Lobster: A Cautionary Tale
Something awful happened this morning.
Last week, I had some friends over and we had lobsters. It was great. I double-bagged the shells and popped them in the trash. Our trash day is Wednesday, and the double-bagging would contain the smell until then.
Except then, Tuesday morning, I was driving to Boston for a short work trip and around Portsmouth I realized I had forgotten to put the trash out.
I’m going to quote now from the City of Portland - Department of Public Services trash collection webpage (which I referenced once I got to Boston):
I’m going to miss a trash day, is there an alternative drop off spot?
Unfortunately there is no alternative if you miss your trash day. Please wait until your next pick up day. In addition, fuck you.
The fuck you is implied.
So this is all not awesome, but I can be a trooper. I get home Thursday and it’s not terrible. It’s also not terrible Friday. It’s not great Saturday, so Dave decides to take out the trash bag, enclose it in another bag, and put it in the basement until trash day. This seems reasonable, but I suggest he complete the operation not in our kitchen, because we have to cook in there.
It’s not great, but Dave survives and leaves the trash bag on the landing while he goes to take a shower. And then he gets to take the trash down to the basement and it appears that a lobster claw has broken free of BOTH BAGS and the bag is now slumped and leaking week-old lobster juice into the landing carpet.
I’m going to pause here for a moment. I went to a school with a strong writing program, and my concentration was in poetry writing (this is why the blog is so evocative, heh). So I have a fair amount of training in describing stuff, right? And yet, it is very hard to describe the intensity and awfulness of week old lobster juice. It is weapon-like. You’re in it, and it’s all around you, and it’s horrible, and you’re getting all confused and searching for your keys and oh my god where are they how do I get them in the lock help me help me help me. Lobster smells pretty strongly anyway, but this is like the horrible nightmare version of it. It’s the version with scary clowns. We went to the fish market this afternoon and the smell was like that, but more and horribly worse. When I was little, my dad would occasionally rope me into going to the dump with him. The dump near us was a superfund site. There were armies of seagulls and walls of trash and flies everywhere. Week old lobster juice is like that. But like the whole fucking superfund site condensed into a pint or so of liquid.
We opened windows. We sprinkled baking soda, then vacuumed the baking soda. We set up fans, and rinsed and sprayed and finally used a baking soda potpourri mixture and then vacuumed. The smell seeped up into my office THROUGH THE FLOOR. The end result, the potpourri-and-lobster, is still horrible. We went out for an errand, and could smell it ACROSS THE STREET. I think I’m having olfactory hallucinations.
Dave thinks I’m overreacting, but I am not. If it’s not better by tomorrow, I’m going to have to go rent a carpet steam cleaner. We may have to consider doing a controlled burn.
I can only hope my neighbors are on vacation. I think they might be. I’m afraid to knock on their door to apologize, though, because it means that it would allow all the hallway smell unfettered access into their apartments. What kind of present do you get for a neighbor after you’ve done something like this?
Do not let this happen to you.
Photo by Anna.