Name that Smell

18 Sep

So earlier this week, a dear friend entrusted me with the task of taking a nationally-known speaker, author and all-around genius out to lunch, and then on to the airport after a workshop he was conducting in town. I was delighted, of course, and when I have processed what I learned, I will write something about that.

Because, wow. 

But of course, the afternoon BEFORE I was to ferry him around town, after my car had been sitting in the driveway all day, I headed off to pick my daughter up from drama callbacks at school.

And when I opened the door to the car, I died. This story is being written from beyond the grave.

Seriously, the smell in the car was overwhelming. It was as if an army of enraged monkeys had entered it in the night and had a poo-flinging war of epic proportions. And then after they left, a herd of curious hyenas had entered, and decided to mark their territory in a pissing contest.

Even my son, whose personal hygiene standards are so low as to render his room a superfund cleanup site, entered the car and gagged out the inquiry “Ugh, what is that smell???”

So of course, both children were enlisted to look under every seat and crevice and find the source of that odor. It was found and removed.

I sprinkled an entire box of baking soda over the surfaces of the car, then took it to the car wash the next morning to vacuum it out and have a priest perform an exorcism over the remaining ghost of the smell. After that, I sprayed so much citrus air freshener in the car that it smelled like an orange grove. Then, I went into the workshop and prayed that the heat of the morning would not resurrect the smell like some rotting zombie trying to claim another victim.

Fortunately, the smell did not return. Although, when we got to the car, it did smell like a scratch-and-sniff ad for Minute Maid. So because I have NO INTERNAL FILTER, I apologized to the prominent author and speaker and told him the whole story.

And he listened politely, and then told me, hand to God here, that he has no sense of smell.

But you do, right? So do your best imagining and take a shot at solving the mystery. WHAT did we find in the back of the car that was causing this olfactory assault? Go on, leave your guess.

If you guess correctly, I will wrap it up very carefully and mail it to you. Or you can just have the personal satisfaction of being right. Your call.

34 Responses to “Name that Smell”

  1. Elle September 18, 2009 at 3:53 pm #

    This wouldn’t be funny if it happened to anyone else!


    Apple core
    Banana Peel
    Old Sock
    Really old shoe

  2. Bea September 18, 2009 at 4:02 pm #

    A friend had a package of hamburger slip from her shopping and slide between the back seats of her van…in the 100+ degree summer days. Her kids always loaded up in the car first, and the first day, she blamed her preteen son for passing gas. Finally, it dawned on her that the smell was lingering, and getting worse, and she investigated. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

  3. Doug September 18, 2009 at 4:02 pm #


  4. Lettie September 18, 2009 at 4:10 pm #

    Durian fruit … forgotten and now seeking to avenge itself

  5. Vicki September 18, 2009 at 4:11 pm #

    Expired rodent?

  6. lettergirl September 18, 2009 at 4:15 pm #

    Doug, you are totally right. Look for him in the mail.
    Just kidding, all. Continue your guesses.

  7. Caleb September 18, 2009 at 4:18 pm #

    Somebody left their Indian food leftovers in the right backseat foot-well area and it slid under the seat, left to be forgotten for 15 minutes before rendering itself a biohazard?

    If that’s the case email me for a physical addy. I’ll reimburse you for postage.

  8. Jack Bauer September 18, 2009 at 4:33 pm #

    A dead terrorist named Achmed?

  9. feefifoto September 18, 2009 at 4:43 pm #

    I hate hate HATE that lack of internal filter thing. Thanks to it, I have a superheroic ability to ensure, without a doubt, that I humiliate myself regularly.

  10. queenofhaddock September 18, 2009 at 5:11 pm #

    I don’t remember who it was, but some blogger had a smelly problem. It was a dead rat. They cleared out the dead rat, but couldn’t get rid of the smell. So they took apart every single thing on the car and found UNDER the carpet a bunch of dead little baby rats. And they posted pictures.

    Please tell me it’s not rats and PLEASE don’t post pictures if it is! I’ve had hidden rat-infested nightmares since…

  11. lettergirl September 18, 2009 at 5:13 pm #

    Bridget!!! I REMEMBER that post!!! I think Tanis?

  12. lettergirl September 18, 2009 at 5:15 pm #

    Wait, no, that was Y at Joy Unexpected.

  13. Claire September 18, 2009 at 7:01 pm #

    Did Commando boy leave his undies somewhere? or socks?

  14. Molli September 18, 2009 at 7:10 pm #

    Could it have been an old potato that fell out of your grocery bag? I know rotten ones smell horrid. Maybe a rotting onion??

  15. Beth September 18, 2009 at 7:25 pm #

    I’ve got it! A moldy old banana peel??? We had one of those that just about drove us out to buy a new minivan.

