I encounter lots of smells. All parents do. Tonight was different. Now is the chance to stop and go elsewhere, gross things are ahead.
I have four girls, an irresponsible cat, and a dog in a diaper. Lots of smells. Cat box ammonia is a rough smell. It sucks the air out of a small area above the box. Kids have the normal awfulness of pooping, terrible breath, and sometimes they puke and have a sour potato soupy smell. Dog pee in a diaper has its own signature scent. Maybe the dog needs to hydrate and perhaps eat more fiber? Some of you probably puffed out your cheeks and gagged a little. Rightfully so.
All of these things are stinky but tonight I found a worse smell.
Smell memory is one of the strongest connected senses in the brain. You can smell warm cookies and instantly be transported to some long forgotten place and time in your childhood. I assume the same is true of bad smells and I experience that from time to time. This recent smell will probably trigger a memory of huddling in a fetal position in the corner.
What was this olfactory demon you ask? I promise to tell but you need to understand the level we are working with here.
I have several haunting memory smells. I can’t eat deer meat because I worked at a processing facility one season and something about the iron-blood smell is burned into my brain. At that same facility I cut into a deer that had an arrow embedded under the skin and had lots of green infection around it. Blah. Just blah. One night our dog got into the kitchen and ate a whole Cornish hen and pooped on EVERYTHING in the house at 3:00am. She pooped the McDonalds arches onto the hallway wall. It looked like someone vandalized my house with a dog poop Super-Soaker. I was awakened by the smell in the house. Two rolls of paper towels, two garbage bags, and a stack of dinner napkins…I smelled dog poop when breathing in for the next two days.
My friend and I went through a workout phase in college and there was an errant protein shake that somehow rolled under a dresser. About a month later we were moving furniture out and disturbed it accidentally. We searched for thirty minutes for the dead animal that had to be rotting in the room. Even this protein cloud doesn’t quite compare.
Today we discovered a sippy cup of milk. Wait. Wait. Wait.
Supermom found an old sippy cup of milk under the piano and set it up on the top while she finished sweeping every other thing we had lost over the last month out into the daylight. Being a helpful husband and dedicated father, I decided to take dishes to the kitchen and put them in the dishwasher. She didn’t tell me that the sippy cup was just excavated from the piano time-capsule.
I was standing over the kitchen sink and turned the top. Hiss. Air escaped like a seal had been broken on a mummy’s tomb. I was moving quickly from muscle memory and even as the first wave hit me I was pouring the cup’s contents into the sink disposal. Oh dear God… What have I done. The room got blurry and I turned on the hot water.
The second wave hit me. The scalding water couldn’t take the chunky cheese milk away fast enough. It was like double-soured milk with rotten eggs. I went down to my elbows and thought of my family’s safety. “Honey…. Ta.. Take the kids and go to the back of the house!”
“GO! Save yourself!”
“I love you! Noooo!”
Third wave. A thin film of putrid covered the stainless steel sink. The smell was lurking in the air. It was somehow light enough to float in the air but thick enough to block my lungs. I reach the disposal switch on the wall and have just enough energy to flick it up to the “On” position. I sprang to life and I slumped backwards to the ground. The Smell. It was like smoke from a house fire gathering at the top of the room and pressing downward. I could hear the milk chunks hitting the sides of the disposal and emulsifying the rotten air.
This can only get worse.
In the distance I hear bedroom doors closing and muffled voices. “Mommy what is that smell? Where is daddy? Is this the end of the world?” Tears streamed down my face but I was too weak to answer. Diapered dog was pacing at the edge of the hallway and living room. Whining because she knew daddy was in trouble but she wasn’t brave enough to face the smell.
The fourth wave. My brain is swimming from the chemical cloud and I am seeing sounds and hearing the number green. Two leprechauns on a rainbow ran across the counter as I turned off the garbage disposal and slung the sippy cup into the trash can and slammed the lid.
I stagger to the back of the house and fall into the bedroom with ragged breath and splotchy skin. Children are huddled in fear.
The vent from the sink empties into the attic space. The return air distributes the fumes into the air conditioning system. A painful lesson we may have learned too late. Even as I type this the light is fading. I’ve wrapped the children in blankets and fired a signal flare out the back window. If I have started the zombie apocalypse then I beg the world to forgive me.
If you ever were my friend do me this one last favor…. Don’t let milk sit in a sippy cup.
-Underdaddy to the rescue.