What’s That Smell?


The aroma was intoxicating as I entered our home.  The smell of fresh baked cookies filled the air.  Cade and I marched toward the kitchen to discover no cookies.  Slowly my hand waved over the stove.  The stove was cold.  No sign of cookies to be found.  A shimmering light from the dining room caught my eye.  “Homemade Sugar Cookies,” read the label on the glass jar.  “Why have a candle that smells like food?”  I often wonder.  My wife tends to like sweet smelling air fresheners.  I just don’t understand them.  I get the idea of a clean scent.  But the smell of fresh baked goodness should be reserved for the real deal.  Cade was now craving cookies.  He and I headed back out the door to the supermarket.

“Dad,” asked Cade.  “Who’s going to win in Batman vs Superman?”

He has been looking forward to this movie for quite a while now.  “Superman,” I replied.

“Batman wins,” he disagreed.  “I can’t wait to see that movie.”

“When does that movie come out Cade?”

“March 25, 2016,” he informed me.  Cade loves going to the movies.  He can state the opening dates of most major productions for the entire year.  He also knows the dates of many smaller films.  I sometime scan through the movie app on my mobile device.  I check for upcoming movie releases.  With the app opened I ask Cade what movie comes out on various dates.  Without hesitation he answers each one precisely.  Cade’s brain is capable of doing things I know I will never do.  However, he is eighteen and can’t complete simple tasks such as tying his shoe laces.

With his mind now on superheroes Cade asked if he could get a toy.  He loves action figures.  Although he has numerous versions of the same characters, he loves getting new ones.  I turned the car around and we headed to a place where we could purchase both cookies and action figures.

Determined to make the place really smell like “Homemade Sugar Cookies” we arrived back home.  The oven was set at 375 degrees.  In went the baking sheet with all the delightful sugary dough.  I cleaned up the mess we made and opened the door to the laundry room.  This is where we store our trash can.  The smell in the laundry room was far different from the smell in the kitchen.  “What’s that smell?”  I asked myself.  It reeked of cat urine.  We have no cats so that couldn’t possibly be the odor.  There are a few strays that seek shelter in the shed in our back yard.  That doesn’t explain this stench.  I sniffed the trash can.  It didn’t appear to be coming from there.  “Maybe it’s the recycle bin,” I thought.  I sniffed in that direction.  Although it was a bit stronger, it didn’t appear to be the source.  I grabbed the candle in the dining room, placed it on top the washing machine and shut the door.

“Brett,” I shouted.  “Would you take out the trash?”

Brett is my wife’s mentally disabled brother.  He lives with us.  He is a twelve year old boy inside a forty-five year old man’s body.  He spends most of his time at home playing video games and singing karaoke.  We give him only a few chores.  His responsibilities at home include feeding the dogs, getting Cade off the bus and taking out the trash.

“Yep,” he replied.  Brett loaded the washing machine with his dirty clothes and tied up the trash bag.  His plump rear end jiggled as he made his way out the house.  The shiny metallic skulls on his boxer shorts barely covered both cheeks.  With his waistband pulled high to his ribcage he shouted, “I wish I was taking you to the trash can.  You jawannadoob!”

“Yeah?  Maybe you should put yourself in the trash.  You squinky squat!”  We continued our argument with made up words.

Brett smiled and mumbled his way to the outdoor trash cans.  In the meantime I locked the door.  As he attempted to turn the knob he began shaking his head.  “Oooooohhhh!  You better open the door.  You tote!”

I stared at him for a moment through the glass.  I began shaking my head.  “Oooooohhh!  I am glad you’re locked out.  You trot!”

I laughed as I let him in.  While stomping his high top tennis shoes, he continued smiling and shaking his head.  He bent over briefly to pull up his mismatched tube socks.  “Now get out of my way.  You dribble drot!”

He continued mumbling as he marched to his bedroom.  After one final laugh he shut his door.  Within moments a familiar sound could be heard.  Brett was now singing “Living on a Prayer” in all his off key glory.

