A couple of nights ago I was driving home from work and encountered a one-two punch of smells people often complain about, but I kinda like. First, I drove through a construction zone (81 is a perpetual construction zone, on account of the Mexican-style corruption) and got a snootful of freshly-baked asphalt. Good stuff! And as soon as I regrettably exited that flavorful cloud, I drove headlong into a strong skunk bank. Nice! The good fortune just kept on coming.
I sincerely don’t understand why people complain about the smell of skunk. It’s delightful. I wish they made a Yankee Candle based on the scent. Oh, I’m sure it’s a different situation if you get blasted by an undiluted load of the stuff. But out floating in the open air? It’s quite enjoyable. And people complain and complain about it. I think they believe they’re EXPECTED to complain. Because they’re programmed robots, who repeat predictable phrases like “Well, we could use the rain,” “They grow up so fast,” and “Oh, god: skunk!” Right? Right.
Do you have anything like that? Something that society has decided stinks, but you don’t mind at all? Please tell us about it in the comments. The older boy says gasoline. But I’m not on board that particular train. It just reminds me of how little I know about cars, and how I’m not very handy and probably a disappointment to my father and both dead grandfathers… But that’s a whole different thing. We don’t need to get into that today.
I’d also like to know what pops immediately into your mind when you read the phrase “the worst thing I’ve ever smelled.”
I’m not proud of the memory that phrase conjures for me, because I know I’m going to be judged. But I’m a serious journalist (as we all know) and must proceed, consequences be damned. I was driving with an ex-girlfriend, you see, on Interstate 64 in West Virginia. And for reasons I still don’t know, she suddenly just tipped to one side and released something into the cab of my Luv truck that was so pungent and sodden with rotting cauliflower I nearly vomited. It was unbelievable. I’ve never experienced such an instantaneous and stinging assault on my senses. It was like teargas or pepper spray, or something.
And here’s the controversial part: if it had just been one of my dumbass male friends who brought forth Satan himself via his fevered bunghole, I would have shouted and rolled down the windows, and a splendid time would’ve been had by all. But I wouldn’t remember it 35 years later. No way. So, the fact that it was a girl made it so much worse.
I still don’t understand what happened that night: Brown Wednesday as it’s come to be known. I guess she thought it would be funny and audacious? Well, it was certainly audacious. I’ll give her that much. Holy mackerel. I probably should’ve driven her straight to Charleston Memorial Hospital for a thorough examination. Something was severely out of balance.
Other “worst thing I’ve ever smelled” contenders:
A section of highway between Los Angeles and San Francisco where there’s an abundance of slaughterhouses. The smell would literally make me gag and wretch.
Also, the valley where I grew up was loaded with chemical plants. They were owned and operated by Union Carbide, Monsanto, Dow, Dupont, etc. and the smells those places emitted on a daily basis were often disgusting. Not always, some of it was quite nice, but often. It would also eat the paint off the interstate bridges, but it was nothing to worry about. Everything was perfectly safe. They told us so.
Finally, any kind of male cologne makes me gag. It’s gross. I don’t want to smell a man, thank you very much. I’ll go with skunk any day.
What do you have on these subjects? Anything? Please share in the comments section. And I’m going to work.
I’ll see you guys again on Monday.
Have a great weekend!
Now playing in the bunker
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As the happy parent of a two year old, emptying my daughter’s diaper pail is hands down the most disgusting smell ever. And it just lingers no matter how much lysol is sprayed.
You stole my comment! Poopy diapers are bad but a pee diaper…that’s just stoamach churning gross!
I moved within a 1/2 mile of a landfill and some days I feel like I live in a dumpster. I had no idea that the fucker existed. I must have come to look at the house on a “good day.” Lots of woodland between my house and the dump and the neighborhood hides this fact from prospective buyers really well. It’s all hush hush with the neighbors around here like a perverted uncle at Christmas. And it’s not like you drive past it on the way to my house. It takes literally 15 minutes at 50 mph to get to the dump entrance from my driveway. There was no way to know about it unless you went towards 15 minutes in the “wrong direction.”
That said, I will take skunk over dump any day.
Ozzie Bucco says
I have a pretty strong constitution when it comes to odors. Having grown up with three brothers, farts don’t even register. Like your older hooligan, I love the smell of gasoline.
The worst thing is driving by a poultry farm. We had one on Long Island whose smell could knock a buzzard off a shit wagon. I had a garbage can freeze up during the winter, and the stench was amazing when it thawed. I washed my hands twice to get the smell off me.
Joe T. says
I can’t take vomit. I’d swim in a bathtub of shit rather than clean up vomit.
I can’t stand B.O. And the smell of maggots in the summer. This comes from the garbage cans and hamper that people around me throw loose trash into.
