Get Off My Lawn

I can't tell if he's laughing or crying.

This Is Not A Drill

I don’t know if my sense of smell is more sensitive than the average person’s, but there are odours in this world that can cause my stomach to pitch and roll. And it has gotten worse over the years. I live in a high rise apartment that was built during the first big oil boom of the 1970’s, and though the building has had a lot of cosmetic reconstruction and looks quite nice, the infrastructure is old and creaky. At least twice a month our water is shut off for patchwork repairs, which I assume are done with a bit of bubble gum and duct tape, and the ventilation system is a cruel joke of sorts. We live in a corner suite, which means we have little noise, but it also means we get a fair bit of smells that are accrued from God knows where in the building.

It is not uncommon to be woken at 2 a.m. by a smell of garlic so strong I am practically choking on my dry heaves. Or on a Sunday at 10 a.m. we are assaulted with a smell of fish, garlic, and onions so pervasive and intense it causes a panic and I have a semblance of empathy for a G8 protester who has been tear gassed. At these times I regularly ask/yell the same ridiculous questions : What kind of demon would decide to eat that much garlic at 2 a.m. on a Wednesday? Why the fuck can’t they just have a peanut butter and jam sandwich? Why can’t they eat bacon and eggs for breakfast? How can you eat something so vomit-inducing first thing in the morning? Why is the ventilation such that it funnels the unfiltered smells of what I can only guess is the collective smell of evil right into our second bathroom?


This is usually how the exercise goes. My wife and I will be enjoying our day/evening. One of us will catch the first snatches. If it’s my wife she’ll say, “Am I smelling stink?”

I will pause the television and point my nose in the air, and swivel my head from side to side. “I don’t think so.” This is my denial. I am still prone to deny the horror even after ten years. I am desperate for my wife to be imagining things.

“Go check in the hall,” I am ordered, and though I am afraid to face what might be out there, I swallow my fear and do what must be done. And that is when I am hit with the full force of all that is corrupting to the nose. Sometimes it’s even mixed with cigarette smoke or pot but mostly it’s the same three smells: garlic, onions, and fish. Sometimes separately, sometimes all at once.

“OH MY GOD THAT STINKS!!” I will scream as I scurry frantically back inside. I run immediately to our massive supply of incense, and with the skill of a seasoned veteran, I place a stick in the holder and light it fast; sometimes the stink requires two sticks–and on especially bad days three–placed strategically throughout the apartment. As I do this my wife grabs a towel that is folded neatly on the top shelf of the coat closet. She unravels the towel and folds it neatly lengthwise along the bottom of the door. Next, she grabs the strips of packing tape that hang discreetly on the door jamb, and uses the tape to make an airtight seal around the door. This can all be done in 15 to 30 seconds.

I'm thinking of getting a pair of attack skunks to counteract the chemical warfare we are subjected to.

I’m thinking of getting a pair of attack skunks to counteract the chemical warfare we are subjected to.

“Oh my fucking lord that was nasty,” I will proclaim. “Jesus Chriiiiiiist. Oh my god. Jesus Mary and Joseph what the fuck is wrong with people? How can you even taste your food if you have that much spice and shit on it?” We catch our breath and sometimes laugh in relief at having survived another attack.

We stayed sealed in until we feel the danger has passed. If someone happens to come to the door, it’s a procedure to take down the tape; it takes a bit of time and some noise, and no doubt must give the impression that a couple of lunatics have possibly shut themselves away, fearing microwaves from aliens. But this is a small price to pay to avoid such an assault. And if ever a biological weapon or gas attack occurs, we’ll be more than ready. And who’ll be laughing then?

Categories: Humour

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40 replies

  1. Omg!!!! That is hysterical! Mainly because I don’t live there…


  2. A heightened sense of smell comes with pregnancy. Have you been putting on any unexpected weight?…

    I’m very sensitive to smells, too, so I feel your pain. As much as it’s annoying to keep up with yard and house maintenance, you’ve made me glad I don’t live in an apartment complex right now.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So what sort of reaction did you get from the seller/owner when you went about smelling the condo?


