Nothing delights me more than finding out somebody has a problem. Not because I'm cruel, and find joy in the misfortune of others. Ahem! What kind of person do you take me for? Besides one who also delights in using propositions to end sentences with.
I use the lemons of others to make my own lemonade! Take, for instance, Tammy's problem. She used her car to decompose some meat. No common compost heap for Tammy! She thinks outside the box. I wouldn't be surprised if she came up with a coffee table book about coffee tables. But I'm sure that's on the back burner while she tries to de-smellify her car. If she's looking for a scent to mask the dead beef odor, I suggest The Beach. Not the East River. The Beach.
Since I am really no help in solving Tammy's problem, I skedaddled to the kitchen for my lemonade juicer. No use letting a crisis go to waste. I can use this incident to enlighten you all on my own brush with an unpleasant odor of my own negligence. Thanks, Tammy, for the virtual piggyback ride upon your coattails.
In my misspent youth, I rented a house in Cuba, Missouri. That in itself is probably the biggest clue as to what is to come. Small towns are not known for their high-end rental property. Because I had just signed a teaching contract to the tune of $11,800 per year, I was in the market for an economical abode. Don't go thinking this was back in the days when gas was twenty cents a gallon and the Texaco man came out and pumped it while squeegeeing your windshield and checking the oil. No, this was smack dab in the middle of the Reagan years. I was not exactly a Rockefeller.
The price of my new rental cottage escapes me. But I know that it had four rooms. The kitchen was as big as the living room. I had a bedroom where I could hear the squirrels in the attic. And the bathroom was made from a little porch off the back of the house that slanted at a thirty-degree angle. But I was independent, baby! I had a front yard and a back yard. A driveway. I was the queen of my castle.
Every couple of weekends, I made it back to Backroads. My mother and my grandma made sure I returned with a bounty of foodstuffs to tide me over. Other weekends, I hit the road to visit friends in Springfield or Kansas City. My job kept me hoppin', because I was also a coach. So I didn't actually spend much time in my party palace, other than to lay my head at night.
Soon after I moved in, just as the school year and the volleyball season had gotten underway, which is mid-August in rural Missouri, my grandma gifted me with a cardboard flat of tomatoes from her garden. I love fresh tomatoes! Sliced with a sprinkling of salt, stuffed with some tuna fresh from the can, as a side for a fried pork chop, or on a hamburger with a slice of pickle...I was not about to let my tomato stash go to waste.
I did not have a kitchen table, because up to this point, I had been renting apartments, and the last one I lived in was furnished. So I saw no problem with eating my meals with plate perched on the arm of the couch while watching TV. My little kitchen had an old gas stove, a really old refrigerator with a pull-down latch kind of door handle, and an itty bitty countertop beside the sink that overlooked the grassless back yard. My flat of tomatoes had no place to call their own. You can't put fresh tomatoes in the fridge. Then they taste like storebought tomatoes. The counter was previously occupied by my dish drainer. Surely you didn't think I had a two-compartment sink! It was an old, old sink, probably old enough to be called a zinc. And even I knew better than to put my cardboard flat on top of the gas-burnered stove. Those things have pilot lights, you know.
My tomatoes had to reside on the floor of the kitchen. A floor that was carpeted in an unbecoming brown and tan pattern, with a splash of burnt orange. I would never have chosen carpeting for a kitchen floor, but then again, I would never have built a bathroom at a thirty-degree angle. Renters can't be choosers.
Off I went for the weekend, leaving my tomatoes to hold down the fort. Did you know that when tomatoes spoil, they liquify? And that the liquid seeps through cardboard, and through carpet, and insinuates itself into carpet padding and ancient wood? It does! And it has an odor all its own. Which takes many weeks to dissipate, no matter how often you wash your kitchen carpet with dishwashing liquid.
But it's not as bad as rotted meat.