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  • Ken Ilgunas

Unidentifiable smell: identified. Or is it?

I’ve had the van for nearly a year. Last week, I gave it my first deep-cleaning.

I have several justifiable reasons for putting off the task for so long. Firstly, I’m lazy. Secondly, I never had access to a vacuum or the luxury of publicly removing all my items—necessary, of course, for any thorough cleaning. And lastly, I was worried about what I might find.

I visited my friend Chris at his home in Charlotte, N.C., where I decided to give the van a good scrub down.

In the back corner above the driver-side tire beneath a stack of old homework assignments I found a pile of…… something. What that “something” was…. Well… Let’s just say it’s still a mystery.

The van has a number of smells, almost all of which are unidentifiable. As mentioned before, this was never a real issue considering my anosmia—a fancy word for my laughably pitiful sense of smell.

Regardless of whether the odors bothered me or not, I thought it would still be nice to know the cause behind the olfactory overload potent enough to send men with more sensitive nasal cavities swooning the same way flashy Japanese anime causes seizures in the optically-vulnerable.

Never did I think I’d actually discover one of the sources.

And there it was. A pile of round pellets—miniature moose poop; each pebble coated with fuzzy lime-green mold. My first thought was: What small mammal took a dump in my van? My second thought: Is it still here?

After scouring the van for other mini mountain ranges (and finding none), I decided that I was still the only vandweller on campus.

It wasn’t more than a handful, but it was enough to make me look away in disgust in order to give me time to reason with my gag reflex. Soon, I imagined that the little shells would start vibrating before little abominable Mesozoic creatures began poking their heads through. Perhaps I’ve found in the squalidity of vandwelling—in the unique blending of dirty laundry, unwashed pans, and a bachelor in such tight quarters—just the right ingredients to originate life like the microbial soup that our single-celled ancestors slithered out of.

After a not-so-thorough inspection, I decided they were M&Ms. To be honest, I can’t remember the last time I had M&Ms. Nor do I remember having M&Ms in the van. In fact, I don’t even really like M&Ms. But—given the list of alternative explanations, to which I refuse to give a second thought for the sake of sanity—they were M&Ms. Case closed.


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