories about self-discovery!

      Jerry and I both love mushrooms and have had some of the most amazingly delicious ones in Spain. But there sure are a lot of people who hate them. Jerry's mother wouldn't go near them either.

      I got a bit paranoid yesterday about all those "spores" and ended up covering my face and soaking and scrubbing them. I hope I've dealt with the worst without any adverse effects.

  4. When getting ready to move, you might want to leave your stuff out in the full sun to kill mold spores to keep them from traveling with you. Mushrooms aren't quite as nasty as mold, but pretty close. Mushrooms are rubbery and totally unnecessary as a food item. A friend once made a batch of mushroom soup and insisted it was exceptionally good so I must try it. Well, it tasted like licking a basement floor!

    1. Ms. Sparrow:
      Thanks for the advice about the move. We'll definitely keep that in mind. Fortunately, the mold is not near any of our things, but we brushed against it a few times, which is why I finally caved and cleaned it off yesterday. Mushrooms are actually a really good source of B vitamins. But, a lot of people feel the way you do. And, although I love mushrooms, I have had mushroom soup that tasted like I would imagine a basement floor would taste!

  5. My grandmother had a sister who died from mushroom poisoning (she picked them herself in the woods) and I grew up hearing that story. But we all ate mushrooms and enjoyed them and I still do. However, because of this story we've always been very suspicious of anything with mayonnaise in it because it might not have been properly chilled. We're not very logical in my family, but we have convictions too!

  6. Dear Mitch,
    I would kill that fungi in your apartment with bleach. I would also follow Ms Sparrow's advice because the spores can get on to other things and travel with you.
    Now as for mushrooms, I'm with Jim: I love them. I particularly like them fried with bacon or in a beef stew. They make a wonderful addition.
    Brussel sprouts on the other hand . . .

    1. Kirk:
      Ms. Sparrow's advice was immediately taken. Thanks to you both!

      Ooh, I love Brussels sprouts.The first ones I ever tasted were from farm-fresh in South Yorkshire when I was 19. But they CAN sometimes be bitter to the point of acrid.

  7. I agree with Jenners. I feel so bad for you that your apartment is full of that stuff. I'm so glad that you're leaving soon — didn't you say that other apartments were affected, too? I wonder if they're growing crud like that, too.
    Hope the kitties' little lungs will be safe, too.

    1. Judeet:
      The only other apartment affected is the office below us, which just happens to be the office of the incompetent "F." He only had some minor visible damage. But, I'm sure the mold is spreading horrifically behind his walls and ceilings, and it will probably all start crumbling in a little while. I DO worry about the cats, but they seem to be fine so far.

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