When I was in seventh grade I went to a Halloween party at a young friend’s house. I was dressed as Indiana Jones and thought my costume was basically the greatest costume ever. The party night didn’t go very Indiana Jones for me though as I recall crying and begging my mother to come and pick me up and take me home. (Something about it belonging in a museum). But actually, it was the smell that drove me out of that place.
There was a kid there who used some kind of body pant to cover himself in green so he could be the Incredible Hulk. That paint smelled so terrible I could hardly stand it. It was just awful. It made me want to puke and pass out and piss myself all at the same time, that’s how awful that smell was. It was like garbage rotting in the sun under a peed on tarp under a peat roof that was mostly held together by manure. I’m can’t stress to you enough how badly it smelled.
I could smell something similar last night and I couldn’t tell where it was coming from. It smelled like hot balls being munched on by a wet cat that had rolled around in the feces of dogs that had eaten the rotting corpse of a possum that had been baking under the porch. Let’s just say it was an unpleasant odor. It wasn’t coming from my apartment, or my hands or my shoes or anything that I could find. There was just a stink.
This morning the smell was gone and I started to wonder if I had imagined the smell. Maybe my mind had conjured up some horrific smell just to mess with me. I thought that maybe it was my brain telling me that the heartache and misery I live with on a daily basis is starting to rot and I should bury it in the yard. In the middle of the night, Under a full moon. Wearing a black cloak. Maybe say something in Latin when done.
Smell is a very powerful thing; in fact it’s the sense that is most closely related to memory. It’s really quite amazing how a scent or just a drifting wafting odor can send the mind reeling back through hallowed antiquity to some strange moment of childhood. Like the first time you ever smelled bread baking or drove through Wisconsin on a summers day. Maybe it reminds you of that blanket at grandma’s and how it smelled right after she took it out of the dryer or how grandpa smelled like tobacco and whiskey. It’s really the smell of things.
I suppose that’s one way to actually define reality. By the way it smells. I know that when I’m dreaming nothing smells like anything, but in the real world there’s an abundance of smells. The blue line smells very metallic to me, almost like blood and sweat. The Metra train smells like wet socks. My car smells like hot dust. My clothes smell like cigarettes. My breath smells like booze.
Work has a terrible smell. It smells like so much death and defeat. It reminds me of the way a gym smells after the home team loses the big game. Sweat and tears that seem to have permeated the walls and with every day gets stronger and more powerful until everyone realizes that the walls have to be torn down and rebuilt.
It’s almost so bad it’s hard to breath.