  4. Before buying the condo, make sure to visit at 3am on a random night. The real estate agent always proclaims to be available 24/7. Make them work for their commission. But leave your duct tape, towel and pregnancy test at home. They might get suspicious for your motives. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I find it mildly entertaining that you need to pause the television to smell something. Does this mean they have finally invented smell-a-vision? Actually, I totally get it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. We have a family from Fiji living two doors down from us. We live in a typical suburban neighborhood. Regularly and frequently, I can be outside and can smell the curry coming from their house. It is not an attractive smell for me and it drives me into my house.


    • Curry I wouldn’t mind so much.


      • It is, as far as I’m concerned, the worst cooking smell. There’s a little cafe just down the street from my office. They specialize in a particular ethnic food (forget exactly what it is), but when lunch time rolls around and they are cooking away, I can’t stand it. The scent of curry is so overpowering. There is no way I could ever go into that place for lunch it so disgusts me.


  7. I love your hatred for putrid smells. It is hilarious! Although I do feel for you…that sounds awful. Garlic is nasty shit!

    The only smell story I can relate to this is that I almost got sprayed by a skunk a few nights ago. You may have human neighbors who smell up the ducts and hallways, but imagine opening your front door to see a skunk with his tail raised facing you. THE HORROR!


  8. I hired some guy to roast garlic by your door as you sleep.


  9. i am scent-sensitive, which I like, because it means I can appreciate many wonderful outdoor smells that others miss. Unlike others, I enjoy smells usually considered unpleasant: repair bays in garages, skunk spray (though not TOO close), musty antique shops.

    But too much cheap perfume makes me feel almost nauseated, or literally nauseated when I am approaching a migraine. And many cooking smells make me feel quite ill. Organ meats and onions. Fried fish. Burnt meat. Really disgusting. I often suffer from these in the condo where I am now forced to live.

    I feel for you and your wife. My go-to is Febreze, but even that is challenged on the worst occasions. And the smoke clings. Nasty. Some people are terrible cooks, aren’t they?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Holy shit. I love the smell of skunk spray too (though not TOO close). The mornings are the worst. My stomach can be a little wabbly til I get that first cup of coffee. I run the stairs in my building and I often see cigarette buts in the stairwell. Lazy buggers can’t be bothered to go outside. And as far as cooking goes I don’t understand how you can taste your food with that much garlic or onion or whatever on it. Or maybe they’re just eating garlic only. Barf.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Did you, by any chance, have asthma as a child?

        I’m afraid I do like quite a bit of garlic, though not as much as mainland Chinese, and I have learned to like quite a bit of onion, as well. Never both at once! My stomach feels queasy at that one. I lived with a guy who used DMSO–the garlic-like topical drug–smells like a combo of garlic and a corpse. Memorable. A memory I wish I didn’t have. Took me years to be able to tolerate real garlic again. (shudder!)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hahaha. Great post. No I didn’t have asthma as a kid. I pretty much like all the same kind of smells you do. I also love love the smell of rain. I can no longer tolerate the smell of garlic. We live right near a university campus so we have a ton of Chinese in our building. I wear Perry Ellis 360 and I love it (just a little though).

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for that “great”.
        I had Chinese working for me, and the garlic was…oh boy. I’ve never smelled Perry Ellis. Will have to get hold of some and check it out.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. OMG! I’m dying!!! hahaha
    I get what you mean. We very rarely cook fish and other stinky food at home but when we do it’ll be in the patio coz we don’t want it to stick to the walls… and usually during the summer time only (stink lingers when it’s cold)… We try to be considerate neighbors so we only cook it around lunch time when people are usually awake or at work. I can imagine being woken up thinking we’re being attacked with stink bombs… LOL

    You are a very funny guy… and great writing style… very entertaining.
    You have a new fan. 🙂

    ❤ BP



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