Worst smells: Nursing home, worked in one and the wall of urine and feces would hit you as you walked in the door every morning. Carpet cleaner water after not emptying it for a couple of weeks. Perfume and cologne aisle at a store, the alcohol in those things drive me into a serious coughing jag.
Smells nobody appreciates: Farms, grew up in the country around pig and chicken farms and I love that smell because it reminds me of childhood. Rain on pavement on a hot summer day.
Overrated smells: New car, congrats on purchasing something that just lost money. Leather, nothing like the smell of something’s dead skin. Fresh mowed grass, love the smell of my heart attack waiting to happen.
An executive secretary at the company I retired from was nicknamed “Rhinockwurst.” I’m not sure of the etiology of this name but everyone knew who you were talking about if you mentioned it. You never wanted to share an elevator ride with her. Her Pall Mall-scented halitosis and BO combined with a third smell that made you hold your breath for the entire ride. She was shaped like Godzilla and walked with that same back-forth bustle (tail) swing. She also had that “screw you” attitude that some folks get when they work for a bigshot. Charming.
A blaff of cigar or diesel smoke has an oddly fetching odor, like the skunk smell. In higher concentrations, these smells are really wretched.
Like Zach mentioned…baby diapers! When I empty the diaper pail, the stench is horrible. It’s actually the pee diapers that smell the worst.
The worst things I’ve smelled all come from the hospital.
Festering wounds have a garbage-y smell, and melena, which comes from bleeding in your colon, has a smell unlike any other. The worst smell though has to be end stage cervical cancer. I can remember it spread through an entire ICU and down the hall. Terrible.
I like asphalt and gasoline, don’t care for skunk. I also like puppy (not dog) breath, wood fires but not house fires, fireworks, and lilac bushes.
The first thought that came to mind was the smell of the pulp mills in Tacoma. It has nothing to do with a clean wood smell; it is just so foul. I only think of that now as a “former worst smell”.
The genuine worst smell in my entire life was my first husband and his home. Not because he was such a foul beast, which he certainly was but that had an aroma all its own. He enjoyed a fine reputation and was quite respected but he was a hoarder and ultimately became as bad as anything you’d ever see on television. He lived with 5 large dogs who apparently were never taken out nor cleaned up after and ultimately so many rats that the whole inside of the place seemed to have a life and movement of it’s own. You could smell the stench before you got to the front steps and going inside meant that you had to go directly home, immediately take a shower and do a load of laundry. Surprisingly the worst smell wasn’t going into the home: that was so overwhelming that it’s indescribable but your whole nose snd sensory system seemed to shut down from being overwhelmed. The worst was when he emerged from the place, having been thoroughly marinated and stewed in all that, wearing his leather motorcycle jacket and wanting a hug. Unless you really had a grip on yourself vomit would come up from such depths that it would be colon cleansing. It has bern a couple of decades since I’ve experienced that but the smell still seems to be in my nostrils.
And you actually married this guy?
This was not who he was when we first met in the Army. He didn’t just become that in one day. It started with acquiring stuff. Never could get enough stuff nor let go of anything. For example, he used to stop on the road to pick up snubbers (those thick black rubber straps with hooks on both ends). He would pick them up even if they were broken or had one end missing. The last time I knew he had two 55 gallon drum’s full of them. And that’s just one item of “roadkill“ that he would stop for.
It was a monster that grew with time. It was years after our divorce before it developed the smell. I still don’t know how it could’ve been stopped.
JR in FallCity says
why would you marry into that?
I love the smell of gasoline, asphalt, acetone, nail polish, spray paint – basically anything that will damage my brain. Skunk is one of my absolute favorite smells.
Twenty years ago I was sleeping in the back of my parents’ car while my dad drove us through Iowa on the way to South Dakota. The stench of a slaughterhouse and stockyards about 10 miles off the interstate woke me up from a deep slumber, and I almost barfed in the car. The smell stayed in my nose for hours afterward, and little bits of it resurfaced here and there over the next couple of days. I hope to Christ I don’t ever smell anything worse than that.
Gotta agree with the oldest Secret. Gasoline is a superior smell. Kerosene is a close second. Then again, I like the smell of an undouched vagina.
Don’t like cat urine. Don’t like burnt hair. Don’t like burning toast.
Italian food gives me a hard-on. Hard boiled eggs give me the hanging Willies.
I’m glad you asked.
As the years click by on the odometer, one hopes to keep up, but sometimes sags behind. I now have newfound optimism, and hope to be the subject of the newspaper headline, “Tacoma Man Achieves Weiner Engorgement Through Chicken Parmesan”. Thanks, White Guy. Godspeed.
