It’s a fact of life that some things just don’t smell very nice — rotting garbage, hockey bags, wet dogs — and yes, skunks. They’re a part of living in Maine, those pesky critters with a stripe down their back that can peel paint when they spray.
In fact, I’ve discovered over the last few days that nearly every Mainer has a story to share about their dog being sprayed, hitting one with their car as it waddles across a dark roadway and even a few that have shared tales about being sprayed themselves. But I can top these stories.
No, this isn’t a fish tale. The kind where you exaggerate to make your catch sound bigger than your fishing buddies. This story doesn’t require exaggeration.
On Sunday night — around midnight — I awoke with watering eyes, a scratchy throat and burning nostrils. We had been skunked.
We still haven’t determined if said skunk sprayed against the house, in a crawl space under the porch or simply was just the most powerful sprayer in the neighborhood and merely sprayed in the vicinity. But this doesn’t matter. The critter accomplished what it set out to do. My house had been bombed.
We knew it was bad. It woke up my husband, the dog was cowering in the hallway, and even the baby roused a little. We couldn’t make it go away. As the scent seeped in, I pulled a couple paper towels off the roll, doused them in Vicks and put them in our pillows. I later learned that my husband couldn’t take it and resorted to stuffing pieces of the towel in his nose.
But a few hours later when we got up and headed out for the day, it didn’t seem so bad … or so I thought.
I brought the baby to the sitter — it was a normal morning. I was running a little late as Mondays always seem to make us, but when I set our dear little girl down in the sitter’s living room, I was asked, “Who got sprayed?”
Oh no. It was worse than I thought — we were stinky. After a few moments of panic, I was assured that it would be OK. The world’s best babysitter could deal with it — the stinky diaper bag, the smelly car seat and, worst of all, my dear, sweet child that also had a slightly skunky odor.
I returned to the car to find four missed calls on the cellphone from my husband and reluctantly returned the call. He was already at work.
“Has anyone told you that you smell?”
We all know the answer. I slathered myself in pretty-smelling lotion and headed to work (after calling ahead to poke fun at myself and warn them I was coming) where I was assured by two colleagues that they couldn’t smell anything. Then it happened.
“It smells skunky in here,” said a fellow employee as she walked to her desk.
We narrowed down the worst of it to my purse and laptop bag, which I immediately placed in a filing cabinet drawer. Another co-worker offered up a bottle of Febreze. I drenched my office chair, jacket, purse, laptop case, the carpet around my seat and myself.
I posted on Facebook explaining the stinky situation and asked for advice on what to do. I wasn’t disappointed and received 20 comments offering potions of peroxide, vinegar, dish detergent and tomato juice. Others simply wanted to share their skunk encounters or let me know that my misfortune had made them smile (I aim to please).
Throughout the day, an occasional whiff of the skunky smell wafted through the newsroom, and it wasn’t until the next day, when I smelled a little better, that colleagues admitted they could still smell the potent aroma even after I had evacuated the building.
But the real problem still exists — although the situation is improving. The whole house smells. Blankets, carpets, pillows, the couch, clothes and even a necklace I tried to wear to work the following day had a lingering skunk smell.
I’ve spent more money than I care to admit on Nature’s Miracle Skunk Odor Remover (it really works), and scented garbage bags to store clothes in while I attempt to de-stink the rest of the house. I’ve dropped dollars on Febreze, Lysol disinfectant spray, carpet deodorizers, jars filled with concoctions that claim to trap odors, dryer sheets and bars of soap I’ve stuffed in drawers and bags and kitty litter that’s sitting in old yogurt containers throughout the house.
I’ve become obsessed with sniffing clothes, the dog, upholstery, curtains, baby toys.
Every day it seems to get a little better. Our eyes aren’t watering anymore. My scratchy throat is gone. And we’ve stopped using the baby’s dirty diapers as air fresheners. Things are looking up, but I’m afraid there’s going to be a next time.
My neighbors likely think I’m crazy because I’ve been sprinkling coffee grounds around the house and talking to our new stinky resident, pleading with him or her to find a new place to live or at least to spray. Next, we’ll be setting out mothballs, another way we’ve been told to get the smelly pests to leave. But there’s still the lingering dread that there will come a day when, once again, colleagues will be ribbing me for my new (unwanted) perfume, sending emails addressed to Pepe Le Pew and the sitter will be forced to once again refer to my darling daughter as Flower — the skunk from Bambi.