Friday, November 22, 2019

The Smell Of Success

Chicago might be Frank's kind of town, but it wasn't mine due to one thing.

The smell.

I suppose being a crime writer and having that imagination, the drawback is  also that same  imagination which can sometimes ( always)  teeter towards the macabre... 

So walking around Chicago ( not that windy, but very cold!)  we kept getting a sniff of something... a weird smell that was there one minute, gone the next - like the strawberry cream in a box of  chocolates.

I got a bit obsessed by it, trying to convince myself that it wasn't there or it was a mix of other smells.

 We walked for 15 miles each of the days we were there, and the smell seemed to follow us around like a... like .. well like a bad smell.

Then came to day that Donald Trump visited castle which was across the road from our hotel- the River Hotel. We had received a slip of paper under the door the night before saying that HE was visiting and while that wasn't an issue for us, the protests might be so we were advised to be out our room by 9.30 am and it was would be ok to return any time after 3.30pm. 

So we did. We did the walk you can see in the pictures. Out the hotel, along the walkway by the river then along the lakefront to the navy pier.

The famous Chicago skyline.

Hear no evil, see no evil..... Smell no evil. That last guy is definitely  holding his nose.

 The smell was less here.....

And even less here....

A different smell here......dogs on the beach right under the sign that  said 'no dogs on the beach'.

 The tide was definitely on its way it, was it bringing the smell with it?

Chicago is full of people running elsewhere... away from the smell?

So we set off to the zoo for our usual zoo check, at least there we thought the smell will be replaced by other smells, those that emanate  from the back of some grass eating mammal.

  But the smell continued.....  and I was cross when I looked at this sign, we had walked a long way and it looked as if we still had another mile to walk !  Then, on closer inspection, I saw this sign actually had a giraffe  head and neck, not a numerical 'one'.


After  the visit, we walked back through the city, passed Hugh Hefner's house, the smell stopped following us. There was the usual scents of the city- exhaust fumes and coffee houses. At the hotel, the protesters were packing away their Trump pooh sticks, the big black people carriers had gone, the massive police presence had gone. But the smell, the sickly sweet smell had returned.

We went into our hotel and I though the smell had changed, and was much worse.
I went on the sniff. I sniffed the soles of our shoes- all the shoes. I sniffed out clothes. I sniffed our bins in the hotel room. I sniffed the cheese in our cheese rolls. I stuck everything in the shower room and closed the door. The smell in the room stayed. I  switched the air con on and off, got up on  chair and tried to sniff the grate. The smell was so bad I was convinced  there was a dead body in the vent somewhere, maybe some would be assassin had crawled around it and got stuck and his bodily fluids were leaking out- it didn't  smell like human decay-  it smelled like the stage before human decay.

Then the smell went away and we ate our tea and went to bed. I woke up at 3AM with the smell giving me a headache. I thought we were being gassed in some terror attack, somebody had poisoned the vents. I put off the air con. I checked the hall, no smell there so I  looked under the bed to see if there was a decomposing body ( by now it did smell like that!).  My headache was worsening, the sniff was awful. HE of course,   would only admit to  being aware of a slight scent of something, probably something Housekeeping had cleaned the place with. I was sure there was a dead body somewhere in the room....

Then, after pulling the place apart at 4 am,  all the suitcases open and closed, drawers in and out, I  did something I should have done on the first sniff, I googled  Chicago and Smell.

It's the first thing that comes up. Described as a smell that at first is sweet, then  slightly sickly, then if you are not used to it can cause headache and slight nausea. If you are used to it, it smells like home,
One man even tried legal action on the basis that the smell had decreased the value of his flat, he wasn't successful.

So where does the smell come from? Chicago's complicated water and sewer system?  Nope. Is it the smell of the river?  Nope. It's the famous / infamous  of the Blommer Chocolate Factory!

Caro Ramsay 22nd November


  1. Replies
    1. Of course I could be lying. It might have been a body. Or our socks.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Of course. We know very well that all authors are unreliable narrators.

  2. Did you run out the next day and buy some Brommer chocolate to take home?

    1. Let me think about that for 0.3 milliseconds. No !

  3. OOOH Caro, I have always enjoyed Chicago. Now I am afraid.

  4. Such a sweet ending to a mysterious tale. I guess there is a benefit to having no sense of smell...or very limited one.

  5. I grew up in Chicago and the only smell -- and it was terrible at that -- was the one emanating from oil refineries and gas tanks in Gary, Indiana. We had to hold our noses. It smelled like rotten eggs for miles.