Proper Corpse Storage and Musty Bearhugs

Under no circumstances should one ever store dead bodies below the kitchen sink. Along with being unhygienic, it doesn’t matter how tightly sealed the container is, or the materials the bin is made from, eventually the smell will escape. I speak from experience here.

I began with good intentions, in the way that most stories do which end with someone gagging on the smell of their regret. Longing to be the dippiest of hippy-dippy hippies, I had expressed interest in vermiculture; so for my birthday, Tex purchased three pounds of worms for me. In preparation for their arrival, we started gathering compost in a medium size tub underneath our sink. Contrary to popular belief, worms don’t actually eat the compost, they eat the bacteria which break down the compost.

It takes time for enough bacteria colonies to form, so the recommendation is to leave the compost for a week or so prior to adding the worms. I may have left our bin a little longer. Ok maybe a lot longer. Allright, fine, I confess, I left the compost waaaaaay too long. In a sealed container.

That last sentence is the important one, because an important clarification is that worms prefer aerobic bacteria, meaning bacteria that thrive when exposed to air. The awful smell that’s emitted from decomposing carcasses? That’s the work of anaerobic bacteria, or the bacteria that work without exposure to oxygen.

So there those bacteria were, working away on our vegetable peels and coffee grounds and apple cores, having a no oxygen party in their sealed paradise. For weeks. Ok a month. Allright, it was a month and a half, and during those last two weeks, my kitchen smelled seriously funky. It might have even stank just before I decided to deal with the container.

It’s possible that it wasn’t even my decision to take action. There may have been prodding from my dear spouse who commented that our kitchen smelled like a decomposing elk that expired in the woods near the farm which Tex’s uncle once bet my husband five dollars to try and touch without vomiting. For the record, there is only one response to this- “You had weird games growing up; my family just played Monopoly”.

Because I make bad decisions, I decided to open the aforementioned stinky container while still in the house. My first mistake was opening the container at all- the stench was so bad that it singed the inside of my nose and throat making an indelible mark. The second mistake was carrying this out in the kitchen, where the smell promptly clung to every surface.

Tex while yelling at me to take the container to the porch, quickly scooped up Mini-Tex and ran, in an effort to protect our infant son from the stink. Before making one of the worst decisions of my life, and one that will likely lose us our damage deposit when we move, I had prepared a larger tub full of leaves to mix in with the compost. Worms need a two to one mixture of leaves to compost in order to thrive.

My throat burning from the smell, I poured the half liquid, half solid, one hundred percent disgusting mess into the container of leaves. Even after the tempering effect of the leaves, the mixture still smelled like a combination of dead bodies, garbage and the devil’s air freshener.

In the meantime, Tex had opened every window in our home and thrown open all the doors despite the freezing temperatures. He had set Mini-Tex down in front of a fan which was channeling fresh air from outside, concluding that our son was at greater risk of dying from the smell of decay than hypothermia.

Previously, I thought that the olfactory low point of my week was going to be bearhugging bedding from my grandmother’s house to transport it to Value Village. Instead of Old Spice, I ended up smelling like Old House, a scent that was surprisingly pervasive and clingy but completely paled in comparison to the monstrosity I had unleashed upon our family and home in opening the container of death.

Following my eau de corpse debacle, we moved the compost bin to the porch and removed the lid so aerobic bacteria could mix with the air and party, thus outcompeting their putrid, oxygen hating counterparts.

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