smell of mystery

(6 comments)
July 31, 2005

Had a mystery smell in my front room for the past week, maybe a bit less. Odd odor...if it hadn't shown up before I started catsitting Isis I would have been on the hunt for a wayward bit of cat poo. It seemed to be stronger from the window, so I also glanced outside to see if maybe a dog had left me a present, or if some "party-heartier" might have had booze that decided to come out the same way it came in. Or some wayward cheese.

Nothing. All clear outside, and all sniffs around the window area were to no avail. Fortunately the smell wasn't that strong to begin with, but still it was definately there, and rather off-putting when you caught a whiff.

Then of course you start to worry that it's one of Those Smells That Won't Go Away. (Like that old joke about the divorcing woman who hid rotting fish in the curtain rods of the house her ex-husband won in the court battle, 'til finally he sells it to her ten cents on the dollar, but in moving out brings the curtain rods with him.) Could it be a dead creature that got caught in the walls? Just some Splotch of Eternal Mystery?

Fortunately there is a happy ending to this. My nose finally realized the error of its ways...the smell wasn't from the window, but from my desk...two little plants that Ksenia had brought over during a move were kind of sitting there making their own gravy...the stagnant water in the plastic tray they were sitting in had a kind of brackish pungency to it.

And that was it! One thing for which I'm very grateful is that very few odors linger once the offending source material is removed. Very few smells have that skunk-like property of just hanging around and insisting on extreme measures. (Though I guess in the case of the skunk it's more the oil that gets stuck on stuff.) This makes up for the way it's so hard to localize a smell. Maybe they should make some machine that can detect odors part-per-million and play a little game of "hotter, colder" with you.