05 October 2009

Things I've smelled worse than this

I must admit, when I read this recent news item about an unfortunately abandoned meat processing factory in South Dakota...

44 tons of rotting meat stink up S.D. town

[The] 44 tons of bison meat managed to hold its own for months, masked by the brutal chill of two South Dakota winters. Once the power was cut and spring thaw arrived, nature took over. And enough rotting meat to fill a high school gym did exactly what you'd expect: It stank.
The mayor said he spent two tours of duty in Vietnam and could not recall smelling anything as bad.

...I was more than a little thrown by the little hints of horror my imagination was able to muster. But after just a few moments of reflection, I decided that while I don't envy the poor saps who had to clean up this place, it wouldn't be a totally new experience for me, for several reasons.

Here are just a few of the things I've been lucky enough to smell that were more nauseating than this place would be:

1. A swollen ball of a disposable diaper that was somehow accidentally disposed under the radiator for a couple days. This one had a few sequels, which says a lot about our tenacious laziness and sloppiness.

2. The parking garage staircase at the CTA Howard Station on a hot summer day. If they leave the door closed for more than 10 minutes, I'm pretty sure the handle starts melting, threatening to trap everyone inside. That's the only reason I can think that they usually have it propped open. Because they obviously don't much care about the smell.

3. The first burst of gas upon opening any one of the 15,000 sippy cups the kids have left somewhere to miraculously change chocolate milk to chocolate cheese in a mere matter of days.* Eat that, Jesus!

4. The emergency exit hallway at a movie theater where I worked years ago, due to years of overflowing garbage cans being left there all day during busy weekends. The rancid residue of years of the unique mixture that is Movie Theater Garbage is much more potent than you would imagine, possibly because it's not an obviously objectionable smell that you would brace yourself for before encountering.

So you get it with both barrels, assaulted on every flavor-wavelength at once and confused beyond measure at what could be doing this to your brain. Burnt popcorn soaked in fermented Coke syrup chased by a touch of vomit and many rotten stubs of hot dogs that weren't exactly fresh to start with... I never could wrap my head around what the star player would be in this sum so much greater than its parts.

I know I could go on, but it seems my brain has been doing its best to protect me from my own memories. While brainstorming throughly to come up with contenders for this list, I was repeatedly able to taste little morsels of olfactory pain without recalling its source or the time and place of my trauma. I saw numerous flashes of myself writhing in agony, wincing away from diapers and dumpsters, burying my face in my shirt and arming myself with thick gloves.

So, what I mean to say is, with a bit of therapy, I can definitely pump this list up to at least 11. Then maybe after that catharsis, I'll sleep through the night without The Nightmares. Oh, The Nightmares.

* Or, in a tiny handful of bizarre cases, a matter of weeks.


unmitigated me said...

A)Maybe breakfast wasn't the best time to read this.

B)There's no rescuing plastic that's had sour milk in in.

C)My invisible C point.

4)No WAY could you stop at 11. You'd have to go on to 15, regardless of the neat Spinal Tap reference.

Mrs. B. Roth said...

I am so glad to hear of others' diaper and sippy cup negligence.

The worst is when baby girl finds one she stashed several days later, takes a sip, then brings it to me, spitting tiny curdles and pleading, "mo-mo, mommee."

Also, and this is awful, last Christmas time, we brought out the boxes of ornaments, somehow a dirty diaper (just wet, not poopy) had gotten thrown in one of the boxes ... yeah, YEAR OLD wet diaper, after a hot summer in the garage ... Merry Frikken Christmas.

Keith Wilcxo said...

Indeed! It's the missing sippy cups that always did it to me. You know they're gone because there is a space in the cupboard that never gets filled. You look all over and can't find it. When you do, it's a total accident and you're in a rush. You put it in the sink without unscrewing the lid (you're no dummy) and wait for the spouse to take care of it! HAHAHAHHA

Aunt Juicebox said...

How about a dead cat in a hot car trunk? That was pretty stankarific.

MakingChanges said...

I could SO add to this list. My first job was at a movie theater... I've smelled that!

I have 4 kids... been there with the diapers... we collect them by the front door sometimes- total laziness and grossness on our part!

BUT- the worst smell that stained my nose and caused permanent damage was when I lived in Rupert, Idaho. There is a sugarbeet factory where they convert the beets to sugar. You would think it smells sweet, but nay. It smells like rotten sewage mixed with year old food, and a hint of BO. I still have nightmares and this was over a decade ago.

Mary said...

stinky indeed but I think the diaper wins.

Momo Fali said...

I read about that meat plant too and the entire article made me want to gag!

The sippy cups full of milk, though? The horror!

Irrational Dad said...

GROSS!!! That diaper/radiator thought makes me gag.

We have a chest freezer in the garage that has about 60# of bulk-purchased meat. In July, wife had to pull a package of beef out to get to the pork under it. She didn't notice the package of beef fall behind the freezer. 2 weeks of 9 degree weather later finally made me realize that whatever buffalo died was in our garage, and not in the field behind our house.

I can only IMAGINE what 87,999 more pounds of decaying meat must smell like.

Midwest Mom said...

Midwest reality-check, Dan...

Hog farm.


Not that rancid sippy cups aren't gross and all [holds back retching], but a thousand pigs can kick up quite a stink.

(BTW, my daughter's wonder woman story went up today... I dedicate it to you, my funny friend.)

- Julia