I promised you the milk story, but I suppose I’ve been holding back. It wasn’t the trip upstate or my lack of internet connection that kept it from the web, no, it was my inability to process the story and move past the hysteria that erupted. But more of that later. First there is the milk rather, first there is the smell of the milk.
So last week I celebrated my six month anniversary at my magazine with a Lean Cuisine and some extra coffee. The office kitchen is open and expansive, with two huge industrial size refrigerators that are always stuffed to the brim with everything from frozen falafel to chocolate syrup to truffle oil. It’s also downstairs, so sometimes I opt to leave my frozen calorie counter in the mini fridge in my department. Sometimes. The thing is, when I started working at the magazine, I noticed the dorm room sized fridge at the end of the department. It was filled with energy drinks and sandwiches and the worst smell in the world. Regardless, I accepted it as the norm and occasionally stashed lunch in there.
But last week was rock bottom. I opened to door of the fridge to retrieve my Lean Cuisine when the smell of chemical moldy animal hit me.
“You guys,” I exclaimed, “This fridge smells like shit. I mean, god, whose milk is this?”
No one looked up.
“Seriously, guys. Who left their milk in here?”
This time everyone began to make eye contact — first with me, then with one another.
No one claimed the milk. I picked it up from the door and gasped. The smell was overpowering. It was magnified vomit. It was hot melting meat. It was dog crap burning under gasoline.
“Wholy fuck!” I gagged. “November!”
“November what?” the ad guy asked.
“November 6 is the expiration date!”
“No — I think this past November. 2007. I don’t think they date the milk with the year.”
“My god!” shouted the assistant, “Get rid of it!”
I didn’t know what to do. The stink was torturing. I couldn’t just throw it away. I ran it off to the freight elevator and came back. The smell had slightly dissipated, leaving a trail of nausea in its wake. I grabbed my lunch and hurried downstairs to brew coffee. I figured that would help erase the idea of the scent.
Sitting down with my lunch, my nose halfway in my coffee mug, I told the story to the faction from editorial who missed the milky saga. At the end, jaws were dropped. The office coordinator’s hands were over her mouth.
“How could you?” she asked, in shock.
I sat back in my chair triumphantly. “Someone had to do it.”
“You fool! You left the milk next to the freight elevator? It’s not air conditioned in there!” She looked flushed with anxiety.
The ad guy volunteered to help me remove the milk from the premise. We had ten minutes to dispose of the milk before the NYU students came in to hear all about the wonders of working for a magazine in the city. We pounded our fists together and set off to the freight elevator to collect the hazmat.
He picked up the carton and held it away from his body in a stiff-arm. We ran past the sales team and down the stairs before getting stopped at the elevator lobby. As we waited, I could feel the vomit churning in my gut. We were laughing, which I immediately regretted because everytime I laughed I took a deep breath of the foul air in.
Finally, we got in the elevator. This was even worse. We made retching noises and our eyes watered. The smell was unbelievable, not unlike what I imagine dead body could be. The elevator stopped halfway down, an unforseen twist of fate. Two fashionistas got on, and before they could turn and run, were confronted by the cold, hard closing of the elevator doors. The ad guy choked, still holding the rotting milk at arms like. I covered my face with my hands, willing it to stop. The girls gasped, and the ad guy felt bad, so he showed them the date on the milk. Their disgust barely registered on their faces, as they were overcome with the urge to dispell the day’s lunch.
When the elevator hit the lobby we ran outside.
“What do we do with it?!” the ad guy shouted. We were hysterical. People were looking.
“Dump it out! We have to see!” And now we were giddy. The combination was lethal.
The ad guy shook the milk and my giggles turned into squeals. I opened the carton and grimaced, then the ad guy began to pour out the milk in the sandy square that housed a soon-to-be-dead tree. The liquid was cloudy-clear and putrid.
“It looks like lemonade!” the ad guy whispered, and we watched in silent awe as the fluid tunneled through the sand.
Then a clunk. A giant mound of solid feta cheese like white turd fell into the sand.
It was too much. We dissolved into laughter, clutching the carton and holding our faces, knealt down on the sidewalk giggling like two maniacs. A pigeon flew over and started eating the white chunk. We were crying. Just then the 40 NYU students walked by, staring at us and pointing before holding their noses and making groaning noises.
The milk story was over, and it was going to be a great afternoon.