Something smells fishy

Derrick Knutson
Derrick Knutson

It’s me. I smell fishy. Well, after two weeks, I think the smell is gone, or maybe I’ve just gone “nose blind,” which is some term I heard in a commercial recently.
I’m not much of a fish eater, but occasionally I’ll catch some during the summer, fillet and then fry them. I was in a store (one that is not in the coverage area of this paper and shall go unnamed) recently, and I thought to myself: “Hey, I’d like a little taste of summer. I think I’ll get some fish.”
Prior to this purchase, I’d never bought fish from a store. I had always caught anything I’d prepared and cooked. I make it pretty simple: I roll the fillets in egg wash and bread and then fry them in oil. Generally, I can smell lake-caught fish in the house for a few hours after frying, and then the smell goes away. This was nowhere near the case with the cod I purchased.
Preparing and eating the cod went just fine — it tasted normal, and it had a fine consistency to it. My wife and I both thought it was pretty good. But oh, my goodness, the smell that hung around afterward was atrocious. I figured it would go away overnight, but that didn’t happen at all. When I walked out into the living room the next day, I was greeted by a smell that reminded me of Pike’s Place Market in Seattle: a pungent fishy aroma enveloped the entire space, all the way down to the front door of our split-entry home.
I went to work, assuming the smell would be gone when I got home. It was not.
I’d had it with the stench, so I used bleach spray on every hard surface, I mopped the floor with some flowery-smelling soap, and I even filled up our wet vac with the odoriferous pet stain remover liquid, and I cleaned the living room carpet.
I thought I had taken care of the smell, but when my wife got home the first thing out of her mouth was, “It still smells like fish.”
Feeling angry and defeated, I grabbed a bottle of Febreze and sprayed the rug in the house’s entryway, the rug in the kitchen and all of the steps. This seemed to stymie the smell further, but when I went to leave for work the following day, I was still getting a whiff of fish in the living room. As a last-ditch effort, we moved our ionizing air purifier from our bedroom to the living room. I figured maybe that thing could destroy the scent particles with some electricity.
Just as bad as the smell in our house was the fish stench that somehow embedded itself in my hands. I’d never experienced anything like it. I can fillet 20 sunfish, give my hands a thorough washing with straight dish soap, and the smell goes away — not so much with the store-bought cod, which I was beginning to think was the progeny of a fish and some sort of water-dwelling skunk.
I’d taken multiple showers and scrubbed my hands many times to get the smell to go away. I thought I had been successful, but when I was at a meeting recently I took a drink out of a water bottle, bringing my hand close to my nose. There was the unmistakable smell of fish. Thinking the other people around me might smell it, I backed off the table a bit and tried to keep my hands below table level when I wasn’t taking notes. I didn’t want someone near me to say, “Hey, do you smell that?”
I would have been forced to sheepishly reply, “Um … I don’t know what you’re talking about. I take showers and wash my hands. I swear.”
Thankfully, the smell did leave my hands, and I’m pretty sure it’s now out of our house. But from time to time when I’m cooking on the range, I could swear I’m catching a phantom whiff of fish. It could just be a trick of my mind — maybe my brain needs to be sprayed with Febreze, too.

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