What's That Smell?

What's that Smell?


During my junior year at Rutgers, I roomed in the Alpha Chi Rho fraternity house. I had been selected as Social Chairman, a position I held for two years, and as such was required to live in the house. Our house had nine bedrooms on the second and third floors, with three on the third floor and six on the second. There was enough room for 24 brothers, 10 of whom were on the third floor. {there was also a small suite on the second floor for the house mother, so in all there were 25 people in residence}. 

I was assigned a garret style bedroom on the third floor and shared it with two other guys, Rudy R and Mike N. The other two slept in a bunk bed with RR on top. Up in the garret or attic, we had a small bathroom with only a single shower, an urinal and a toilet, so we had to learn to take turns and to become chummy. But, we were brothers so privacy was something we had to give up (or be mindful of what we learned in Kindergarten - Sharing. 

Anyway, during the fall, everything went well, Mike and I were generally early risers and so we normally were in bed by 11 and never later than midnight. Rudy was a night owl and came to bed at 2 or 3 in the morning. He spent his time in the downstairs TV room from after dinner until he went to bed. To this day, I have no idea when he studied. Our room had one desk and two small fold up tables and since Rudy was the senior brother (he and I were in same class, but he had joined the fraternity a year earlier than me), he got the desk. To my knowledge in was only a place for him to empty his pockets.

After it got colder and we had to close up the windows, Mike and I started to notice that the room had a pungent smell that eluded our early attempts to find its cause. 

I need to interject here, that we had a service on campus from an outside supplier that would do our sheets, pillowcases and towels once a week. One paid for the service at the beginning of the semester and then merely took the dirty linens to the truck (it had set places and days) and exchanged them for a package of clean ones. Of course, occasionally you would miss the truck and have to use linens for two weeks, but this didn't happen often and if you knew you couldn't get to the truck, you could ask someone to taken yours with theirs. The service didn't care how many you brought, since you got the same number back. 

Back to the story, Mike and I noticed that Rudy's linens had not been changed in some time and sure enough they weren't very fresh smelling, but it wasn't the complete source. In any case, we purchased some air freshener and sprayed it on his linens and bought some minor relief. As time passed, the odor became stronger and stronger and Mike and I started leaving the windows open and using air freshener at a prodigious rate. Since Rudy didn't like the windows open, he closed them when he came to bed, so we made sure we were fast asleep before he did.

 Comparing notes, we learned that neither of us had any remembrance of Rudy taking a shower (of course, he might have been using the ones downstairs). Then we noticed that he had been in the same clothes for as long as we could remember, in fact, we were sure he slept in them as well, but since we were asleep when he came in at night and gone when he got up, we weren't sure.

So, we came to the conclusion (duh) that Rudy was the cause of the smell. We thought that perhaps he didn't have enough money to wash his clothes or pay for linen service and tried to figure out how to approach him.

About this time, the brothers he watched TV with started to complain about his odor and they started to shy away from watching TV so late. The result of all this was to plan a spontaneous everybody gets wet day. 

As an explanation, I did to interject once again. Occasionally, one brother would be messing with another and the result would be that one or (usually) both would end up in the shower completely clothed. They would then seek another victim to share the misery and eventually garden hoses would come into play and everyone who didn't hide properly {I once hid in the attic area next to the garrett behind the chimney and ended up being the last one found} or escape the house would be soaked.

Okay back to the story once again, we staged it so that Rudy would not know that it was for his benefit. He was saved until last, allowing him to think he had been clever in hiding. and while he was in the shower, we stripped his bed and threw everything in the wash tubs in the basement. That's where his clothes ended up as well. So we had, at least for the moment, a clean Rudy who was forced to put on new clothes (he had packages of underwear in his dresser that had never been opened).

All of this activity had occurred on Saturday and when I went to clean up the breakfast dishes on Monday (it was my turn), I discovered that his stuff was still soaking in the tubs. I removed them (and thoroughly cleaned the tubs) and placed them in a pile on top of some empty beer kegs. I hadn't noticed, but he had been sleeping without sheets or blanket and didn't seem to care where his stuff was. Finally, on Thursday, he asked me if I knew where his stuff was.

Mike and I eventually had to tell him that he needed to wash himself and change his linens and clothes regularly. He didn't take it well since he realized all the brothers had been in on it and assumed I had been the ringleader of the stunt. It took almost a year before he talked to me again. But....Mike and I could go into our room with no nausea and not have to try to get to sleep before Rudy closed the windows.

Davdan @ 2008-2018