The Strange Smell in the Room: Is it You?

It’s the end of February, and it’s been almost three months since I left my apartment for something other than food, class, or a night of getting blackout-drunk enough to not feel like the winter is pushing my soul through a colander made of frozen shit. Not only am I developing a pretty majestic beer gut from all this sitting around, but I’ve arrived at a point where I have to wear sunglasses whenever I leave the house, even if it’s cloudy. Salinger wasn’t this much of a recluse. If it weren’t for TV, I might have forgotten how to say words by now.

Thank God for TV

Some of the things that go along with being a recluse, I’ve found, are:

• Erosion of social skills
• Strong feeling of personal involvement while watching re-runs of African-American sitcoms from the 90’s (e.g. “Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper”, “Martin”)
• Thinking that Twitter might not be a waste of time (see #1)
• Increasingly poor personal hygiene

Apropos of that last point, I was sitting in the back of this utterly useless class I’m taking the other day, and I smelled something unusual. This wasn’t your everyday out-of-place smell, either. It kind of smelled like a dead mouse resting on a plate of refried beans in a weight room. Naturally, I assumed it was me. I sniffed around – my sleeves, my hands, under my sweater, and so on. Inconclusive. I bent down to get something out of my bag to try and get an idea as to whether it was coming from my shoes – nothing. Of course, at that point everyone in the class who was awake thought it was coming from me. There was nothing I could do. I went back to updating my list of people I’m taking down with me if I’m ever forced to go out in a blaze of glory.

Since I’m positive that something like this has happened to all of you at least once in the past, I decided that it might be good to provide a little quiz to help you determine if that weird smell is coming from you, in the absence of a positive smell-test:

1. First of all, which of these best describes the smell?

      A. Fart, possibly burrito-related
      B. Chinese food restaurant dumpster in the rain
      C. Burning medical waste
      D. God’s Final Day of Judgment

2. How’s the ventilation where you live?

      A. Pretty good, lots of windows/a ceiling fan
      B. The fire alarm goes off when I fry bacon
      C. The fire alarm goes off when I get out of bed
      D. When people come over, sometimes they get a bloody nose and pass out for a long time

3. What kind of laundry detergent do you use?

      A. Tide
      B. Generic brand
      C. Pantene Pro-V
      D. The power of hope

4. Which of these best describes your couch?

      A. Brand new or newly re-upholstered
      B. Ratty but comfortable
      C. Got it second-hand from the waiting room of Ricky’s Offshore Surgical School & Pawn Shop in Antigua
      D. Looks a lot like the floor

5. When was the last time you cleaned your bathroom?

      A. In the past six months
      B. In the past
      C. Probably better to just wear the face mask
      D. The mold can talk, but it only knows a few words and one of them is “death”

6. Have you ever found any (non-human) living thing crawling on you?

      A. No, gross
      B. Yes, I was camping and it was nasty
      C. Yes, and it laid its eggs on me
      D. Yes, and it screamed as it dropped down from my ceiling with a crude flint knife

7. Which world leader are you most often compared to?

      A. Barack Obama
      B. Silvio Berlusconi
      C. Muammar al-Ghadafi
      D. Scuz Filthski

8. Lastly, which of the following songs appeals to you the most?

      A. “Muskrat Ramble” by Lawrence Welk
      B. “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding” by Elvis Costello
      C. “Raining Blood” by Slayer
      D. “Rockstar” by Nickelback

Pencils down! Now add up your answers: A’s are worth 2 points, B’s are worth 4, C’s are 6, and D’s are 10.


16-22 points

You’re good, dude. The smell’s coming from outside or the guy next to you. You probably have an anxiety-related personality disorder though, so you might want to get that checked out.

24-36 points

There’s a possibility that the smell is coming from you, but I wouldn’t put it at higher than 30%. You’re a little bit scuzzy, but so are most people, and in the end everyone will probably just think you’re a hipster. Pick up some Febreze and some Speed-Stick if in doubt.

38-50 points

It’s probably you. You’re almost filthy enough to not let on an airplane. If you fell asleep on a park bench, you’d wake up in the drug addict room at the homeless shelter doused in Pine-Sol. Take a shower, or at least run down to the zoo and get a monkey to pick those lice out of your back hair.

52-80 points

It’s definitely you. Throw away everything you own, and then see if you can find a fire hose that sprays holy water.