Yesterday afternoon I shaved, which is something I do every three or four days (the pain heightens the general sense of being alive), and then afterwards went looking for some sort of lotion for my skin. Quite naturally the search took me to my wife's bathroom, which is the best place to find lotions of every brand and flavor. I'm not particular when it comes to this sort of thing, and so I laid hand upon the first lotion handy.
Now, my eyesight is not what it used to be and tends to pick up key words rather than comprehensive descriptions. What I saw, therefore, were the words Coach, moisturizing, and lotion.
Perfect. I poured out a large dollop and applied it to my tender cheeks.
Sensation as it seems, for one in my position anyway, is often more immediately informative than visualization--for the immediate olfactory and tactile message received was that this stuff I had just applied to my face was not right at all. This was certainly like no lotion I had ever smelled, and definitely not like anything I had ever smelled on my wife.
Well, those familiar with the brand name Coach will know straightaway that this is a purse, not a body lotion, and that this particular Coach lotion is meant for softening leather, not the soothing of faces.
For the rest of the day I smelled like a saddle bag.
It's quite chilly in Portland this week. Temperatures in the 20s, dropping in the evening to the teens. So I decided to make a fire in our wood burning stove. This would be the first fire of the winter, and therefore necessitated some work in preparation--specifically the removal of all sort of things that had piled up against the stove during warmer days, so as to avoid setting these (and the house) on fire.
This was accomplished (to the best of my knowledge at the time), the wood was cut into thin pieces of kindling, and then the larger hunks that would follow, and the fire was successfully ignited, and soon burning like a furnace.
I went about other chores, happy for the growing warmth in the house.
This is where, once again, sensation kicked in, for no matter how foggy my brain becomes, my nose remains as clear-minded as ever. In much the same way as had happened with the purse lotion mistaken for aftershave balm, this fire in the stove simply did not smell right. It didn't smell like a wood fire at all, but rather like I would imagine napalm to smell, or an uncontrolled blaze in a tire factory.
A focused investigation revealed the problem. I had not after all moved all the aforementioned things from the vicinity of the stove, but had neglected one. This was (or used to be) a large green plastic armored vehicle belonging to my son which had previously made itself obscure directly upon the iron top of the stove--not a tank now, of course, but a puddle, a spreading, oozing, sizzling little lake of piping hot slime.
It was my son himself who made the positive identification. I grabbed what was immediately available from the kitchen--a metal spatula, two or three dish towels, and as I ladled the smoking goo into the towels, Sasha danced nervously back and forth, holding a sweater to his nose, shrieking Don't breathe, don't breathe, it's TOXIC!
During the holiday season, some peoples houses smell of pine and cider, some of cinnamon and cookie dough.
Mine smells of freshly fried plastic, with just a hint of five canisters of Ocean Breeze air freshener.