  16. judymom September 18, 2009 at 7:38 pm #

    boogers coupled with omigosh phlegm?

  17. Juani September 18, 2009 at 7:49 pm #

    partially eaten tuna sandwich? lol

  18. Jennifer September 18, 2009 at 8:17 pm #

    One of those milk chugs from a McDonald’s happy meal.
    I don’t even want to begin to explain how I know about those causing a terrible odor in a vehicle…

  19. jennifer September 18, 2009 at 8:19 pm #

    not achmed the dead terrorist, but one of Walter’s farts.

  20. Deb Wilson September 18, 2009 at 10:13 pm #

    Left over breakfast taco? Eggs are the absolute worst!

  21. Ed Harvey September 18, 2009 at 11:52 pm #

    monkey poop floating in a taco bell cup filled with of hyena piss?

  22. Elizabeth September 19, 2009 at 4:42 am #

    Did someone already guess a wet towel?
    That or a sneaker with or without dogpoop on it

  23. ingrid September 19, 2009 at 6:53 am #

    EW, I don’t even want to know. I’m constantly getting into a car that quickly turns into a stinkmobile. Try driving around with a couple of boys that have just been playing baseball for 6 or more hours in the 90+ degrees. It’s bad, very bad.

  24. Denise September 19, 2009 at 9:28 am #

    Hahaha, too funny!

  25. CatB September 19, 2009 at 3:55 pm #

    I’ve recently had 2 bouts of Unknown Bad Odor, as opposed to Large Teen Male whom we have renamed Slimey Wet Goat Boy due to his pong after 2 hour football practices.

    The most recent Odor was caused by a partially eaten McDonald’s burger said Goat Boy had pushed into a bag and kicked under the seat mid-summer. That took a couple weeks to find. The worst one this summer, though, was when Boy and his Farmer Father (who shoes horses for a living and has compromised olofactory nerves due to the stench of what horses pack into their feet to rot in the 6-10 weeks between shoeings). They had gone fishing with my car and had forgotten a tub of leeches and minnows under the front seat. That took a few days after cleaning to clear the air. The scar is still there on my mood, though!


    My vote is the burger. . .

  26. RJ Flamingo September 19, 2009 at 10:07 pm #

    Looks like all the good guesses are taken, so I’m thinking a kid’s forgotten science project.

  27. Foodycat September 20, 2009 at 7:42 am #

    I once had to sell a car after I spilt a carton of takeaway tom yum goong in it. The smell of old prawns in the Queensland sun…

    Sewing fishheads into the curtains is also a good way to get revenge on ex-housemates.

    So my guess is prawns.

  28. lettergirl September 23, 2009 at 8:42 am #

    We still do not have a winner. But oh, the guesses! Of fish heads and raw meat and dead terrorists and missing husbands. Some of you are sick people.

  29. jdirt September 23, 2009 at 8:56 am #

    Fish Sauce? (Nuoc Mam). I can’t think of anything worse. Other than a diaper full of shrimp.

  30. juiceandbenny September 23, 2009 at 9:02 am #

    I once left an apple in the glove box…….you know, cause you never know when you might need a snack….
    anyhoo, a mere 24 hours later, the kids were complaining about the smell of *banana* in the car! (?)
    Decaying fruit can create some wonderful aromas, but, alas, not entirely offensive.

    There’s only one thing that produces a really bad smell if left unattended, and that’s MEAT.

    I’m thinking the offending substance was sausage? hotdog? salami?

  31. Julie G September 23, 2009 at 9:14 am #

    One time my little brother left a half eaten (and possibly already spoiled) yogurt in the car on a hot afternoon. It was only in there for a few hours and the smell of dirty feet was so pungent we had to drive home with the windows down. It lingered for days … so I’m guessing yogurt.

  32. denisequintana September 23, 2009 at 9:29 am #

    My three teenage sons have the job of unloading the (many, many, many) bags of groceries that I bring home every (single) day. Occasionally (often), they leave an item or two in the car, buried beneath the junk I am forced to cart around in the cargo area of my SUV. Here is a short list of the most pungent items that have been found: raw chicken, gallon of milk (discovered 1 week later, hidden under surfboards, after the jug exploded), rotten raw potatoes, a half-eaten summer sausage, cup of worms left over from fishing trip.

  33. Jana September 23, 2009 at 12:01 pm #

    I was going to guess milk, but that’s obviously not it.

    How about rotten eggs….that’s my final answer.


  1. We have a winner! « Not Going Postal - September 23, 2009

    […] asked for your guesses in my post about the smell, and my gosh, you people like a good guessing game. I write about deep spiritual struggles, and […]

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