My Nose

nase2Oh, 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.

The drains

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.

Author: Almost Iowa

38 thoughts on “My Nose”

  1. You gave me some great tips on how to track down smells, Greg. Those dead mice can be tricky when then hide before decomposing. Ugh. The sneakers and accompanying socks are almost as bad!

  2. She DOES have you trained (entire house gets cleaned)…but it seems a fair trade if she has to live with a pair of running shoes that smell worse than a long-dead mouse!

  3. I only wish that I couldn’t smell a dead mouse! But then again, that would mean I would also not know when it was time for a new pair of tennis shoes.

  4. Talking of early days of sharing a house… in my early twenties sharing with another young woman, both of us rather too busy with life to do an enormous amount of cleaning…. but one really horrible smell got us searching. Yep, potatoes nasty, but that wasn’t it…. turned out to be a bowl of leftover prawns sitting up high on top of the fridge. As I don’t eat shellfish there was only one culprit. Other than that, she was a great housemate 🙂

    1. In our house, once you walk through the door, you step into the entryway. It is a high-falutin term because locally, it is called a mud-room. It’s where you kick the shit off your boots. 🙂 🙂

  5. You were looking might suspicious from the get go, sir! It’s like those people who zip past me with a gallon of perfume on, making me absolutely gag. They can’t even smell it!

    1. Our roles are reversed when we visit various tourist spots. She will duck into some little shop and when I try to follow, the scent of perfumed candles blows me out the door – and into the nearest bar. She is nose-blind to perfumed candles. I have no idea how that works.

  6. I thought you had hit the nail on the head when you mentioned the potatoes. Mine make Mr. Potato Head look young. I gotta tell you though. If your old enough to share an apartment with St. Paul, you’re older than my potatoes. Oops! I think I read the St. Paul wrong. Oh, well.

  7. You’re such a noble spouse. My better half has no sense of smell and no faith my complaints … so I get to hunt whatever might be the cause. Thankfully his eyesight is good. When I can point to a visible culprit he deals with it.

    1. What I do not understand is how so many mice get past our seven outside and two inside cats. It is as if someone is not doing their job. 🙂

  8. What is it about men and their favorite worn shoes? Randy won’t ditch his decrepit, albeit not stinky, ones either.

    Now on to that mouse story. Several years ago, in the middle of a summer heat wave, I turned on the air conditioner only to have the most horrid rotten smell waft through the air vents. Randy couldn’t smell it. I insisted it smelled like something dead. He insisted not. Eventually, to quiet my complaining, he investigated and, after much searching of the dark basement, found a dead mouse. Inside the furnace.

    1. One has to wonder what it is about duct-work and mice, it is as if they know that when they pass from their mortal coil that they will achieve an immortality of sorts. 🙂

    1. I wouldn’t dream of retiring those shoes. This is a tough neighborhood and my shoes are my primary line of defense. Last year, a bull jumped the fence and charged me. My shoes sent him scurrying back over the barbed wire. Plus, when I keep them on the deck at night, it fends off the coyotes.

  9. I still remember one of my first lessons about living on the Gulf coast: do not allow salt water soaked shoes to sit around. Wash those babies in fresh water — twice — or your shoe budget will need to be increased. Letting them dry in the sun’s good extra insurance. That old saw about sunlight being the best disinfectant has some truth behind it.

    1. I found the best way to dry tennis shoes is to stuff them with newspaper which absorbs the water – and as a bonus, our local rag has become so toxic over the last few years that it disinfects them as well.

  10. Perfect timing for this topic. Last Wednesday, I looked outside and thought the neighbor had a small branch down on the ground. On Friday, I went out to do some gardening, smelled this wretched smell and started walking around to see what it was. Aha – that branch was a dead skunk about a foot from the property line. I actually thought about wearing a mask it smelled so bad. Saturday – no removal. Sunday – I installed a bright red, road cone on my mulch just in case she couldn’t see it from her kitchen. I thought maybe since she couldn’t smell, she might be blind also. Monday, she hired some guy to come and remove it. However, by then the smell was ghastly and all it did was move it a little further away because he pitched it in the woods right behind both our properties. It’s Thursday, and I can still smell it when I go out there. Your wife shouldn’t come visit me this week for sure. 🙂

    1. I read your comment to Scooter.

      His response: “A dead skunk? Where? Where?” followed by a lot of vigorous tail wagging. Dead skunks are Scooter’s favorite thing to roll around in. He also loves stories about dead skunks, dead anything, actually.

  11. Haha! Looks like in your effort to become a gumshoe, you overlooked the most obvious source of the smell – your own shoes. My sense of smell has diminished over the past couple of years to the point where I am concerned I wouldn’t smell a dead rodent. This blows your theory about mothers. 😐

    1. I never worry about my theories being blown because they were formed in the absence of information and therefore are more than fit to survive the onslaught of facts.

  12. I’ve been there with the smell. I’m guessing your wife also has the ears of inspection. “What’s that high-pitched squeal?” I didn’t here it, but two weeks later I was having a wheel bearing replaced.

    1. Your comment reminds me of the price list that our mechanic has posted on his wall.

      Squeals: $500
      Clunks: $1850
      Shimmies: $625
      Shakes: (see shimmies)
      Rattles: $750
      Squeaks – This weeks special: $45 per

    1. I am caught in a bit of a quandary there, John. We are coming up on deer hunting season, which in Minnesota is like a sacred holiday. Anyways, my neighbor got together last year and warned me NOT to leave my shoes outside because it is causing the game to migrate to some unholy place – like Iowa.

        1. True, I have gotten complaints from as far away as Texas – but hey, I thought Texans were tough and not given to complaining. Perhaps its from the snowbirds who have been settling down there.

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