Thursday, June 16, 2011

What's That Smell for $200, Alex

I am a Jeopardy junkie.  I tape it every night, and my wife and I will watch the episodes in spurts.  If you watch Jeopardy, you know that after the first commercial brake, halfway through the first round, Alex interviews the contestants.  I always wondered what story I would tell.  And this is what I settled on.  Is it great?  No.  But it doesn't have to great, because everything is relative, and relatively speaking, most of the stories told suck.  So here we go:

Have you ever woken up on a Sunday morning to frantic sound of knocking on your door?  Sure you have.  We all have.  But most of the time its a Jehovah's Witness or another religious zealot sticking his nose in where it doesn't belong, or some kids trying to sell candy bars to pay for new wrestling unitards or cheerleading outfits
But have you ever opened the front door early on a Sunday morning and find two men standing in biohazard suits waiting for you?  Bet you haven't.  But I have.

It was several weeks after 9/11, and I was living in an apartment complex in Edison, New Jersey, and everyone was paranoid.  And when someone smelled something strange...

Anyway, we were given just enough time clothing and then ushered out of the house.  No time to put in contact lenses or even take a piss.  Thankfully I knew where my glasses were.  I felt like I was an extra in the sequel to the movie Outbreak, and as my wife (girlfriend at the time) and I were forced out along with every other bleary-eyed resident, I couldn't help but scan the roof for a loose monkey.  I saw none, and was slightly disappointed.  But I did see plenty of police cars, fire engines, and guys in funny outfits
We were told we wouldn't be allowed back into the apartment until the mystery subtance that was discovered was fully examined, and they didn't know how long that would be.  It was cold, so we left for her parents' house, stopping along the way at a CVS to use the restroom.

We returned ten hours later as dusk set in and found everything quiet.  We talked to a couple of neighbors and learned the truth of the mystery liquid that was found in the entranceway to the apartment building:

Someone had spilled curry.  And someone else freaked out and called the police.

Now, you have to understand, Edison, NJ has a very large Indian population, and the smell of curry is very prominent.  Pervasive, even.  When we moved into the apartment, the handles to all of the kitchen cabinets were covered with a thin layer of curry powder, and if I could have stripped the wallpaper, I would have, because the smell had just sunk in. 

To live in Edison is to be intimate with the smell of curry.

Obviously someone was new in town, and instead of maybe asking someone what the strange smell was, he panicked and called the police.

As if someone would waste their time on a chemical attack against a small apartment building in Northern New Jersey.

See... not a great story, but better than the crap that most people spew on Jeopardy.

I still can't smell curry without seeing a biohazard suit in my mind's eye.  Indian food has been ruined for me forever.

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