Least of all when I’m in a shed
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A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE
I’m not sure what the word is for flapping a trash bag in the air to make it open. It could be ‘unfurl’ and it could be ‘flap,’ but it’s what I was doing the other day to one of those big black ones that we use for outdoor rubbish when I was suddenly overwhelmed by a powerful scent of fresh flowers in the way one might be when hugging an elderly lady after a church service.
If ‘overwhelmed’ is too strong a word, let me just say that I was whelmed.
Also, I’d like to point out that the flower scent was the only thing in common between the huge bag and the elderly lady.
At first, I didn’t think it was the bag. There I was, doing the unfurling, as one does, when the floral whiff struck me and I actually stopped unfurling and looked around me, half expecting to see that someone had hurled a bouquet over the garden fence or at the very least squirted a bathroom air freshener in my direction. But no. It was the bag.
Of course I did the thing that everyone does when they think something smells funny or needs further examination. I put the bag on my face and breathed deeply.
Anyone watching this, perchance from a nearby car or through a window, might have been puzzled by my silent antics, but I can assure you that everything I did was entirely in the name of scientific research.
The bag smelled strongly of flowers.
Bags don’t normally do this.
I looked at the box that I had just bought and opened for the first time. Sure enough, it bore a little picture showing a brand name that I won’t repeat and the word ‘scented.’
The box had appealed to me in the store because it showed a black plastic bag being used to hold something quite large and clearly pointy in odd places, and since outdoor rubbish is often large and pointy in odd places I had decided these were the bags for me. On top of that, the label had graphics that looked like steel plating one finds on toolboxes and work trucks.
You know; a man’s kind of bag.
Okay, that was sexist. Bags aren’t gender-specific. They’re for rubbish. Anyone can have rubbish and want to throw it away. It’s not exclusively a men’s preserve. Women can have just as much rubbish and put it in big bags, and that’s all I’m going to say about that.
These bags, however, were – shall we say – muscular.
And they smelled of flowers in quite the most peculiar way.
It wasn’t a particularly delightful smell. It wasn’t dainty or (here we go again) feminine. It wasn’t the sort of thing I’d really want to rub all over me or in which I’d like to be doused, least of all when I’m in a shed, gathering up some bits of rubbish that will shortly be thrown into a big dump somewhere outside another town or (please don’t do this) set on fire in a field.
Two or three broken plastic flowerpots, some boxes that had held tools or pool supplies, a handful of sticks (quite pointy), the mop end of a mop, a gadget for opening gadgets and never had, parts of a hose that the dogs had chewed, casters from a cabinet that had long ago been returned to the earth, and one of those hand-held prong things that you rake a flowerbed with to loosen the soil… These were the bits and pieces that went into the big black bag that I was now holding at arm’s length to avoid having the flower smell embed itself in my nose hairs.
Everything was less smelly than the bag.
How bad can our American rubbish be that we have to cover its odor with another while we’re throwing it away?
It takes science to make a big bag smell. Someone had to invent a way of doing that.
With all apologies to over-perfumed ladies at church, and to ladies who are just as entitled to muscular bags as men, I have to ask where we have come as a developed nation for there have been a job opportunity for some budding college graduate to infuse a smell into big black plastic bags to turn rubbish clearance into a memorably scented experience.
One day, a very long time hence, archaeologists ferreting about in a forgotten dump somewhere will suddenly stop, look at each other accusingly, one eyebrow raised, and exchange the expression that says “Was that you?”
We put a golf cart on Mars. What else did we do? Oh yes. Smell this.