“Oh, For Gross!”
It was the first thing my wife said as she stepped through the entryway. She often yells things like that when she gets home. It is just a part of our daily ritual.
“What?” I asked.
“Something smells HORRIBLE!”
I sniffed the air. “I don’t smell a thing.”
She was incredulous. “How could you not? It’s so totally gross.”
I tested the air again – nothing.
“Can you really not smell what I smell?”
I couldn’t. Admittedly she has a better nose than I. Probably something to do with being a mother. Mothers are like that. Mine always caught me in my evil misdeeds after a mere whiff of my clothes. I swear, she could smell guilt downwind from two hundred yards.
“Honestly, I don’t smell a thing,” I told her.
“And why does something like this always happens when we are expecting company?”
“Company?” I said, “it’s just Stan and he is the last person on earth to worry about a foul smell. He won’t even notice.”
“I don’t care, it’s embarrassing,” she said, “find out what it is and get rid of it.”
“Why me? I can’t even smell it.”
“Because it is gross and you are a guy. Guys like gross things and besides, if I find whatever it is, I’ll barf.”
Her logic was impeccable as always, so I started ticking through a mental list of the likeliest of culprits.
The kitchen trash
It was bad but not that bad. Still I took it out to the cart by the road.
The cat litter box
It was as foul as always but not that terribly foul. Still I cleaned it and dusted the sand with baking soda.
Every once in a while our U-traps will dry out, allowing septic odors to waft back up the pipes. It is just one of the joys of rural living. So I mixed a concoction of bleach and water and used it to charge the traps.
The science projects
We have several.
First I checked the fresh fruit bowl. The apples looked green – but did we buy them red? Best not to take a chance.
The bananas had turned dusky brown – then delightfully yellow again.
The onions on top of the refrigerator were embarking on a grand adventure, hoisting themselves up onto the cupboard by means of roots and tendrils.
And the potatoes – well, let’s not discuss the potatoes.
After all that was done, I called out to the porch where my wife had taken refuge in the fresh air. “How about now?”
She poked her head in the doorway before fleeing back onto the porch, gasping and retching.
“That bad, huh?”
“It’s worse,” she called back. “how could you not notice?”
I don’t know. She notices things that I don’t. Perhaps I am nose-blind – but then I notice things that she doesn’t. Like the odd behavior of cats and both our indoor cats were mighty interested in the vent under the cupboard.
Sure enough, there I found a beyond-ripe dead mouse which I flung into the ditch on the far side of the road about that same time Stan showed up.
“Oh, For Gross!” he exclaimed as he stumbled through our entryway.
“It’s okay,” my wife told him – then explained the dead mouse and its ultimate fate in the ditch on the far side of the road.
“Oh, I smelled rotted mouse,” he said, “but that’s not what stinks.”
“Then what does?” I felt compelled to ask.
“Your running shoes,” he said, “they are old, wet and rotted and they reek. It’s a scent that takes me back forty years to the apartment we shared in Saint Paul and a guy don’t forget rank like that.”
Oops. I should have left them out on the deck after my long walk with Scooter.