"EEEEEEEEW! What stinks?"
That's the question my daughter is asking as she marches into the den, her face screwed up like a fist, and begins staring at me in an accusatory manner.
I am lying on the couch in a sincere and humanitarian effort to watch the sports highlights to determine whether any of the NHL players on my office hockey pool team have remembered how to score.
"Don't look at me," I tell my daughter, who, if anything, begins glaring more intensely. "I can't smell a thing."
I am not lying about that. That's because I am a guy, and guys are trained from the day they are born NOT to notice unpleasant smells, or, if they do, to take great personal satisfaction from them.
We are as unskilled at noticing fragrance molecules as we are at figuring out what it is we have recently done that has made our spouses so unreasonably angry, if you can imagine.
Even if you put our couches and big-screen televisions in the middle of a working slaughterhouse, most guys would be content, provided they still had easy access to cold beer and the TV remote control.
In contrast, women -- and this would include my daughter -- can detect scent particles at the microbial level and will not rest until they track down the source of a foul odour, even if -- and guys always find this hard to believe -- it is located at the very back of the refrigerator.
So my daughter wants to track down where the offending stench is coming from, and she feels I have a responsibility to aid in the search.
For obvious reasons, this makes no sense, but as a sensitive modern parent I agree to help out, so the search team consists of my daughter and myself, a man who could pull a pair of mouldy sweat socks from the bottom of a gym bag after three months and pronounce them "springtime-fresh."
In cases such as this, the dogs are the prime suspects. Our dogs are not above depositing gifts at the back door if someone is not around to let them out, or if they are just too tired to move and their gastrointestinal systems spontaneously explode. At the moment, however, they are sound asleep.
Eventually, my daughter's nose leads to the front hallway, where our fall jackets are hung on a rickety coat tree. "It's coming from around here," she declares, gagging loudly to emphasize her point.
Then, using her nose, she subjects the coats in the hallway to the kind of intense microscopic inspection one hopes terrorists have to endure when they try to scuttle through airline security.
"What's THAT?" she finally asks, pointing a finger at my fancy new red Gore-Tex jacket.
"That's my new jacket," I reply proudly.
"NO!" she snorts. "What's sticking out of your jacket pocket?"
I take a closer look and -- AHA! -- discover a familiar-looking plastic bag peeking out of the pocket. If you are a dog owner, you already know what was inside this plastic bag.
In legal terms, I am guilty with an explanation. You see, we own two small dogs -- a lazy miniature wiener dog, Zoe, who insists on being toted like a football whenever we go for a walk, and a furry white dog, Mr. X, who resembles an experimental sheep and can roam for hours.
In mid-walk, when the furry white dog decides to do his business -- an event that occurs at least three times on a standard outing -- I am forced to scoop the poop like an Olympic gymnast, bending over and holding the wiener dog under one arm, while clutching Mr. X's leash AND deploying the plastic bag with the other hand.
The bag and its odiferous contents are then tucked into a jacket pocket for safekeeping until we return to home base, where, when I am in my right mind, I remember to fling it to the far side of the garage.
In this case, however, I apparently had more important matters on my mind, so both the jacket and the pocketed poop were hung up in our hallway, a time bomb waiting to run afoul of my daughter's powerful olfactory sense.
So I pull the bag out for my daughter to see. "Eeeeeew!" she squeals, recoiling in disgust, before adding: "You know, one day you are going to go to some fancy dinner and you will have poo in your pocket."
Ignoring the insult, I dig deeper into the jacket and, surprise, pull out an old package of mints. "Would you like one?" I ask in fatherly tones.
The look of disgust on my daughter's face deepens. "You really stink!" she sniffs.
"Well, you're the expert," I reply, and head back to the couch.