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Thursday, March 29, 2012

I Smell Trouble

There is a woman who sits on my floor at work who has a "smell sensitivity."  I don't know who she is; she prefers to remain anonymous when lodging complaints with my manager about, let's say, the squirt of Coco Mademoiselle I applied to my wrist during weeks 1 through 3 on the job.  Far be it from me and those notes of Sicilian oranges and grapefruit, with a hint of Calabrian bergamot, to offend her on the inhale.  I've stopped perfuming on workdays.  Hopefully now she can concentrate on her numbers-crunching without the distraction of floral scents.  (Quite frankly, I've been disappointed in the stuff anyways.  Three months now and I still don't look like Keira Knightley.)

My point here is that if this woman didn't like me wafting a smell vaguely reminiscent of a wedding boquet through the halls, today she's going to hate me.  Today, I'm nervous that I am giving off the faint odor of skunk.

Related point: I've discovered your day is not off to a good start if the worry dominating your mind is "Do I indeed smell like a skunk?".

This morning at 3:30AM my eyes sprang open and my body was fully alert.  No one was crying.  No one was trying to rob our house.  There was no cosmic event.  Instead, a putrid smell had invaded every nook and cranny of our humble home.  It was that unmistakable smell that makes your heart sink to your stomach and your reactionary instincts go to DEFCON 1: Maximum Force Readiness.  The smell of a skunk.

I am not talented enough at anything to adequately convey to you the strength with which this smell unleashed itself.  I rolled over and waited for the skunk to walk out of our closet, and rolodexed my best options at saving my family and our prized possessions in the 3 seconds I was going to give us to get out of the house and run from our attacker.  Without realizing it, while I was whispering my final good-byes, I must have done several shots of Liquid Courage.  Because when no skunk lumbered out from behind Door No. 1, I got up out of bed, grabbed our iron (hey, it's pointy) and literally paced our house looking for the skunk.  I didn't find him.  (It wasn't all a loss.  I did find my daughter's missing pink sneaker.)

I went back to bed but I couldn't sleep.  The smell was everywhere.  Now I know how Righteously Indignent Sniffer in Accounting feels.  Try to tell yourself to stop smelling something.  You can't. 

I was up and couldn't think of anything to do.  I half-considered poking one of my kids awake just for some company, but then I gave myself a long lecture about getting a grip and not breaking the First Rule of Parenting: never wake a sleeping child.

So instead I mentally diagrammed the dynamics of the skunk smell and short-listed the top 5 chores for the day, assuming I didn't die of skunk inhalation.  By the time 5AM rolled around, I unconsciously did a few more shots of Liquid Courage and decided to go to the gym. 

Normally, the hard part of that process is getting out of bed.  This morning, the hard part of that process was walking to my car.  We don't have a garage, so I have to walk outside to get to it.  In the dark.  Past our side porch with an open bottom half (a perfect launch pad for a skunk to 'Nam its way to its next victim).  It's probably a total of ten steps from house door to car door, but this morning those ten steps were my Everest.  As soon as I opened the house door, my eyes started to water and my internal monologue became something like "you stupid, silly woman.  Stay in the house.  Don't you know IT IS OUT HERE?!?"  But like Newt Gingrich at a campaign meeting, I ignored my better judgment, and I continued onward.  I skittered to the car like I was dodging sniper bullets.  I kept my eyes trained on the driver's side door and when I got there, I threw it open and hurled my body across both front seats, curling my feet in and shutting the door with my heel.  All I could picture was the horror of being foot-to-nose with a skunk, and it frieked the bejesus out of me.  But I won.  I made it to the car.  By the time I got home from the gym, the smell had only abated a little bit.

Over breakfast (grapefruit swimming in skunk), my husband and I compared notes about the assault on our house.  Lest you think I am exaggerating, the smell woke him up too, and he concluded at the time that there must be a skunk sitting on his stomach and emitting its odor directly up his nostrils.  Not the case, but you get the point.  Strong.  Smell.

As I drove my son to daycare today, I got to reflecting on the skunk and its place in our world.  I've concluded it shouldn't have one.  (I hope Alicia isn't reading today.  Or yesterday.)  What's the point of a skunk, other than to provide its fellow woodland creatures with a good laugh when they happen upon a human crossing paths with a skunk?  I think we can all agree that God or Mother Nature, whichever way you approach it, didn't even think much of the skunk.  It's like He or She got to that part of the Make The World kit and got tired.  "Don't you see all the work those alligator teeth and raptor talons were?  You need a defense mechanism?  Oh, I don't know.....let's give you a white stripe and a foul scent.  Boo-yah."  Smelling bad is something people could do, too, if they wanted to repel unwanted attention or banal conversation, but even we usually resort to something requiring more energy.  Me?  I use lame jokes and run-on sentences, but at least that only offends my direct target, who is within earshot, and not every single person who might be down wind.

But here I am now, at work.  Hours later, alone in my cubicle.  And no one has stopped by to say hi or check in.  So maybe I do smell like a skunk.  Maybe I should give the skunk and his tactics more respect.  Maybe I should out the Perfume Police and take a mosey through Accounting.  How do you like me now?!?

P.S.  I just realized I am wearing all black.  Am I actually BECOMING a skunk?  If I wake up with Colton's hair-do.....I don't even know how to end that sentence or complete that thought.

For an update on this skunk attack, see here

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