It hit me like a fly hits the windshield of a speeding bus.
With the kids at school, my artist working in her studio, and me on a day off, I had stepped out of the house for a couple of hours to put up some of our Christmas light display on our western Canadian, suburban home. With 8,000 bulbs in our display, it takes a lot of time and even more thought to set it up.
By the time I had another 2,000 bulbs on the house, I was mentally drained.
I needed to shut my brain off. I needed to feel my cold-numbed fingers and toes. I needed to go inside.
So, I did.
But it didn’t go very well for me on this day.
Normally, when my wife is in her studio — having cleared a space large enough amid the unspeakable mess — it’s not noticed by anyone. Her music will be playing, usually Hillsong Worship; she’ll have a paintbrush in hand; and she’ll go about her work not disturbing anyone else. It’s a nice, quiet career she has. I mean, she could be a drummer.
Except. Except — while quiet — it can get a bit, shall we say, odour-ific. Not often. But enough.
On this day, I mindlessly opened our white backdoor. I stepped across the threshold onto our back landing up the stairs from my wife’s basement art studio.
It hit me immediately. That smell! What a revolting, overwhelming stench!
The fly on that bus’ windshield had nothing on me.
I stood there desperately trying to hold my jolly, red nose with my frozen fingers while frantically trying to get my boots off my equally frozen feet.
Forget shutting my brain off. Forget warming up. Forget going inside. I now absolutely needed to get somewhere, anywhere that this stench wasn’t.
In my mindless fog, I scrambled to our master bedroom to seek refuge. Nope. Living room. Nope. Kitchen. Nope. The stench was everywhere. EVERYWHERE! (That’s a “caps lock” everywhere!)
Finally, in desperation, I found a clothes pin in our utility drawer and despite my nose also being frozen I clamped it on there. My life depended on it, after all.
Finally, with my nostrils experiencing sought-after relief — I swear the stench was so thick I could take a bite out of it — I fumbled for my phone.
I dared not go downstairs where I knew the stench was emanating.
Instead, I texted my lovely wife with my thawing fingers. While I was slightly concerned for her well-being, I was most concerned about whether she was still using whatever it was that caused the stench.
“What are you doing down there?” I queried before dropping the point of my message. “When will you be done? It stinks EVERYWHERE. ?”
I waited eons for her response.
“Sorry about the smell,” she responded less than a minute later. “I’m done.”
Sorry? My nostrils certainly were.
To this day, I don’t know what that stench was. I don’t really want to find out either.
But, if she ever needed to use it again I communicated clearly that I was fine with it — it’s her career, after all — as long as she never, ever unleashed it when anyone else was home… and with the caveat that a supply of clothes pins be available at the back landing.