Smelling Myself Senseless
Since I stopped smoking over a year and a half ago, my sense of smell has reluctantly returned and sometimes it seems with a vengeance. Where I had gladly tread before unaware and unaffected I am now assailed with undue odorous intent. Like the urine drenched alleyways that bisect my neighborhood or the culinary indiscretions that my neighbors partake in on a daily basis. I seem plagued with sensory overload and tend to yearn for the days when I was unaware and unburdened with having to notice all these un-fragrant assaults on my inebriated nostrils.
Of course outside in the streets it is only too obvious why it reeks the way it does. The lack of adequate sidewalk toilet facilities for the populace that lives there combined with the nocturnal nightclub goers’ need to piss equals a veritable urinary onslaught on the surrounding building’s walls and crevices. And I’ve got to honestly admit that there have been times that I’ve had to go really badly, like after hours of trying to park the car, and I thought about whipping it out and having a quick splash against a stationary cop car or errant fire hydrant, but thankfully those thoughts tend to run their course and go away. Or I might a been left with another uncured insatiable vice or worse. Especially if the local police officers were to have finished pursuing the newest big butt porn magazines and came out of Jack’s liquors while I was in mid consecration on their irreverent vehicle. Then I’d be looking at more than just a slight case of indiscretion and more than likely it would be a little down time with another charge pending over at the Hall of Justice.
Lately the city, for whatever it’s worth, has started using some sort of disinfectant in the water that’s sprayed when they attempt to clean the streets that you can still smell lingering for a few hours after the street sweeping trucks have sped by – eliciting somewhat tangible memories of a gas station restroom’s disinfectant odor. Which in itself may possibly be adding to the general state of sanitary perplexity by triggering the urge to urinate in some people by confusing the issue in their minds of where it is they actually are. Like some smell association test gone foul resulting in an inadvertent release of bodily fluid as a knee jerk reaction. But I hardly think this is actually the case when I am susceptible to the vaguest of inducements with the will power of a gnat and for some reason I can keep it in my pants until I get inside. However the point still being that if the city is actually taking steps to combat this overpowering health hazard then it must really be bad. Because as a rule City Hall doesn’t do a thing unless it gets to catastrophic proportions all the while citing monetary deficits or the need to preserve the Old World charm of San Francisco’s neighborhoods.
However unfortunately in the end urine is the least of the local contamination problems that plague my embittered community: Although in most other parts of the city there is a strictly enforced “pooper scooper” law for the removal of all bowel movements disgorged from household pets, South of Market seems to have been designated a communal litter box free for all for whatever species needs to relieve themselves.
Insert: Personal sworn statement of a true first hand experience: Sunny day off from work, time for errands and I run down to the car with my mind full of places to be and things to get done. The car: Parked on Stillman alley; a quaint yet cesspoolish type environment of a side street but always a readily free parking space for one to exploit, and floating on the breeze that day was the unmistakable scent of fresh shit. “God damn its getting bad down here!” I thought and proceeded to get in my car and roll down the windows and with a mighty three and a half cylinders of raw power I peeled out into traffic on my way north to downtown. Yet even more shit smell is on the air and I’m thinking. “Maybe the sewer system is backing up again?” As I’m turning onto the green expanse of the Civic Center there’s another unmistakably strong whiff of excrement and a naïve idea materializes in my brain. “Are the city gardeners throwing manure about today making the whole city reek?” So I drop my library books into the return slot at the main library and continue on my merry way stopping for the traffic light at Van Ness and Market where the stench seems to be at its peak like an overpowering essence of phew and I have to admit. “Either I’m going insane or the entire city smells like one giant pile of turds today!” However the gas tank is on ‘E’ and I pull into the station on Market and Debouce and get out and go to the rear of my car by the gas cap and its then that I see a huge crusty diarrhea load piled onto the bumper of my car! I am totally floored! I am thunderstruck speechless! What’s more, I am thoroughly disgusted! Some miscreant has shit on my car and for the last twenty minutes or so I have paraded around town with this exposed reeking load of crap on my bumper for all to see and smell!
Ok, so first inclination is who hates me that much to defecate on my car? Not the most productive of deductions I’ll admit but it is hard not to take a pile of shit on your car somewhat personally thereby enabling the detachment of yourself enough to be objective. However on a somewhat reluctant closer examination of my neighborhood, especially Stillman Alley where I tend to always park, it is duly apparent that this is indeed the destination of choice for most of the local street people to relieve themselves. A dark quiet secluded place it is indeed and from the looks of it well used with another odd phenomenon of what appear to be blasts of bowel movements three and four feet vertically off the ground onto the walls and pilings of the overhead elevated freeway. What this is indicative of I have no idea but I think that the current subject has run its course and we need to move on in another direction like at least back inside of my apartment building while desperately urging that something be done in order to alleviate the unquestionable risk of people’s health as they are forced to either navigate or live on our city’s streets.
End of shit story – gag reflex stifled. Continue with: Smells I’d rather not indulge in/Part Two.
So of course I’ve already chronicled the noise factor in my apartment building and so it should be no surprise when I say that there is not much that impedes the odors from one apartment to another either. Not a lot of care or consideration was taken in the planning or the design of my building and when I can easily hear the phones ringing, the TV’s blaring and the tenants screaming on several floors all the time any time around me, you can only imagine what it is like when these same people go into their kitchens to feed themselves. Fortunately no one heats up dog food in the microwave like my deranged downstairs neighbor use to do directly below my former apartment’s window. But the incessant burning of swine bits and the constant use of George Foreman Grills on questionable ground lumps of mad cow sends wafting clouds of grease infused exhaust through the vents and under my door to become one with my apartment and my being! Toast, it seems, must be burnt or at least scorched, frying, especially of fish, must take place in the same rancid oil for months at a time and who knows what the woman in 495 is doing but her smoke detector is on a constant screech with her door ajar as a smoldering light blue haze hovers two feet off the ground in the hallway.
Many a night I’ll be asleep only to wake up to some sort of beef stew/hash/frying grease medley making its way up my nose as if someone is preparing dinner in my kitchen not two feet away. This mixed with the cooking of Methamphetamine in two of the apartments on the fifth floor, the constant discharge of the exhaled smoke from a million crack pipes throughout the building as well as outside on the sidewalk and the untold number of cigarette and blunt smokers in every apartment around me leaves me thinking that maybe this not smoking deal was a bad idea in the first place. For one I am not able to provide my fellow dope fiends with ‘smokes’ whenever I venture out and am asked this request about ten times in a one block radius worth of walking. Or two that it is indeed indicative of the divide I am experiencing with my neighbors as just another thing that we are no longer able to bond over. And of course finally three where ignorance is bliss and do I really want to be able to smell all these malodorous instigates rubbing up against my reawakened olfactory nerves?
Its not like I’m yearning to live in the overly expensive and better off rich people neighborhoods where its rumored that they wash the streets down with slightly deluded Channel No. 5 as a nightly routine or actually sweep the gutters once in a while. And I haven’t even touched on the new-found pleasures of noticing that once again I am inhaling diesel exhaust fumes while driving or stifling a wretch when passing the seedy come hither smell of old spilt drinks on barroom floors at seven am in the morning. Or slimy overused public restrooms in government buildings. Or sweaty folks on the back of the bus during rush hour. Or crusty overflowing dumpsters behind restaurants. Or sewer drains and steam spewing open manholes. Or…