We've all seen the commercials.
I came to his house and knocked. To my surprise nobody came to let me in, but instead I heard a "Come in!" from the other side of the door. I turned the knob and walked into his house. The ammonia-like smell of cat urine was immediately overwhelming, and I could see the litter box on the floor. It was in desperate need of being changed and cleaned, and it sat right there in the main room under the picture window. Very little light was let in, but not because the window was covered by fancy drapes. Instead, the giant window was cloaked with those white generic window blinds that you can buy at Wal-Mart for $4.39. "I'm back here!" said the same voice that invited me in and I worked my way towards it. I went into the next room and there was Mr. Goldsmith.
"Hi," I said. "I'm Gooseneck!" I reached out my hand and he took it and gave it a light squeeze.
"Nice to meet you," he responded. "Excuse my mess, I am not much for cleaning."
The smell was overwhelming and the house didn't have any of the exquisite features I had envisioned it having. There was no art on the walls except for a few drawings of what looked like stick people and stick cats. There were no women flanking Mr. Goldsmith, nor was there a zebra skinned couch or a hint of sweet tobacco smoke in the air. Just that putrid rotten smell of cat piss. The man certainly wasn't dressed like the most interesting man in the world. He was wearing grey sweatpants and a blue t-shirt that said Members Only on it. He was watching America's Funniest Videos on his television, which wasn't even modern. It was an old Sony model with a 26 inch screen. Aside form the television on a stand there wasn't any other furniture in the room except for the chair he was sitting in. He invited me to bring in chair from the kitchen which was in the next room over, and I did. The smell of cat piss was burning my eyes.
"So what brings you to small town Iowa?" I asked him.
"Oh not much really." was his only reply... And that's how it went for most of the time I was there. The conversation was very one-sided, even awkward at times, and it was always me who instigated it when it occurred.
"Got grand kids?" I asked, pointing to the pictures of the stick figures on the wall.
"No." he said. Then silence.
"So what do you do for excitement?" I asked, expecting an extravagant response.
"Not much really," he answered.
He didn't at any time offer me a cold Dos Equis, nor a martini, nor a sloe gin fizz, nor even a glass of Japanese Sake'. In fact he didn't offer me anything to drink, and from the looks of it there wasn't much to offer. The kitchen was as messy as the rest of his house, with every dish he owned sitting in the sink or on the counter next to it. There was a half empty gallon of milk sitting on the counter also, which looked like it had been there for a few days as the milk looked more like a solid than it did a fluid. I'm sure it would have stunk had I been able to smell it... By now my nose was running form the ammonia vapors emitting from the cat box.
After just a few minutes I realized something that was totally unexpected. I was in the house of Jonathan Goldsmith, a man who had dined with kings and queens, who sailed a small sail boat across the Arctic Sea, whose mother had "SON" tattooed on her arm... And I was bored out of my fucking mind.
The smell of cat piss was so bad that I started to get a serious migraine. From the looks of that box there should have been about 30 cats in the house. There was enough compost there to fertilize Eastern China, and the stench was so powerful that it was causing the lights to dim. But the entire time I was there I did not see a single feline.
After about 20 minutes of awkward conversation dominated by silence, I decided it was time to go. I had resorted to holding my breath while sitting inside the house because I wasn't sure at which ratio ammonia and oxygen becomes lethal. Leaving was just as awkward as being there, and essentially I just told him that I better be going. He nodded and thanked me for stopping by.
"I don't get much company, " he said.
I thanked him for his time, made it back to his front door and stepped outside. The smell of oxygen hitting my nostrils was instant relief. Never mind that it's impact hit me with the force of a two-by-four, it just felt great to breathe again...