My friend Kris, who lives in Paris, just wrote to me to say that she's going to be in DC this summer, and she'd like to catch up. She signed it,"PS. What's that TERRIBLE smell?"
I asked her if I could write about it, and she agreed.
She and her husband and two kids have a charming apartment in Paris. I covet their apartment. It's just gorgeous. But, as apartments there are, it's small, and the kitchen and the bathroom are petite. Nothing can be terribly private in that apartment.
A couple summers ago I was visiting them. Kris and I were drinking tea and catching up. Meanwhile, her daughter Carmen, unbeknownst to us, was very industriously spending her time wadding up toilet paper and cramming it down the bathroom sink.
So when Kris's husband, G, used the toilet and then went to wash his hands, the sink was stopped up. Being a very handy guy, he got out the wrench and whatever else one would use to take the plumbing apart.
He called for Carmen, and they started having a bit of a discussion about her toilet paper activities, which we overheard.
Kris and I walked out into the hallway to see what was going on.
And were blasted with a truly foul odor.
We saw that G had taken the pipes of the sink apart, and that he was filling a bucket with wads of toilet paper, pulled it in soggy pink bits and pieces out of the pipes.
And so I said, "Oh, is that what that TERRIBLE smell is?"
Her husband, G, nearly died of embarrassment then and there. His face turned bright red. He stammered.
Kris and I looked at each other, and realized at the same moment that in fact the TERRIBLE stench that was hovering in the air was from G's bathroom activities prior to the washing of the hands and stopping up of the sink.
That realization, coupled with G's mortification, made us roar with laughter. We laughed so hard we were clutching each other trying to stand up. Tears were streaming down our faces.
And back then, for some reason, it enraged Carm when Kris laughed hard. So Carm was screaming "Stop it!" as we tried in vain to stop, if only out of politeness.
G is dying of embarrassment. Carmen is shrieking hysterically. And Kris and I are honestly laughing so hard we can barely breathe. Which of course we are trying not to do because the hallway smells so bad.
If G could've climbed into the toiled and drowned himself then and there, I think he would have. He was that embarrassed.
Now, whenever I see them, at some point in the day Kris will say, "What's that TERRIBLE smell?"