Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Mysterious Stink (or Life's Not Always Perfect)

In college, my best friend and I shared an apartment from the time we were sophomores to seniors.  Oh, how happy we were to be out of the dorm and in our own place!  Neither of us were what you would call fastidiously neat.  In fact, if you were to ask our mothers (who were also college roommates), I'm pretty sure they both would say we were slobs.  From time to time, we would get an unpleasant smell in the two bedroom unit we occupied.  The source was usually a mildewed towel or rotten potato in a dark cabinet.  The term we coined for this was "The Mysterious Stink" because we would both smell it, but it was hard to identify what it was and locate where it was coming from for a day or two (or if I'm being more honest, maybe even a week or two).  You see, we couldn't kill it because we couldn't find it. 

Some of my fondest memories of college are of those days we lived together.  If one of us had been a neat freak, it probably would have killed the friendship.  Fortunately, we were not and are still the best of friends.

I've mentioned on the blog before that my mom had a career that she didn't give up when she had children.  You can read all about that in this post if you are so inclined.  She was not a domestic goddess, so I did not learn a lot about "keeping" a house growing up.  This is not to say she did not keep a clean house, but she was prone to clutter just as I am.  We both like "stuff".  My mom had to get the cleaning done in bits and pieces when she could.  We helped, but there was no schedule we all lived by for cleaning the house. To this day, I hate cleaning the house.  I do, however, love the entire five minutes that the house is clean after I am done cleaning it, so I do persist (most of the time) in cleaning it once a week.   I also have some daily rules: No dirty dishes left in the sink, laundry is put away immediately, and beds are always made before you get back into them.  Once a week, the clutter gets "organized" or put away.

I will mention that my husband is also very helpful with cleaning but is cut very much from the same cloth I am. A mess bothers him less than it does me most of the time.  This is one of the reasons why we are such good roommates and still the best of friends.

So you can imagine my consternation when "The Mysterious Stink" came to call a few weeks ago.  I immediately suspected the cats, Yoshi and Patches.  (Yes, we let the kids each name one.) We have two cats that my children received for Christmas several years ago.  Although I do love these cats, they can, at times, be assholes.  At these times, I do call them out for this.  I think they resent me for it.  I also think they know that I am secretly more of a dog person.

 I did make it a point to post on my friend and former college roommate's Facebook wall that "The Mysterious Stink" had made an encore appearance into my life.  I found it both annoying and amusing.  I'm pretty sure that it brought a smile to her face even though she lives hundreds of miles away from me so I can't be positive.


This is one of our cats.  As I attempted to find a picture of the other one, I remembered that he runs off every time I try to take a picture of him.  Jerk.  He is from the same color palette but short haired and more white than ginger colored.  Our cats are brothers from the same litter.  We got them at a shelter when they were older kittens (which meant a discounted adoption fee).  The original plan was to just get one, but my husband didn't want to split up brothers. I remind him of this every time they do something particularly irksome.

Anyway, I employed the same method that we used in college to ferret out the stench which was identify and locate.  It smelled like cat poo and seemed to be coming from our lower level room where my husband was building under the stairs storage.  He checked and assured me there was nothing around where he was building.  He is always a bit incredulous whenever I try to blame anything on the cats.  They, like most humans, find him far more likeable than me and are partial to him because of this.

This went on for about two weeks on and off.  We would notice it, then it would go away.  Then my daughter was sick during the week.   My husband stayed home with her the second day and did some more work on the under the stairs storage area.  That was when he discovered the cats' indoor toilet waaaaay under the stairs in question.  It seems they didn't like that we had moved the litter box out to the garage which has been colder than average this winter.  They had taken to pooping under the stairs.

Needless to say, he finished up the storage space that day.  It is not accessible to the cats anymore. 

I tell this story not to gross you out (proabably too late for that), but to let you know that life's not always perfect.  You probably already knew that, right?  But sometimes it can seem that way when we just see glimpses of each other's lives through Facebook or blogs or even just every day surface interactions.  One of the first bloggers I started following posted a picture about a year ago of the dirty dishes in her sink and clutter on her kitchen counter.  This was before I had started a blog, but it was one of the first times I ever felt compelled to comment on one.  I wrote, "Thanks.  I needed to see this."  Unrealistic comparison can be a monster that we feed well and regularly. Realistic comparison is the hero that can vanquish it.  It was good to see someone else had a mess in their house that night.  I really appreciated her candor in that post.

I try to write about things that make me happy.  I am also one of those people who post pictures of my smiling kids, delicious food, and adorable pets.  I sometimes post why I love and appreciate my husband.  No one wants to listen to someone bitch and moan. It's even more tiresome to read someone's writing that does the same.  I could have just kept this story to myself and let you enjoy the adorable picture of Yoshi snuggled up to a pillow.  But life is messy.  I think that bears mentioning now and again.  Sometimes the floors don't get mopped.  Sometimes the waistband on my pants is too snug and there is dog hair all over them.  Sometimes my wallet is bulging with receipts that I haven't entered in the checkbook register.  There are mornings when I lose patience with my kids and then regret it once I am at work.  Sometimes "The Mysterious Stink" invades my home.  I can only be glad that I still share my life with someone who finds it both annoying and amusing as well and understands what I mean when I use that term.



  1. Ahhhh yes. I remember it well. The funny part part was when it was time to move out and instead of cleaning the apartment, we tooked out the checkbook and pen and said,, "Look. We are not cleaning this place so...what's the damage?."Those were truly some of the best times of my life. I was so blessed to have grown up w a friend like you.

    I still smell something in my son's room and say, "I think it do."

  2. Oh, cats. Yuck. You're so right that life isn't perfect. It's messy and sometimes stinky, but I definitely think it's important to show who we really are, not our "Facebook" self.

  3. Oh no!! We have a cat too and since he was a street cat before we rescued him I am always paranoid that will happen! At least it motivated your husband to finish up the storage project!

  4. You can borrow a picture of my Tabasco. He is the same color and short hair :) You can call him Patches -- no one will ever know ;) Tabasco is never seen by any other human's eyes, so I have to have pictures for proof of his existence. What is it with these short-hair ginger/white cats???