27 February 2009

Rambleweed, Pt. 1:
the Spud Incident

“My theory on housework is, if the item doesn't multiply, smell, catch fire, or block the refrigerator door, let it be. No one else cares. Why should you?”
- Erma Bombeck, American humorist writer (1927-1996)

In 1988-89 (my second year of college) I lived in a apartment complex that we all colloquially referred to as Rambleweed. (Strangely, this complex was directly next to my old high school.) It was predominantly students from Colorado State that lived in the complex, so needless to say it was a bit rowdy, noisy, rude.

I shared an apartment with two friends, one being six-foot-seven, and the other six-foot-five, like myself. It was a tall, loud apartment.

Many, many odd, mysterious and highly amusing occurrences took place over that year... 
the following is but one such instance:

At one point we all decided that our apartment was beginning to smell a bit, shall we say, ripe. Not terrible, but just... less than fresh. We decided we'd better clean the place up some. We spent the weekend vacuuming, dusting, mopping, and sweeping. We cleaned the kitchen, the living room, the bathroom, the hallways and our bedrooms. We were very satisfied to have a nice, fresh clean apartment again.

The next morning we woke up and the 'ripe' smell was still there. We made half-hearted attempts to locate the origin of this smell, to no avail.

A few weeks went by, and the smell lingered, evolving into a decided funk. Our apartment was funky, and not in the good way.

We all blamed each other, looked through the refrigerator and cupboards, hoping to find the offending substance. Again, nada.

Finally one Saturday afternoon, our roommate BS decided he'd had enough. He demanded that we all tear the apartment apart until we found what was causing such a rank, malodorous air.

For a few hours we pulled open every cupboard, every drawer, checked the drains, the trash can, everywhere. Finally as I was fiddling around in my room half-heartedly poking through stuff I heard BS say from the hallway,
"Hey did anyone check through the hall closet?" I had thought they had, and they thought I had. BS opened the door and nodded his head, "Yeah, I think it's in here..."

He reached up on a high shelf at the very back of the closet and pulled down a paper grocery bag.

"What's this?" he asked.

Immediately I knew what had been causing our misery. I tried to stop him, but before I could utter a word BS opened the paper bag and stuck his head down deep inside and took a long, deep breath.

His screams echoed off the walls and rattled the windows. He flung himself backwards and dropped the bag, hands clawing at the air and his eyes closed and watering. His face was beet red, his veins were bulging on his neck and he was sweating profusely. He banged into the wall and, with eyes still closed, began running at full speed. He slammed into the closet doors, knocking them off their hinges. Still disoriented and blind he turned slightly and ran full speed into the bathroom, directly into the sliding shower doors, knocking both off their rails and into the tub. Still bellowing, out of his mind and half-blind, he bolted out of the bathroom and down the hall. He flung the door open, flew down the steps and out into the parking lot, taking huge gulps of air and making spastic movements with his arms and legs. It looked like he'd developed a tic. Or that he was having a fit.

Laughing my ass off, I grabbed up the bag and ran after him. I held the bag out at arms-length and opened it and ran toward him. He sprinted into the middle of the street and then stopped and turned around. His eyes blazed and he yelled at full volume, 

I decided that I'd better not mess with an angry, disoriented six-foot-seven, 250-pound behemoth in the throws of a seizure. Still chuckling, I jogged down the street to the garbage bins and threw away the bag of quite rotten, slimy, and horribly moldered potatoes that I had squirreled away in the back of the closet untold weeks ago in order to keep them from going bad too quickly.

Unfortunately, I had promptly forgot all about them. Even the smell in the apartment didn't register. It wasn't until he'd pulled the sack out of the closet that everything had suddenly clicked into place...


KJT - Ft. Collins, CO (1988-89)


Laura said...

And it is amazing that potatoes can smell so rank but they CAN foul a whole house!

redwithenvy said...

your story (which was awesomely rad - i wish i would have been there to see it) reminded me of a divorcee and her wicked ways:

The Curtain Rods

She spent the first day packing her belongings into boxes, crates and suitcases. On the second day, she had the movers come and collect her things. On the third day, she sat down for the last time at their beautiful dining room table by candlelight, put on some soft background music, and feasted on a pound of shrimp, a jar of caviar and a bottle of Chardonnay.

When she had finished, she went into each and every room and deposited a few half-eaten shrimp shells dipped in caviar into the hollow of the curtain rods. She then cleaned up the kitchen and left.

When the husband returned with his new girlfriend, all was bliss for the first few days. And then slowly, the house began to smell.

They tried everything; cleaning, mopping and airing the place out. Vents were checked for dead rodents and carpets were steam cleaned. Air fresheners were hung everywhere. Exterminators were brought in to set off gas canisters, during which they had to move out for a few days; in the end they even paid to replace the expensive wool carpeting.

Nothing worked.

People stopped coming over to visit. Repairmen refused to work in the house. The maid quit. And finally, when they could not take the stench any longer they decided to move.

A month later, even though they had cut their price in half, the new couple could not find a buyer for their stinky house. Word got out, and eventually even the local realtors refused to list their house or return their calls.

Finally, they had to borrow a huge sum of money from the bank to purchase a new place. The ex-wife called the man and asked how things were going.

He told her the saga of the rotting house. She listened politely, and said that she missed her old home terribly, and would be willing to reduce her divorce settlement in exchange for getting the house back.

Knowing his ex-wife had no idea how bad the smell was, he agreed in a price that was about 1/10th of what the house had been worth, but only if she were to sign the papers that very day. She agreed, and within the hour his lawyers delivered the paperwork.

A week later the man and his girlfriend stood smiling as they watched the moving company pack everything to take to their new home - including the curtain rods.

KJT said...

That, is a great story!