A Door Unopened

A Door Unopened
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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

That Smell

Ooh, ooh that smell
Can't you smell that smell?
Ooh, ooh that smell
The smell of death surrounds you.
—Lynyrd Skynyrd

I lived and breathed that smell at the concert I attended at the Mountain Winery in Saratoga on Saturday. No, we didn't see Lynyrd Skynyrd and I’m happy to report, no one died—at least not to my knowledge. But the smell was bad enough to make you think that someone or something HAD died.  Not so, however. We knew from whence the smell emanated.  The Source appeared to be very much alive although, perhaps not well.

Meet Grace Potter and the Nocturnals and Grace's legs.

The music—Grace Potter and the Nocturnals (GPN)—was terrific. Grace is a generous performer who puts on an energetic show. She jumps and abounds—amazes and astounds, leaving the middle-agers in the crowd wondering how the hell she does it. While I resentfully (and likely erroneously) propose that she was diagnosed as ADHD as a child, there is no doubt in my mind that Grace is a woman who LOVES her job. With a killer, rock and roll voice that puts her in the brawny vocal category of Ann Wilson (Heart), and Joan Jett (and the Blackhearts), Grace gives legs to the raucous sound of the Nocturnals. She’s a tower of long limbs in high heels and short skirts. Add to that a long, sandy, blonde waterfall of hair which she flings with wild-woman abandon and you’ve got a sexy, siren with lungs that stun. 

At one point during the show the woman sitting next to me leaned over and whispered, “My husband wishes I were her. I wish I were her too.” Yeah. I feel ya, sister.

OK. So back to the smell. I sensed trouble when I first sat down. A dude about a chair and a half wide was squeezed into the seat front of me and I could distinctly detect his odor. The aroma of barely contained sweat and hair overdue for a shampoo reached my olfactory bulb as soon as my fanny hit the fold-down. Before I had any idea what was in store, I leaned over to the Huzby to report, “I can smell him.” 

Talk about your foreshadowing moments.

Within the first few songs, GPN had the crowd on their feet and moving to the beat. That was all it took. I don’t know what that guy had for dinner, but whatever it was definitely ignited his internal, intestinal, combustion engine. The assault began. 

As John Donne might have said had he been there:  Ask not from whom the smell rolls, it rolls from thee, big guy with the small date seated directly in front of me.

With two more songs gone, in absolute disgust, my nose in a revolted twist, I looked over to the Huzby who had one hand up to his nose while using the other to wave wildly and uselessly. A dense, infected air had descended upon us. The odor wafted heavy and thick—far and wide—and continued for the next two hours.

During this time, the Huzby waged a campaign of reputation damage control. Aware that the row in back of us was also experiencing the noisome noxiousness, he made it clear we were suffering too and were not the perpetrators. As I looked at the two rows directly behind us I saw more hands fly up to protect unsuspecting airways from the odiferous onslaught. With grand, unmistakable hand gestures, The Huzby indicated to the affronted parties: It’s not us, it’s that big guy, the next row down.

I did my best to ignore the foul stench and my maniacally gesticulating spouse. I tried to concentrate on the music. The songs were great. The smell, however, was not only great but constant and breath-stopping. The Huzby, not feeling particularly stoic, vacated to the stairs and leaned against the wall to enjoy a reek-free rest of the show.  At some point I looked behind me to see that most of the folks in the two rows up had taken the Huzby’s lead and fled the scene. I’m telling you. This was bad, bad air.

I truly believed as the evening wore on our beleaguered, butt-burping buddy would run out of—gas. I was wrong. Lord have mercy, was I wrong. Sir Fartsalot managed to keep the pipeline open and flowing for the entire length of the show.  

I had a moment, when I considered lighting a lighter but there were three problems with this plan.
1  1) If I lit a lighter, there might have actually been an explosion.
2   2) If I lit a lighter and there was no explosion, there might be a blue flame that ignited me like a fire cracker since I was in the direct line of fire.
  3) I didn't have a lighter.
And while I was thinking about all the possible incendiary outcomes of lighting a lighter I didn't have, the show ended.

We drove back to our hotel discussing mostly the gaseous bitch-slapping we'd just endured and a bit about the music. 30 minutes later I reported to the Huzby the stink was still embedded in my nasopharynx. Christ, Almighty. Staying power, too. One wonders: Does the military know about this stuff?

As I was falling asleep with stench molecules still unwilling to vacate the receptors in my nostrils, I had a moment when I actually felt sorry for Mr. Methane. But then I thought about it some more and decided that along with feeling sorry for myself, the person I really felt sorry for was his date.


  1. oh, my! Wonder if he was ill? Seems as if you all were really feeling the blues!

  2. Indeed he did. Small for sure and sturdy I assume--in order to withstand the pressures associated...

  3. And thanks to my sweetie. I love it when he thinks I'm funny and he's not talking about my looks.

  4. Lyn, darling! You were so descriptive here, that I could practically smell the guy through my computer screen!!!...and I am serious! Reading your mucous membrane searing synopsis of stench made me imagine something so heinous that it triggered some memories (nightmares) of certain stinky patients that I encountered throughout my medical training. Those malodorous folks, including their precise stench, are indelibly burned into the olfactory pathways of the brain forever, not to mention their appearances and names. Some of these rancid creatures presented at the VA Hospital, and some at Wishard (the county hospital in downtown Indy), and in every ER I ever worked at. Fortunately, I do not encounter this in my nice, upscale, private practice office, where I am permanently situated for most of the week. Everybody is clean, shaved, showered, with the exception of a rare few who smell like stale cigarettes. I have been known to spray a few down with Lysol, while apologizing to them in the process, as I claim to do this to prevent an "allergic reaction" for myself (although I have truly never had an allergy to anything in my life). For the patients I meet at the private outpatient hospital a few miles away from the office every Friday afternoon,not a one has ever presented in putrescent mode for spinal taps, injections, etc. You sure crack me up, Lyn.

  5. Ky, my dear, your memoir is waiting. Very funny stuff.

  6. Yuck. My airplane nightmare.

  7. I was at that show, and it was just as fabulous as described. There was a drunk guy next to my friend who kept ignoring his possibly equally drunk date to tell my friend about the stuffed tigers on stage. After reading what you went through (your descriptive powers are quite fabulous) I have a whole new appreciation for how lucky we were to only have to deal with drunk dude.

  8. We've had ambitions to go to a concert up there at some point; but now not sure. Is it possible this guy is a regular [sic]?

  9. Russ~ Funny! I'd still go for it. My big mistake was in thinking he'd run out of gas. If I were in that situation again, I'd vacate with the Huzby.

  10. Glad you enjoyed Grace & co, sorry 'bout the smelly pants. Grace is from the village in which I live in VT (pop about 1,700) and it goes without saying that everyone is VERY proud of her success. Just a few weeks ago she came home to raise money for our devastating August floods. I don't know her personally (know her parents) but I still have this image of a slightly hippy-esque high school kid. Now she just exudes pure sex appeal. Go Grace!