I stayed for a week at my daughter’s apartment, so that I could have a change of air and decrease my flare-up of allergies and mild asthma. I normally stay for a weekend but the desert area I live in is a golfer’s paradise and they love to scalp the grass to a sixteenth of an inch of its life, then reseed, and over water before the season starts. Airborne allergens are horrific. I’m not complaining because we love our seasonal tourists, and our golfers, because they bring much needed revenue to the city. But you’d think there was a better way to deal with the grass.
Now I know you’re asking, what does scalping, and grass, and re-seeding have to do with a dead rat dinner? Patience, dear friends, I’m getting there. My daughter and I usually eat out or order in, but being away for a week, well…that gets old for me because I like cooking, and I like my food done the way I like it. One night I prepared a wok dinner of peppers and onions, made a nice bowl of brown rice, and had brown rice tortillas and mozzarella cheese, and some chopped up pre-cooked chicken breast. Easy peasy. There wasn’t any soy sauce, so I added a few dashes of some wasabi dipping sauce, thinking that would do the trick. Onion and I often disagree, so I made sure I cooked it all really well. It smelled great, but I wondered if I should open windows to ventilate. The vent over the gas range didn’t seem to work. It was well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit that day, the air conditioner was on, and it was hot in the small kitchen. So I didn’t.
Daughter arrived home late from work and didn’t say anything, other than, “So, you cooked.” I’d already eaten and was enjoying a glass of Pinot Noir. She’d eaten at work, so we watched a little TV and went to bed early. In the night I awoke with a giant headache, and I could smell the odor of the food. Was it on me? Was it in my hair? Was it oozing out my pores? I didn’t want to disturb my daughter by taking a shower, and figured the headache was from the wine so drank a large glass of water, and then went back to sleep. When I got up next morning my daughter had already left for work. The place smelled funky so I opened some windows. I ate a bowl of cereal, downed an extra strong coffee and left for a walk. The odor was still with me, hovering around like a big stinky cloud. I planned on a shower and shampoo as soon as I got home.
A few minutes after I arrived home the apartment manager rang my doorbell. “Do you smell a bad odor?” she asked.
My body was overheated from the walk. I didn’t sniff my pit, but wondered. “No. No problems.”
“It seems to be coming from this region of the building,” she said, peeking over my shoulder and scoping out the apartment.
I thought of all those New York stories and wondered if she was looking for a decomposed body.
“Right in this corner,” she said, and looked up at an air vent in the hallway. “The guys in the next apartment said they have no problem.”
I was about to explain the onions, and last night’s dinner when she gave me an odd look and wrinkled her nose.
“It smells like a dead rat.”
“I hope not,” I said, casting an eye on the overhead vent and trying to keep the guilt from washing over my face. I eased the door closed a bit. “I’ll let you know if I smell anything bad.”
No way in hell was I ‘fessing up to dead rat dinner. I shut the door, cranked up the AC, opened all the sliders and the windows, and used an entire spray can of Febreeze, even spraying the vents, and the hallway. I thoroughly cleaned the kitchen, tossed the leftovers, and took out the trash. Then I showered and washed my hair.
By noon the dead rat smell was gone. That night I ate salad.