The Smell Part 2*

(Part 1 can be found here.)

My boss laughed but got all deflect-y again, like, “Yes, did you research the use of cat urine on leather?” As if he couldn’t do anything at all about the foul smell until he had that bit of information. But then he started asking me about how my car negotiations were going with R., which caused me to be a little deflect-y myself, because it went how it always goes, like this:

R. calls me as I leave work: “What’s for dinner?”

“I dunno. Oh wait, I have an idea, maybe you could make dinner since you’re home and hungry, and I’ve been working all day and have a long drive ahead. Burritos?”

“Um, right, gotta go.”

I arrive home to find R. sitting on the couch in the pitch dark, watching old episodes of Lost on the internet.

“Wow, it’s dark in here.”

“Yeah, don’t know if I told you, but my parents are Amish.  They frown on the use of electricity”

“R, did you make dinner?”

“Um, yeah, its in the kitchen.”

“Uh, I don’t see anything?”

“Yeah, there wasn't much I could do without electricity...”

I propose a collaborative cooking extravaganza: “You open the can of beans, while I locate the tortillas.”

Five minutes later, in our ADD-ish ways, he’s yo-yo-ing, and I’m checking e-mail.

“Mom, I really like how this cooking thing is going.”

We eventually get it together and sit down at the table to eat, and I say, “Hey, it’s time for The Talk.”

“We did that last week! I thought today is the day when we read The Ethicist out loud at dinner.”

“We’re changing things up. The talk went pretty well last week, wouldn’t you say? I said you needed to get a job, and within 3 days, you had one.”

“My ethics education is suffering. By the way, is angel dust smoked or snorted?

“I think it’s smoked. Why?”

"I have to do a drug test for my job tomorrow. Just studyin’.

We have The Talk, about how I bought him one car, and he wrecked it, and now he should pay for the next vehicle, if there is to be one.

“Mom, one childhood in this family was way too short. I’m sure you don’t wanna go down that path twice.” He’s referring to how his sister went to college at the tender age of 14.

“Um, R., we’re talking about how now you have a job, and you can pay me back for a car if we get one.”

“Childhood is so fleeting, Mom. Think about that. I know you’re on my side here. You really don’t want to put me in slavery just yet.”

I’m in the middle of telling this story to my boss, and for some reason, he’s laughing, and then says, "maybe the smell creates all this joviality, or maybe it’s your full spectrum light. Maybe we shouldn’t change a thing."

Which, well, I’m pretty sure nothing is going to change, because the other day when B. and I went to the boss of the offending pants (i.e., the person who supervises the person who wears the leather, cat pee-infused pants), and said, um, this is really awkward, but it smells really bad in our cubicles, and something needs to change. The supervisor said, “Oh, thanks so much for reporting it. See, I was aware of the bad smell, but until someone reports it, there’s nothing I can do.

I’m wondering how far that policy goes. Like, if someone were to vomit on the floor, would we just leave it there until it was officially reported? Or if there were a fire in the building, would we evacuate even if the report hadn’t gone through the proper channels?

We returned to our stinky cubicles, and I fashioned a mask for my nose and mouth out of a piece of lens cloth and rubber bands that I found in my desk.  I am trying to imagine myself as a surgeon, to pass the time.  I overheard someone come into B’s cubicle and say, “wow, did you start peeing in here or something? It smells really bad.”

“Yup,” he replies. “I just decided it was way too much hassle to walk down the hall to the bathroom. We just pee in the corner now.”

As I’m sitting there in my makeshift mask, the other supervisor walks by to scope out the smell, and stops when she sees my mask. “Oh, good for you! That’s a really good idea.” I think that means that the problem is solved as far as she’s concerned.

I am really not sure why I’m so compelled to tell this story. I put the picture with it today, which is of my messy house, and if you look, you can see that I’m in it, but not as the subject, and maybe if you look hard enough, it doesn’t look just messy, but it looks kind of rich. This photo reminds me of what I’m trying to do with this blog: take the mess that is my life, and try to stand on the outskirts of the story, and stand back far enough so that it doesn’t just look dusty and cluttered, but maybe it’s a tiny little bit festive.

As always, thanks for reading.


  1. Yes, it is festive and inviting--to read about and to imagine. Altho I am leaving the sense of smell out of the whole fantasy.

  2. Have you suggested "scented oils" to your cubicle neighbor? I was doing some research on your behalf....



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