Saturday, September 28, 2013

Battling olfactory offenses

While normally I'm amazed by the ability of my nostrils to unearth memories buried deep within my brain, this week I fear the horrific paths my nose will lead my future self.

The culprit for this reign of odoriferous terror? 

Butter vomit*.

Let me back up.

On Wednesday, I decided to make some chocolate chip cookies because they're delicious and they make my house smell like I'm some sort of domestic goddess rather than the frumpy, debris-covered picture of domestic calamity that I am normally.

I left two sticks of unsalted butter on the counter to soften and went about my business. When cookie-making time came, I was collecting supplies and went to grab my freshly softened sticks, only they were missing. Spirited away by some butter- thieving sprite.

He still feels really bad about it.
It took less than a quarter of a second to figure out the perp -- who never actually left the scene of the crime and ironically had the balls to be staring up at me hopefully, wagging his tail ever so slightly. 

"Snacks, you're an asshole," I told the dog. "I hope that feels good coming out later." 

Luckily I had more butter (although not unsalted). I forged ahead with the cookie making.

In between dough mixing and baking I popped my head in the living room to check on the girls and found them playing amongst themselves. Snacks was also hanging out with them, too, standing calmly on the carpet while Jovie played with her kitchen.

A little too calmly. 

I went further into the living room and found Snacks staring at this (it's about to get real graphic up in here ... and I apologize for that. But you know what they say about a picture being worth a 1,000 hurls ... err ... words). 

That's paper, partially digested dog food and, of course, butter.
Because, you know, when you need to yack up two sticks of wrapped butter and your dinner, the white living room carpet is the best place. 

When I found Snacks, I'm pretty sure he was considering the pluses and minuses of eating the butter vomit. (Positives: It was delicious the first time around, I don't even have to chew and it's still warm! Negatives: It's my own vomit).

Before he could follow through on the inevitable, I sent Snacks out to the sunroom and began butter vomit cleanup -- which involved a lot of paper towels, carpet cleaner and gag reflex control.

Despite not being an especially gifted stain cleaner (sad considering how many I've had address on this very carpet) I was pretty pleased with the results. Other than a faint yellowish tinge, you really couldn't tell a heaping pile of grease and kibble had just occupied that space.

There was just one small, teensy problem. 

My living room smelled like a movie theater. Now, I know that might, at first whiff, sound like a good thing. Who doesn't love the smell of buttered popcorn! But I want you to think about the movie theater smell. Like really think about it. Because yes, it smelled strongly of buttered popcorn (well at least the butter part) but then layered in there was the stench of sticky movie theater floors, and crusty movie theater seats sat on by hundreds of moviegoers and the sourness of movie theater bathrooms. 

Right in my living room. Without the benefit of a movie starring Ryan Gosling or Joseph Gordon Levitt** or somebody of that level of ... talent. 

It was not pleasant. 

And the situation didn't improve when I decided to cook chicken with creamy mushroom sauce the next night. And it really didn't improve when I decided to fight movie theater/butter vomit with a "Frosty Air" scented candle which smelled like vanilla mint gum. Which on its own might not have been a problem. But when combined with butter vomit and chicken with creamy mushroom sauce smelled just ... awful. It was awful. 

So I blew out the candle and opened windows hoping the whole smellsaster would just blow away.

Some of it did eventually. Today I think I sponged away the last of the stench -- or maybe I've gotten used to it. But I'm seriously worried about the next time I go to the movies (not that that will happen anytime soon ... as I've already established) but I'd like it to at least be an enjoyable experience. 

"Olfaction is an ancient sense, the key by which our earliest forebears learned to approach or slink off. Yet the right aroma can evoke such vivid, whole body sensations that we feel life’s permanent newness, the grounding of now," Natalie Angier wrote in the New York Times. "... Numerous studies have shown that smell memory is long and resilient, and that the earliest odor associations we make often stick."

I'll always associate the smell of Romance by Ralph Lauren with my wedding day, the smell of sawdust and coffee with my dad and the smell of crayons with my adorable lime green VW Beetle. 

And now to that list I get to add movie theaters and the disgusting smell of regurgitated butter. Ahh. sweet bliss.

* I apologize for writing about vomit again

** His adorable mug was all over the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly. See: 

And on a totally non-obnoxious-fawning note I got really stoked about the possibilities of hitRECord -- where Levitt is creating this collaborative community of artists. Here's a good explanation for how it works. My sister Sarah and I have this deal that if I write something and submit it, she'll doodle something and submit it. So now I just have to write something. Which shouldn't be a problem at all**. 

*** That was sarcastic.

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