“Ding.”  The oven chimed to signal that the cookies were now done.  Brett took a break from his concert tour to join Cade at the table.  The two of them enjoyed their snack while I cleaned up.  My “Kitchen Bitch” apron was now covered with cookie dough and dish water.  I removed the apron and tossed it in the hamper.  Pleasantly I noticed the odor was gone from the laundry room.  There must have been something in the trash can producing that funky smell.

The break from the funk was short lived.  The next morning I gasped upon opening the door.  “What’s that smell?”  I began removing items from the laundry room.  I was determined to uncover the source.  First out was the trash can.  Sniff…sniff…not it.  Next out the recycle bin.  Sniff…sniff…not it.  Dirty towels.  Sniff…sniff…not it.  Our laundry hamper.  Sniff…sniff…not it.  Brett’s hamper.  Sniff… My head quickly jerked back as I gagged.  The stink of Brett’s body odor was reminiscent of cat urine.  I dumped his few items, added an extra scoop of detergent and started the washer.

“Brett,” I asked.  “Are you out of deodorant?”

“No,” he replied.

“Are you using it?”

“Yes,” he paused then slowly answered.

“How about soap or shower gel?”


“Are you using soap when you shower?”



“Oh yes,” he concluded.  “I always use water when I take a shower.  Why?”

“Just asking.  That’s all.”

I discussed Brett’s hygeine with my wife.  She was shocked to discover the musky odor plaguing our laundry room the past couple weeks was from her brother.  “Oh no!”  She exclaimed.  “People are probably calling my brother ‘the stinky man’.”  We stocked the bathroom with a new assortment of toiletries.  It was a hit.  Brett enjoyed the new products.  The next time he walked by he was “Zestfully” clean.  He retrieved his work clothes from the dryer and headed to his job cloaked in April freshness.

Later that night I received a call from Brett.  He had just finished his work shift and his scooter wouldn’t start.  I informed him I would be there shortly to pick him up.  Upon arrival we loaded his scooter onto the trailer and fastened the tie down straps.   Just as I sat in the car it hit me.  “What’s that smell?”  The pungency returned.  “Brett,” I questioned.  “Did you use the new deodorant we bought?”

“Yes,” he replied.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes,” he paused then answered.

“Well Brett, I hate to tell you but you have been really stinky lately.”

“But I am using deodorant…Really!”

The cool mist splashed my face.  Although it was raining we rode home with the windows down.  The short drive home seemed endless as I held my breath.  When he arrived home Brett did his usual routine.  He kicked off his work shoes in the shed and put on his favorite high top tennis shoes.

“It’s back.”  I announced as I walked in the house.

“What’s back?”  My wife asked.

Brett came in and went straight to the shower.  Meanwhile, my wife and I did our best to figure out the reeking mystery.  With his new loofah and fragrant shower gel Brett scrubbed away.  Could it be a change in body chemistry that was creating this odor?  We continued thinking of all possible causes.

“I am all clean.”  Brett announced as he exited the bathroom.

I paused and became squeamish as I pondered my next move.  I gazed over Brett’s dirty clothes still piled on the bathroom floor.  Slowly I leaned forward and picked up his shirt.  Sniff…sniff…not it.  I then lifted his pants.  Sniff…sniff…not it.  I thought for a moment as I held his underwear and puked in my mouth.  “It’s just not worth it.”  I held my breath and threw those aside.  The only remaining articles were his socks.  As they approached my nose it became very clear.  Just one whiff nearly knocked me out.  Brett has been leaving his work shoes in the shed.  The stray cats have been using his shoes as a litter box.  The socks he wears with those shoes have been contaminating our laundry room.  Additionally, Brett has been going to work emitting the putrid scent of cat urine.  Mystery solved!

P.S.:  I have a pair of black skid proof shoes for sale…real cheap.

Kelly Jude Melerine