I can procrastinate with the best of them–in fact, most of the time I’m just getting around to procrastinating–but there are things you can’t argue with for long, and having a dead-rat smell inside your refrigerator is one of them.
You can let it go a day out of sheer disbelief. You can then imagine the smell is not coming from inside the refrigerator even though it wafts out only when you open the door; you can suppose there is a small deceased rodent behind the refrigerator, and that it will dry up into a cracker if you ignore it thoroughly enough.
You can suspect–if you’re really good at this–it is not real at all, but instead is a neurological delusion of the olfactory centers in the brain, triggered by the sound of a refrigerator door opening, just like the one you used to store dead mice in when you worked in a toxicology lab for practically no pay at all.
You figure it’s got to be one of those things, because the refrigerator in question is the beer refrigerator, and it’s full of beer, which absolutely never smells like a dead rat outside of Iceland, where they make beer out of whale testicles.
Except…it’s not completely full of beer. Ever since we took the keg out of it, forty years ago, because we found it attracted more friends than we really wanted, there has been room for a case and a half of beer and several blocks of cheese. I opened the door again. Same smell. But all the cheese is intact. Either swaddled in plastic or wax, every one.
The worms! The worms we kept for Studley have finally turned! We’ve got a million of them in there. We have four cottage cheese containers of mealworms all lined up to go to heaven in the form of a chickadee gullet, and we never seem to run out. (We haven’t even opened containers two through four yet. It’s possible we overbought.)
I withdrew a worm container and, with gingerly trepidation, pried open the lid. Worms. Live worms, mostly, that didn’t smell.
And finally I saw it. A pound of maitake mushrooms rotting in the bottom crisper because there was no room in the Real Fridge. That was the culprit, all right, every bit as fragrant as a rat gone by, and it had been since the day after I bought them. Maitake mushrooms look like a puffball with a mohawk and they’re made of mycelium and money, and I was intending to introduce them to some garnet yams, oil, and feta cheese.
But now I’ll have to wait until I save up again.