Is This Thing O

It is really rather absurd that I haven't updated in so, so long, as at least two interesting things have happened to me in the past ten days. One of these interesting things was quite lovely; the other interesting thing was about as bad as finding hidden in your dresser a decomposing squirrel corpse which leaves a pungent smell in your room for four days afterwards.

1) Sometimes the metaphor is the story.

I had been going into my dresser for a few days and noticing a light odor like sawdust, but I figured it was, uh, sawdust, and so I didn't pursue it any further. My apartment building is constantly under construction, getting paint jobs, lighting fart bombs on fire, etc., and so I figured that the cause of the stench was the condo team's stink crew stinkin' it up in the lobby again.

And so I went to Phuket for a week, and returned, and didn't have occasion to open the dresser doors for a couple days; and when I did....well, let's just say that either the sawdust had been replaced with manure, or something pungently horrible had happened in my dresser. I began pawing around in there and, after lifting up a pillow and some newspapers I had kept in the bottom corner of the closet, I saw it: the decomposing body of a small squirrel, surrounded by flies.

With the pillow lifted and the newspapers removed, the smell became almost unbearable. I quickly shut the door, but it was too late: standing within ten feet of the closet meant getting a whiff of rotting squirrel corpse.

I began to think back: How in the hell had a squirrel gotten in my closet? (This morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas). I could remember, vaguely, these scratching sounds I had started hearing coming from my closet at night--every few hours for a couple of nights before leaving for Phuket I would hear these three-second bursts of what sounded like claws on wood. I figured it was my next-door neighbors moving furniture, or that maybe they owned a small, rat-like dog. I never considered that a squirrel was trapped in my dresser, clawing desperately to get free. Though that scenario is, with all due respect, Captain Rabbit Hugger of PETA, pure speculation.

I went downstairs to tell my landlady that I had a tiny, dead-squirrel-shaped problem in my room. This would have been a delicate issue anyway, made even more delicate by the fact that I don't speak Thai, and my landlady barely speaks English. The conversation went something like this:

ME: I have a problem.
LANDLADY: A problem?
ME: There is a dead squirrel in my closet.
LANDLADY (in Thai): What? [She didn't understand]
ME: Have...a dead room.
LANDLADY: Oh, no, no, no...not allowed to have animals in the room.
ME: Animal is dead. Dead.
LANDLADY: Dd..det?
ME: Dead. Dead. (in Thai) I can write.
LANDLADY: Okay, okay, you write.
[She gets me a piece of a paper and a pen]
ME [written]:

"There is a dead animal in my closet."


She called up the super and a janitor to come to my room, and she came, too. The janitor and the super certainly didn't speak any English whatsoever, but they spoke of the international language of being totally disgusted at seeing a dead squirrel in an apartment. My landlady, for her part, stood outside of the room, sticking her tongue out, amazed at how disgusting the smell was. The janitor removed the corpse with a plastic bag while the second janitor disinfected the tainted area with the hand soap from my bathroom. Not one hundred percent sure that was the best cleaning material, but it was all I had. He swept up the shed fur into a paper bag and used a sponge I had (hey Mom, look, I owned a sponge!) to mop up the blood stains. The flies dispersed as the janitor then sprayed the area with Orange Scented Air Freshener for about 45 seconds.

A security guard was summoned from the bottom floor to bring another can of spray, as the Orange Scent did little to overpower the Dead Squirrel Scent. This new scent looked to be one of those cans used to get rid of the smell of cigarette smoke; I suppose that Dead Squirrel Odor Removal would be a bit too specialized to manufacture, though, in this case, by the way my landlady was moaning and fake-retching outside of my door, I believe she might have sprung for a can.

After about twenty minutes of sprays, soaps, sponges, and dry heaves, the area was pronounced satisfactorily cleaned, even though the smell still lingered. The closet doors were ordered open until further notice. All of the shirts and slacks that I had hanging in the dresser now smelt of dead squirrel and had to be sent through the wash. For the first night, I considered pooping in the closet just to smell something other than the sickening, sour stench of dead squirrel, which I will maintain smells like sawdust, mixed with the vomit of someone who has just eaten a lot of limes and lemons. A week removed from the incident, and after investing in a lovely potpourri candle set, I am happy to say that my room now no longer smells like the drying innards of decomposed squirrel. It again smells like old towels and my body odor, which is what my rooms generally smell like when a squirrel hasn't decided to crawl under one of my possessions and die there.

2) My student Nim gave me an arm-band tattoo of a rose, one of those that you make wet and then stick on. I can't wait to see the look on her face when I show up with the tattoo applied right across the bridge of my nose and on both cheeks. I also can't wait to get fired from CMU for having an inappropriate face tattoo.

Also I'm gonna be naked.


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