Wednesday, April 13, 2011

smells (out of place)

This morning the pungent, salty, unexpectedly tantalizing odor of soy sauce wafting through the bus on my way to work was practically overwhelming.  One smells a lot of food on the bus, but generally it falls in the realm of fried grease: egg & cheese sandwiches, McDonald's french fries, Wendy's hamburgers.  The soy sauce was a first for me, and a particularly strange one at 7:37am on a rainy Wednesday morning.

Which made me remember last night, and the moment we stepped out of the train at 181st Street.  I think I was the first to notice (being finely attuned to such things after years in Mohegan Lake*), but within moments dozens of hardened urban commuters were wrinkling their noses, sniffing, and peering around suspiciously.

It was the unmistakable odor of skunk.  Again.

The funny thing, though, is that while everyone was groaning and wondering what had happened (Was the culprit still wandering the dank tunnels of the train station, ready to let loose in our midst? Was it dead somewhere? Should we call 311 to report it?), no one looked particularly disgusted.

I found myself wondering if they, like me, found the smell oddly nostalgic, even comforting in its way, and it made me laugh to think of these tough New Yorkers being reduced to mush by a furry little black & white creature, tail raised high, spraying out its odoriferous perfume with the power to drag us all back to our childhoods.

*Our Mohegan Lake cat, Star, had a penchant for hanging out with a family of skunks under our neighbors' back porch.  He was black & white, they were black & white, it's an old, old story.  He never got sprayed, but he would come home somtiems with an ever so subtle hint of skunk about him.  Much more offensive to our sensibilities was the fact that our Mohegan Lake dog, Maccabbee, had a tradition of managing to get skunk-sprayed on the eve of our annual departure for Idaho.  He would run away and come slinking home hours later, whining and reeking, and we would spend the night dunking him first in tomato sauce baths and then in coffee baths in never-entirely-successful attempts to make him presentable in time for our flight out of New York at the crack of dawn the following morning.

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