Elan Morgan is a writer and web designer who works from Elan.Works, a designer and editor at GenderAvenger, and a speaker who has spoken across North America. They believe in and work to grow both personal and professional quality, genuine community, and meaningful content online.

Phantom Odour

This morning, when I was getting dressed to go to work, I kept smelling this strange smell. It was a smell that was atypical and difficult to discern; it could have been animal, vegetable, mineral, or any combination of those three. My socks didn't look so hot, but their smell was nothing like this phantom odour that I was trying to locate.

Eventually, I decided that it had to be the cat, because he seemed to be the only proximal constant while I was getting ready. He cuddled with my face when the alarm clock went off, sat at the other end of the shower while I washed my hair, sniffed my mascara during its curious application, sat on my shoulders while I checked my e-mail, and went through my purse while I put on my coat and shoes. He was everywhere and the smell was everywhere, so it seemed natural to peg it on Oskar.

When I arrived at work, I could smell the smell again. It was a weird mixture of sweet mustiness with a sour undertone. I lifted my shirt and gave it a sniff.

I am not all that bright sometimes, apparently. The cat was not the only proximal constant this morning. It never occurred to me that I could be carrying around the proximal constant. If it had occurred to me, and gawd but I wish it had, I would not be sitting at my desk right now stewing in a stench cloud.

"Stewing in a stench cloud", by the way, is not imbued with all the lustre, the razzle-dazzle, that it seems it could project.

My shirt stinks, and I have no idea how this happened. It was hanging up in my closet along with some of my other clothing, none of which looked disgusting. I can't figure out why it would smell this way.

If it was a normal stink, like onions from cooking or incense from a shop or even cigarette smoke, I could live with it. This is not a normal stink, though. It is a little sweet, a little rotten, a little sour. It smells like I had a mesh bag filled with fruit, corned beef, and maybe a wad of some moist flower petals and left it to moulder on a hanger in the closet next to this shirt. I imagine that a mummy might smell quite a bit like this in its early stages when it is freshly wrapped but not quite entirely dry.

I imagine that you are wondering what I am still doing here in my cubicle wearing this disgusting thing rather than running home to fix the situation.

There happens to be a blizzard going on outside. I checked out the window of some lucky upper with a window to the outside, and I could not see past the parking lot. I am not waiting outside for a bus home, walking four blocks to the apartment, walking four blocks back to the bus stop, waiting outside for another bus, and then bussing back across town to work in the middle of a blizzard. It would take me a couple of hours and a lot of walking through blinding snow just to stop smelling like a dampish mummy.

Now that I put it like that with the dampish mummy reference, I really should fix my stenchfulness, but I don't want to leave, because a bunch of us are ordering in Kentucky Fr!ed Ch!cken for lunch, and I haven't had such greasy fair in at least a week.

Perhaps, if I sneak off and rub a drumstick under my shirt, it will overpower the disembowelled corpsey smell. It could be like that time I spilled Italian dressing all over my sweater and people kept asking me what smelled so good.

Come to think of it, this corpsey smell might be what was attracting the cat this morning. At one point, he stuck his head under my shirt and licked the inside of it. Now I see that I mistook his attention for affection when he was probably reacting to an urge to roll in something dead.