ORW: Unnatural Odors

A smell wafted from our refrigerator.

No one was sure what it was or where it came from. But it was THERE, without a doubt. Lingering, spreading, pooling out in invisible noxious clouds whenever the fridge swung open. A putrid combination of unwashed socks, rotten egg yolk and some sort of aged crocodile feces. Just awful—and untraceable.

For several weeks we struggled against this growing aroma. Visitors joked about it whenever they showed up, until one died from asphyxiation and the jokes stopped. The smell didn’t, though, and the situation turned sour.

One began expecting ominous background music whenever the refrigerator door opened, like some B-movie horror schlock. It Came From the Back of the Fridge…starring four mostly-Caucasian roommates in their early to mid twenties.

Lurking in the chilly depths of the odiferous food storage unit, some mutated coleslaw monster would spring from one of the neglected back shelves with its mayonnaise-coated tentacles spinning, latching onto our faces and sucking our brain tissue out through our nasal cavities.

“GASP, it’s the coleslaw monster! Beware the Purple Cabbage!”

And scene.

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Before too long the retch-worthy smell became unbearable, and so we went at the fridge like a long overdue Mr. Clean on crack.  (No actual illegal substances were ingested in our cleaning attempts. As for what Mr. Clean is really on, one will never know for sure.) Out came the rags, and the rubber gloves, and the large bucket of vinegar.

“Oh good, I was wondering when we were actually going to get to use this,” said roommate Ryan. “I’ve just been taking baths in it up to this point.”

And then it was evac-time, pulling out everything we could fit onto our counter spaces and kitchen tile and dining table. Half-finished Hungry Man trays, days-old tubs of tuna fish and egg salad sandwiches, tinfoil covered microwaved steak. Really a conglomerate of potential stink sources, but none of them gave up an odor. And yet  the smell REMAINED.

We splashed vinegar water on every conceivable interior surface of this damn fridge, and went to town swabbing down the bins and shelves and walls and door sections. It was Operation Suds and Destroy. The whole area was quarantined off for the safety of others. And as a KO, we threw in an open box of Arm & Hammer and left it to do its job of sucking up odors.

Which left us with the problem of a bunch of food sitting out. I believe we declared a binge night.

Not much was accomplished in the two or so weeks the Arm & Hammer squatted there in the fridge—the smell declared, “Really? Pathetic. Get at me.” And the top layer of the baking soda just sort of turned brown.

But being enterprising young college students, we weren’t ready to throw in the towel quite—oh all right, obvious BS—being brain head complacent college students (and more tellingly, male), we just gave up and dealt with the smell. We were tired of ramen and ketchup, of Pop-Tarts for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We wanted real food again, dammit—like freezer-burnt Mexican Grill taquitos.

So we developed a sort of mutual relationship with the stench, a compromising win-win we could all be happy about.

“Heads up everybody, I’m going for a snack. Gas masks on.”

Eventually we nuked the fridge. Like literally, we rebelled against the migraine-inducing aroma and atomically wasted the bitch. Nuclear meltdown does wonders for getting rid of odors, let me tell you.

Now we just have to deal with the slightly lesser evil of radioactive poisoning. But hey, no worries.