I don’t know if chicken parmesan would be sufficient. I might have to go with a full-on osso buco.
Lew in Bama says
Poopie diapers can make you gag, my husband likens them to hot garbage.
Peepee diapers after a 10 hour sleep can knock you down.
Vomit is the worst, it’s a somewhat acidic sweet smell. Every time I smell it, I’m transported back to kindergarten, and the image of that kitty litter looking stuff teachers would pour on the floor when someone threw-up on the carpet.
Popcorn, and especially burnt popcorn, makes me nauseous.
Skunk is bad, especially when you run over one and it’s stuck in the undercarriage of your car for a few miles. Took weeks to air that out.
I love the smell of fresh cut grass.
There are chicken houses all over the place in North Alabama, you get used to that after some time.
Cigarette smoke…disgusting! And the smell of cigarettes on people’s clothes or their breath. Yuck!
Cigarette smoke smells to me like black and white movies with a black guy playing piano jazz in front of a stand-up bass and traps; smells like men wearing fedoras and women decked out in low-cut night club gowns and minks on Broadway and in Harlem awaiting news of the boys fighting on Guadalcanal and throughout the eastern Solomons; smells like Saturday night.
Nice imagery, John.
Asphalt and gasoline are good smells. A couple of times a month I go near a pig abattoir, sometimes there’s no smell, but other times… it just reeks of burnt hair and death. That’s a horrible smell.
The stink on I-5 between LA and SF is the assembly points and feedlots where the cattle get trucked off from IIRC.
Bourbon Street in New Orleans smells like piss, stale beer and rotting shellfish. I love that smell. When I smell it elsewhere it brings me right back to The Absinthe House.
We should probably add the wonderful smell of the terrific food that wafts from restaurants throughout the Vieux Carré and the sounds of some fine old time jazz, even if it’s just for the tourists. I have spent time in just about every major city in the United States over the last fifty years or so, and I believe New Orleans (and the French Quarter in particular) is the only city in the country where you could be transported, waking up on a street corner, and know what city you’re in. Boston, Chicago, Houston, San Jose, Denver . . . all have different climates, but the “downtowns” all look and smell pretty much the same. You wake up in the Vieux Carré, and the architecture, dialect, music, and tantalizing food smells, tell you exactly where you are.
Manhattan and San Francisco are reasonably close seconds: the City for its persistent sewer smell, and San Fran for the foghorns and novel sidehill architecture.
I visited for extended stays several times in the 80s and 90s, but haven’t been there since Katrina. I suppose it’s lost some of its charm. With all the crime, shit weather, police corruption, drunk tourists, and continual threat of flooding, I’d move there, at least for a year or so, given the slightest provocation.
The out-gassing of an oil refinery is a special smell (East Toledo, Navarre Ave). Absolute winner is turkey farms I always expect to see the wavy smell lines to appear. I like the smell of gas drying alfalfa or roasting malt fermenting outside of a brewery.
Hubsters gas at 3am will wake me out of a sound sleep. I’ve been tempted to fart in his snore machine and watch his reaction.
By the time daughter got out of diapers I was wishing for a 50 gallon drum attachment for the diaper genie.
The first thing that popped into my mind was the Indian guy sitting in front of me and daughter on a flight to Dallas. Fuck an A that guy stunk, curry, sweat, dirty clothes or a combo. We literally flew with our shirts pulled over our noses.
PS: Horse shit smells really good at a distance.
Following NYC and New Jersey garbage trucks through Pennsylvania’s winding impassible roadways on a hot summer day. Following a hog or chicken truck on the South’s impassible back roads. The paper mill, about 10 miles away, that shares its aroma on a windy day. Kimchi. Dog crap on the sole of your shoe. Limburger cheese. A local factory burning off copper parts in the middle of the night. Skunk cabbage, actually worse than a skunk. The hind quarter of a deer that was forgotten and didn’t get processed, and was left in an unplugged refrigerator for about six months. Yep, all those things stink.
I grew up as a young adult in N.J. spending an inordinate amount of time in bars where the cigarette smoke hung in the air like L.A. smog. It never really bothered me unless some idiot decided to hold their smoke off to the side, right in my face. However, the minute they outlawed smoking in bars, I realized how awful it really was. All of a sudden I could go home without my clothes smelling like an ashtray, and when I woke up in the morning my hair and face didn’t reek of tar and nicotine. This has just made me really detest the smell of those things way more than ever.
Worked for a funeral home 1981 to 1987. Dead guy laid for about one week in a mobile home in July with no AC, had about 5 gallons of maggots inside of him. Even the coroner and the cops all took turns puking.
