A very serious investigation of the smells of Jordan Hall

Collegian File Photo.

ZACHARY GOSSETT | OPINION COLUMNIST | zgossett@butler.edu

I have never been renowned for my senses. They are indeed inadequate in most instances. My sight is plagued with myopia, and to make matters worse, the right eye is blurred by an astigmatism. My palate is not refined: I likely ruined all gustation through sodium-saturated ramen and scalding black coffee. I lack tactile sensibility, failing to distinguish a rough surface from a smooth one, and I am horrified by the touch of another. My auditory perception is so poor that I can hardly differentiate octaves, let alone pitches.

Yet, there is seemingly one sense that I may trust.

Upon my daily entry into Jordan Hall, I am confronted with an array of scents. These prominent sensations permeate the halls and classrooms, and I cannot help but notice them. I am convinced that these aromas are but an intrinsic quality of this hall, and I have decided to elucidate the character of a few smells to our readership.

The ambiance of decay

Without doubt, the prevailing scent of Jordan is that of decay. These creaking floors, doors and halls cannot help but emit the fragrance of their age. Through regular leaks and decomposition, no corner is left free of the stale, damp air. It is heavy, resting on my chest like fog on water.

In the dusty, stained carpet, this stench tells the stories of years past. I imagine lingering remnants of classes preceding my arrival at Butler — and preceding my birth, for that matter. I am reminded of my first day here, when I was first suspended in this timeline of aromas. Now, overwhelmed by the scent of age, I am contemplating timelessness.

This odor confronts the traveler at the door, often inspiring a headache or discomfort. These thoughts are too much to bear when concerned with our mortal coil.

The whiff of pizza pie

In dreadful moments of irony, I tend to catch a whiff of elusive free pizza whenever I forgo lunch or dinner for assignments or class. The elaborate intersection of melted cheese, baked bread and toasted pepperoni tickles my nose and sends tremors down my stomach. I am swept away with desire. I gather my possessions to begin my search, looking into classrooms and departments, checking my email for invitations. Eventually, I settle in a new location, calling off my search, for my lust for cheap pizza is unsatisfied — foiled by the labyrinthine halls of Jordan once again.

The stench of wet dawgs

On wet days, a different smell dominates that of decay. Usually, the scent of wet hair and clothes is contained to the stairs’ apex, yet the rain allows it to cloud each entry, dragging this must through the corridors. I cannot help but crinkle my nose and think of high school locker rooms. The carpet in the halls and classrooms traps this odor, swallowing the building into a mood of somber despair, followed by the rain’s inevitable return in a day or two.

The reek of old restrooms

I reserve entering Jordan’s restrooms for times of sheer necessity because I loath each second within. The easily-overwhelmed old pipes combined with irregular flushing and — how should I phrase this? — poor aim has ensured that these rooms are tainted by foul odors. Upon entry, I am overwhelmed, compelled to close my eyes as my nostrils are annihilated by the stench of stagnant water and stale urine. I am obliged to hold my breath for fear of the potential damage inflicted on my olfactory apparatus.

The aroma of poison

This last scent is difficult to distinguish, and it often leaves me perplexed. I may only catch traces as I roam the halls. Nonetheless, on occasion, I am troubled by a sharp sensation that rapidly passes through my nose to rest at the bottom of my lungs. Once it arrives, the breath lingers without odor, seemingly trapped in my respiratory system. It is only expelled hours after I depart.

In plain terms, this smell is troubling, and in my investigation I was determined to discover its origin, but — alas! — I have failed. Yet, I have deemed it poison because I worry about its consequences. During my scrutiny, I grew concerned about the vulnerability of my olfactory apparatus. In my dedication, had I exposed myself to some overseeable danger? I pondered aloud whether this could be asbestos, but after research, I discovered it to be odorless. I remain disturbed, and convinced of the inadequacy of olfactory investigation alone. Perhaps further analysis is in store. Until then, however, I hope that no person matches my folly — I would advise that no other soul see to sniffing the halls of Jordan.

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