My one attempt as an undergraduate to have a hip, groovy party was on Valentine's Day (1995?). My roommate, Alexa, and I made cute little invitations and made sure to insist that our friends wear "festive love duds." It was the dorkiest premise considering how extremely dorky the two of us were (we grew out of it, for sure).
We lived in an old, shifty apartment building in the North Oakland neighborhood in Pittsburgh. Across the street from our building was a Dairy Queen that was open year round. Despite the regular winter customers, I never saw a DQ cone being passed over the counter during the winter, if you know what I mean. We lived on the sixth floor and sometimes had to walk the steps when the elevator was down. Sucked.
So when party time came 'round, we were pretty desperate about the elevator working. Which didn't happen. Lex's boyfriend hauled the keg up six flights and we were mortified that our cool, hip friends would have to climb the steps to get to our shindig. It was completely embarrassing, given that we (maybe it was just me) so very much wanted to be adored via this cool soiree. Additionally, there was an odor. It was definitely strongest on the first floor and it was miserable. It smelled a lot like rotten poopy baby diapers. Not only did our guests have to schlep up the steps, but the first thing they mentioned when entering our apartment was something about the horrifying stench.
No, our combined cuteness, delightful decorations, and delicious snacks were not the subject of the evening. It was the gut-wrenching fragrance of death on the first floor. I have a great picture of me dancing with my boyfriend and his twin brother. It's sweet and funny and what I remember most about that party. I wish I could insert it here.
Unfortunately, I can't; but I can recall that about three or four evenings later I came home to TV news reporters filming from our front door. Alexa hounded them about what the hell was going on and they wouldn't say. Finally, while watching the late news, we found out that the reporters were there to deliver the story of a man who died of "natural causes" in his apartment. (a question: why wouldn't the reporters just tell us? seriously? were they afraid they'd lose us as viewers if we already knew the news?)
Yup. That's all. No foul play, no suicidal drama. He was just old and didn't have anybody keeping track of him and he happened to live on the first floor of our building. All of this is to say that I know what a dead body smells like and damn, it's grody. Also, I guess I'm sharing a little nostalgia for 1995 when I had a bob and thick bangs and Alexa had a bob with a perma-curl-under (you know what I mean? the thing where the hair is always perfectly curled under?). It was also the year that I called 911 twice while watching someone beat the shit out of someone else in front of our apartment building. Same year and neighborhood where I was chased down the street by a delirious woman WITH A BRICK THAT SHE TOSSED AT ME (she accused me of giving her the evil eye). It was a good year. It was the second year of my writing life.
How's the stink?
with much sighing and remembering,