I like the smell of someone smoking a pipe, because it reminds me of my grandfather. Cigarettes too, because the smell reminds me of Grandma and my other grandfather and my mom. Cigars don’t bother me much, as long as they’re not too nearby and are unflavored.
Bad smells: cat diarrhea; rotting meat; raw sewage; home permanent. I hear durian is pretty bad too, but I’ve never had the pleasure.
Can you imagine folks smoking on an airplane? They used to give 3 packs of smokes with dessert…this was when 9 out of 10 MDs recommended Camels.
I’m not that old (I’m 45) and I’ve smoked on airplanes. SMH. I’ll bet you can still smoke on some Asian airlines.
Old flowers and the water they’re in. Smells like a decaying corpse.
Sometimes popcorn smells delicious. Other times it can make me gag. Same with steamed broccoli. Sometimes a delightful vegetable, other times a bucket of farts.
Son of Sam says
I love the smell of. Napalm in the morning.
Dr. Buford says
Are you sure you weren’t just passing through Nitro?
The two worst things I’ve ever smelled are tied for first (worst?) place:
1) somewhere in rural Ohio getting a triple blast of pig shit, chicken shit, and rotting carcasses all at once. I barfed inside my helmet enough that I almost crashed. I can laugh about it now.
2) Atlanta airport, 2013 or so. I’d spent the weekend with my little brother and his wife and was suffering with a little food/booze poisoning. The gate was packed except for one row with a Rasta-looking white guy with dreads, a big Rasta hat, and a MacBook Pro in his lap. I plopped down a seat away and before I could say “Hi!” I was brutalized by an intense mixture of weed, BO, and ass.
I’ve camped a lot. I’ve gone to a lot of music festivals of the type where people think they don’t have to shower or wipe their ass because they don’t eat meat. This was far, far worse.
Rather than try to make it to the nearest trashcan I just puked onto the seat between us, wiped my chin, and walked away. Thank Christ he wasn’t near me on the flight. I’m still not over it.
P.S. I didn’t hear this one until 20 years after leaving WV but it’s still great.
Two young lovers were making out behind the Fas-Chek and she whispers to him, “kiss me where it stinks.”
So he started the truck and drove her to Nitro.
Many years ago a freezer out on the back patio up and died. Packed inside were various meats. One day I go out to get a pack of pork chops, or something, and when I opened that freezer door… well, it was, and may still be, the worse smell I have ever encountered. Indescribable. Triple bagged all that bloody rotten meat, gagging the whole time, thew it in the trunk of my camaro and hauled it up to the dumpster behind the Winn Dixie. I have no doubt that had a cop pulled me over he would have thought I had a dead body in the trunk…even days later. I thought the stink would never go away.
Chemically “fresh” smelling laundry detergents and Glade air fresheners are are real turn off for me. The worse one of all though is Fabreeze! I have a co-worker that must spray that crap on herself daily instead of just taking a damn shower! She’s a hugger too and that stuff transfers.
Baby and toddler diapers are pretty bad, but adult diapers are far worse. Especially if there is a serious illness involved.
I like the smell of freshly laid asphalt, freshly cut grass, rain anywhere, anytime. I actually like the smell of Kimchi. Go figure.
Terre Haute, Indiana
Beer Richards says
This was a masterpiece. Laughed my bunghole off all throughout & I needed that. And I’m very sick but screw off for pity. Just needs to be made known the appreciation of the writing & it made me feel better. Also some comments. Thank you.
Worst smell. Pussy of ex with yeast infection but I was young & desperate. It was worse than a college binge of fucking & trying to not puke up everclear & Mickey’s.
Bad smell I like. Own poop only fresh off the boat. You think your shit doesn’t stink too assholes.
The Qweezy Mark says
The old leaded gasoline and the insides of tires. Asphalt is pretty good, too.
Mike the ripper says
Skunk and the smell of a Starbuck’s have a lot of the same nasal notes….
. . . and ingredients. jtb
Billings Montana. Was driving through and needed to stop for gas. It was 1am and I just kept driving with an empty tank. Preferred to be stuck on the road further down, than staying there any longer. wow, that was bad. Ended up stopping for gas a few exits down. I found a gas station that looked like made out of cardboard. Luckily it accepted by credit card and allowed me to fill up.
Lucie in Tampa says
top 2 things that smell bad!
Griffin Industries: Griffin Industries collects and recycles billions of pounds of agricultural waste annually. Meat and poultry by-products, grocery scraps, restaurant grease, and waste from the bakery industry is reclaimed and recycled into usable, everyday products
Big Sugar (U.S. Sugar): I used to live down by a processing plant in South Florida & the smell is HORRIBLE!
2 “bad” smells I like… lol my own farts (most of the time) … & I like the smell of the black markers my Dad used to use in his art studio.