Tuesday, October 26, 2004

One Billion Chinese People Don't Care

Yesterday was a pretty okay day as far as Mondays go, except for the smell. In the morning it was kind of intriguing as we tried to identify it, but by early afternoon I was sick of it and had a bit of a headache that I am sure was smell-related. It's getting a bit chilly outside these days, so the furnace is on, and yesterday it was blowing a peculiar smell from upstairs down into our living quarters. It smelled "off" to me, and the closest I could come to naming it was maybe tuna or salmon-ish, but that's pure speculation. Anyone who has ever lived in an apartment building knows what I am talking about. You can go weeks, or even months if you're lucky, living in your own little world but eventually the reality that you have neighbours will go Blammo! in your face.

When we lived on Laurier Ave in lovely Ottawa, we never really "met" our neighbours. When we were coming and going, they were not, and after a couple of weeks of this, we thought it was definitely odd. The only time we ever happened upon another living soul in that building was during the ferret incident in the laundry room, and I still can't talk about that without hyperventilating.

But we could definitely smell our neighbours that lived behind us, and we could hear the neighbours that lived beside us. The ones beside us were drug dealers. People knocked on their door, oh maybe 25-30 times a day, at all hours of the day and night. Thank goodness the walls weren't paper thin; the only noise problem came from their TV, because when it came to watching sports, apparently it had to be LOUD. And sadly, whatever cable they had was not the cable that we had (at the time, a Rogers digital box) because I remember during the Stanley Cup that year, we would always be cheering a full 2 seconds before they reacted. When we realized that we were seeing it first, we tried to keep it down so as not to ruin it for them. Among their many, many customers was the guy who lived behind us. We would often hear him dart across the hallway for a quick "visit" and always, every single day, there was a smell that emanated from his apartment and seemed to come through our front closet into our place. It smelled of pot constantly. Luckily I also kept my laundry detergent in that closet, so I think that smell balanced things out, and to the best of my knowledge we didn't walk around with coats and scarves that stank.

Then when we moved to Cummings Ave, things were different, I guess because it was more town-house style than apartment building. It wasn't so much a smell problem as a slight noise problem, though only at night. I had 2 major complaints:

1. At night, I could hear the old man next to us snoring.
2. I could also hear their bird chirping away like crazy, which he only did at night.

But I could live with that. So of course we had to have another kind of Blammo! moment, and that came in form of a flood. The people next to us did something silly in their apartment, and before we knew it, the water seeped through the connecting wall and was rushing into ours. Luckily the damage was mostly downstairs, contained to a much smaller space, but that's where we stored things, so we had to spend the day running up and down the stairs with boxes of Christmas ornaments, camping gear, and wedding supplies. It's exhausting work when it's not even your fault.

Now we're here on Gardner Ave, Cornwall (our third avenue in a row!), and we know we have it pretty good. We do absolutely hear Pa snoring every night, and it's damn loud, but the thing is, even if we were living across town, we'd still probably hear it. But the good news is, it drowns out most of Jason's snoring. And up until yesterday, we never had a smell issue. I suppose it's true that it doesn't become an issue until it's a smell you don't like, and since I grew up on Nanny's cuisine I'm probably pretty familiar with most of the smells. I am just not on board with the fishy smell. Some people will point blank tell you "you're eating tuna, that's gross" but I'm not one of them. I don't personally like that stuff, but I accept that plenty of people do. I happen to be a big fan of a lot of "gross" things myself, as Jason will tell you: brussel sprouts, eggplant, asparagus, cauliflower, spinach, and yes, turnip. When I cook turnip it makes my mouth-water, but apparently it has a pretty pervasive smell so that when Jason pulls in the driveway, he is tempted to pull back out and not stop till he hits Burger King. So what's smelly to him is not to me, and I guess that's probably true for a lot of people. There won't be much of a turnip problem anymore, though, because if you have never cooked it, let me tell you: it's hard. I mean literally hard. I had to bear all my weight down on my biggest knife just to cut through it, and it took me forever to slice the thing. And then after boiling it, it had really become quite the ordeal, and finally, I managed to burn myself on the steam, which left a blister on my wrist for like 3 weeks. Now Jason is hoping that brussel sprouts will be the next to inflict pain on me, because he neither likes the smell, nor the taste of them.

It makes me sad that the smell of my favourite veggies is as annoying to Jason as the smell of my friend Reshma was to me when she came home from working at Curry in a Hurry. I've never really been a curry kind of girl, and now I know I never could be. Sometimes you just have an experience that puts you off of something forever. For example, when I was 8 or 9, I first came into contact with an egg-salad sandwich at my Nanny's house. My mother abhors mayo (even the mere thought of it), so we were never exposed to _______-salad sandwiches as children. But I thought the egg-salad was just great and I asked to bring one for school the next day. Well, I bet you all know where this is going by now. My mother was very brave to make it for me, but egg-salad just does not do well in this circumstance because by the time lunch rolled around, it smelled. Bad. I didn't eat it, I threw it out and stayed away from sandwiches for at least 10 years, until just recently, when I re-discovered baloney (more on this in another episode).

Anyhoo, the smell is officially gone today. And I may never even know what it was. It's not like you can ask your neighbours "Hey, what are you eating that smells so goddamn bad?". I'm pretty sure that would be rude. So I'm off to pack a suitcase for Jason now, because it's that time of the year when Nanny makes up a bunch of batches of cabbage soup to freeze for the winter, which means I won't see Jason for maybe 4-5 days. Even people who like cabbage admit that the smell is a little over-powering. And Jason does not like cabbage. Jason is very sensitive to smells. He goes through at least one bottle of Febreze per week. I think one of the main reasons why he is so sensitive is that his mother never cooked much when he was a kid, so he doesn't know what most food smells like. He can determine whether you've got Chef Boyarde mini-raviolis or over-stuffed raviolis cooking in the microwave, but everything else is unfamiliar territory for him. He does like the smell of most food though, which is good because I cook often with my crockpot, which means the delicious smell of your meal cooking all day long. But when Jason comes home from work he says "Yay! Crockpot for supper!" and it doesn't matter if there's jumbalaya or lasagna in there, it's all the same to him, just the smell of "crockpot". As much as he always praises my cooking, I still think he'd be just as happy eating those microwave Hungry Man dinners. As long as there is 2 pounds of food there, he'd be happy. And to that I cannot help but say: gross.

1 comment:

trinity said...

Your blog is great! It's hard to find blogs with good content and people talking about snoring these days! I have a secret snoring exposed if you want to come check it out