Skunk. Isn’t that the cute, little, furry little animal that could easily disguise itself as a beguiling cat with some black paint? Oh sure, they smell, but pretty harmless right? I am at the forefront of inducting “skunk” into our all too limited lexicon of swear words. “Skunk” should be, if not better than, then certainly on par with shit, crap or damn". "Fuck" might be a stretch but I think it could get there. And you know how? Just give anyone a real, honest-to-goodness run in with a skunk and they will whole-heartedly agree. Have I had a real, honest-to-goodness run-in? Why of courrrse yes. Yes I have. And I’m barely breathing, still stifling the urge to empty the contents of my stomach upwards to prove it. And on day 2, I’m just realizing I probably shouldn’t be in a public place.
I’ve had a nice relaxing day at home, full of nice hippy activities: I washed my mason jars with Dr. Bronners’ soap, moved my dried fruits and grains into said jars and marveled at their jarred beauty. Rode my bike to and from the Old Town L.A. farmers market to pick up some crafty items and some frutas and veggies. Then just chillin’ at home in front of the computer (thinking about how I should be writing instead of idly browsing). Click, click, type type, scroll, scroll…woah. Sits up. What the…waait. Exclaims: woooah! That is skunky! No response from roommate. Opens the door. Oh wow…it smells like crazy frying garlic and onions so powerful it will melt my eyes instead of tearing them. I think I just insulted her cooking! Back to room. Type, type…woahhh…wait a minute…it’s like burning rubber! No…it’s like chemicals burning my nostrils, my lungs! Runs out of room into kitchen. Roommate standing perplexed: “What is that?! I just opened the fridge and”—no dude…that is skunk. “It smelled like rotten garlic or something but now it’s just weird and awful.” Ya, that’s skunk. I’ve heard up close it has a rubber/everything you hoped never to smell, smell. Your dogs (who just ran past us and into the rooms) just got skunked. Hoooly shit. What now.
Well, I can spare you the details of internet searches (tomato juice or hydrogen peroxide?! Vinegar or baking soda?!), phone calls and my poor roommate corralling the dogs, who have now vomited various times because of the smell. Remember, humans have about 5 million olfactory sensors and dogs win-out in a landslide of 200 million. I don’t even want to think of what that skunk spray must smell like to them. Deadly poison I’d guess, as it is the little skunk’s only line of defense. It really isn’t fair that the poor animal can’t differentiate between its cute appearance and foul, putridly pungent, anal secretion. That’s right, anal secretion. MMmmm…don’t you just want to breathe that in all night long! If snakes have venom, can’t skunks have some equally nefarious sounding term for their spray? How about skanum. I don’t know. Something…cause “skunk” just sounds too innocent. Like an awkward predicament or a funky smell you might get a whiff of at your favorite concert. “Skunk”. Ya it’s kinda stinky, but unless you’ve been up close and personal, you have no idea of the malicious power. If I myself had been sprayed I think I would have sought out urgent care. Ewwwahaaaahhag. Just the thought makes me recoil with vomit-like neck gestures.
Though I (sort of ) wanted to help my roomie, my innate need to flee the house and any grounds in the vicinity of our house had taken over. That and the fact that the smell kept morphing for the worse. What seemed like an hour, but was more like 15 minutes later, I was scrambling around my room, throwing things in a bag and determined to get out. It takes a lot to make me ill, but I honestly felt ILL. Like, lump in the throat, stomach swirling, I will either pass out or puke if I stay in this gas bomb any longer. Ok, ok…ummm, I’ll go to a movie! Is anything playing at 10:30pm on a Tuesday? Found one! Great, I’m going. Go! At this point I had also desperately contacted friends to see if I could stay at their house for the night, had heard no response (again…probably only been about 5 minutes, felt like hours) and ran out the door. Thankfully I was caught en route to the theatre and made a u-turn to seek refuge in a skunk-free (no skanum!) home for the night. I was thankful for many reasons, but one of which I didn’t realize at the time.
In the short span that I was in my house when the dogs tracked the smell in, I had acquired quite a bit of it. It appears that smell moves like an infectious disease, glomming onto and securing a home in any marginally porous object, myself included. I couldn’t quite seem to get the smell out of my nose but just figured it was lingering in there. More, accurately, it was lingering everywhere. In my shirt, my shoes, my bra, my hat, my HAIR, and I’m not kidding on this one, my cell phone and water bottle. Literally anything I touched got the smell. I walked into Shannon’s house, aware that I might have a tinge of the smell, but her reaction confirmed the worst. “Ohh ryan…can you um…use the other bathroom?” oh nooo! I smell don’t I?! …dammit…it’s everywhere! “ya…use the other bathroom. the other bathroom, can you go to the other bathroom…ya…sleep in that room over there too.” I was exiled to the separate wing of the house (swiftly I might add) and I don’t blame them! Can you imagine if I had gone to the movie theatre? Well, I suppose people who go to see movies at 11pm on a Tuesday may not mind really. But at Shannon’s I tried to be as cautious as possible. I put all my clothes outside and had left to wear only a sweatshirt (that was left in my car…the car which now also smelled just from driving in it 15 minutes) and a shirt that didn’t seem to absorb the smell (or am I just desensitized! I don’t know!). I couldn’t figure out why my hands still smelled until I whiffed my stainless steal water bottle…are you kidding me?! Put it outside…put it outside.
Needless to say, that night I also hopped in her (guest/exiled wing) shower to fully scrub myself of skanum. As many of you may know I’m kind of opposed to imitation smells, fragrant chemical additives and the like. I mean, I wash my hair with cider vinegar people. But that night I wanted the most perfume-ridden, girly hair product you’d got to give and I was prepared to do a triple wash that would dry my hair to hay consistency if necessary. Lotion? Slather it on! (Especially if it’s label includes three variations of flower and fruit) Fabreeze? Yes please! Disinfectant? More! More!
Day 2: My nose is exhausted from smelling everything to make sure I wasn’t reinfecting myself with the skanum stank (please try to visualize this for humor purposes). Next morning I went out to reassess my clothes, billowing in the cool morning breeze and about half of them still stink. Fantastic. Then as I sat on the couch reading my book I get a whiff of something so foul it must be Tron’s (shannon’s pooch) fart. I move to another spot. Oh lordy…it’s still me. But I bathed! I sniff tested everything! I wash my hands again and go to pick up my book. The book. Oh my god it’s the book. And there perhaps you have a picture of the potent power of the skunk. Needless to say that when I returned to my house later on Day 2, the scent rebelliously lingered among the incense, Oust spray, Fabreeze, and lavender essence. Not too bad. Tolerable at least. I sniffed just about every object in my room and the damage was not as bad as I thought. You can imagine what I thought when even my book and cellphone managed to harbor the smell away from the source and through the night in clean air. But that’s what’s funny. I think I adjusted. I’m currently sitting at the public library with that familiar lump in my throat. Every time I move, I get a whiff of the skanum again. I’ve come to accept that this skunk will be with me for a few more days. I’m making lots of friends….