The Legend of the Smelly Italian

As promised the last time, I’d like to share some more memories of college life. Given that high school was something that most people would like to blot out of their memories entirely, stories of college life are the most commonly told around here (I’m not going to get into the Maitre d’, the Grillmaster, and their experiences with the Gallon Challenge). They may be lame and portray humanity as nothing more than a bunch of hairless apes (which, to be fair, we are – unless you believe in creationism or the Tooth Fairy or other such myths), but they’re my stories, dammit, and have shaped me into the horrendous loser that I am today. Look at me, for God’s sake – I’m writing for this site. This site’s nothing but a pathetic cry for help. Or maybe attention – I forget which.

Cries for attention aside, the names of the participants in these crimes against nature and humanity have been changed to protect the guilty. That’s right, the guilty. As I’ve said before, no one is innocent.

Where to start this time? I said earlier that I was going to start with the Smelly Italian (who shall remain nameless, because, well, he might just do some ego-Googling and find this if I did, and the last thing I want is him to try to contact me). If you’ll bear with me, I’ll put that on hold for a moment in favor of backtracking to the destruction of the freshman dorm.

First, let me say that neither I nor any of my friends were involved in the vandalism. I’m not just saying that out of some fear that the school administration might track us down after all these years and charge us $10 for our share of a busted-up loo. After all, I’m about to confess our hand in some pretty damned stupid and much more humiliating things than bowling with beer bottles. We’re all guilty of something, just not that.

Anyway, while all of the redneck rampages were taking place, some of us slightly less normal people whose tastes didn’t run toward petty destruction of property came up with another idea for having fun. We ended up buying water guns. I’m not sure who bought the first one, but it evolved from tiny squirt pistols to huge chaingun-sized Super Soakers with three settings (Spray, Gush, and You Get To Drink From the Fire Hose). Soon we had a half-dozen guys running around the dorm, spraying each other down.

During one of the impromptu water gun fights that took place while we were skipping class, we ran by one of the very same rednecks who had a hand in destroying the dorm’s fixtures and generally making everyone else’s lives miserable. Would you like to know what he said (with all seriousness in his voice) when he saw us run by carrying water guns the size of M-60s?

“Grow up. You guys are so immature.”

That’s right, folks. The Irony Meter just hit the red line at the end of the display, and it’s pinging like nobody’s business. I’m also surprised that he managed a word of more than two syllables. It must’ve been on Sesame Street that morning.

Issues of dorm destruction aside, I did promise I’d share the story of the Smelly Italian, so here we go. The Smelly Italian (using his rank in place of his name here – and boy, was he rank) wasn’t actually Italian at all. He was from New Jersey, which really should come as no big surprise, given that it’s the only place in the Union to have an official state smell. He was, however, of Italian descent, and sometimes acted like a bad extra in a mobster movie. You know, the guy who stands behind the don with a really bad suit and begs the boss to let him whack someone. Despite being something of a walking stereotype, at the time he was a decent enough guy, and we mostly got along.

The issue was with his hygiene. Or lack of hygiene, I should say. He constantly had a faint odor about him, something best described as a mixture of onions and BO. His hair was always greasy and so full of gel that if you smoked near him, his head might spontaneously combust.

The problem lay not in the fact that he didn’t bathe (and let’s face it, college guys do sometimes skip the showers), but in the apparent fact that no one ever told him that he should use soap or shampoo. I know that he showered, because every morning he would return from the bathroom wet. Drops of water would bead up on his hair from all the oil.

The Smelly Italian also had some housekeeping issues. For example, instead of hanging up his wet towels like any normal person, he would put them in the closet. Apparently no one ever taught him about mildew.

He also constantly had a foot-high pile of clothes on the floor. When I asked him about when he was going to do the laundry in the floor, he said, “That’s the clean clothes.” Where were the dirty ones, you may ask? The dirty clothes were in his dresser drawers. Maybe he was from Bizarro World, except that Bizarro World’s New Jersey probably smells like lilacs and clean linens instead of onion and BO.

You don't want to know.
The Smelly Italian on the left,
Smokestack on the right.
Proof that the Chef was there.

A few months later, after I moved out and into a single room (with adequate ventilation, of course), I was sitting around chewing the fat with another friend who I’ll call Smokestack (because at the time he never went anywhere without a lit cigarette in his hand). The Smelly Italian calls and asks if he can use my computer (keep in mind that this was back in the days when not everyone had one and my old Pentium 60 was just obsolete and not laughably obsolete). He’d been getting on out nerves for some reason I’ve since forgotten, so Smokestack was less than happy when he heard the Smelly Italian was coming over.

Smokestack looked at me with a demented grin on his face. Come to think of it, that was always how he smiled. It made him look like an escaped mental patient. “Let’s just leave,” he says to me.

“Leave?” The simplicity of Smokestack’s evil plan left me dumbfounded.

We ran out the door, fumbling for the keys to my truck (at the time, I was driving a shitty old S-10). As we’re unlocking the doors and getting in, the Smelly Italian was coming up the sidewalk. He didn’t see us, despite passing not fifteen feet from us as we pulled out of the parking lot, slinging gravel and putting dust into the air.

The Smelly Italian was maybe not real bright, as we say in Tennessee.

My room may have been left empty, but that didn’t stop him. I heard from the guy next door that the Smelly Italian walked up to my door and knocked. After a minute or two, he knocked again. The Smelly Italian persevered and called to the empty room, “I know you’re in there. I can hear you moving around.”

My neighbor politely informed him that we had just left. The Smelly Italian spent the next little bit wandering around campus looking for us. We drove by him twice, honking the horn and waving out of the windows. He never noticed us.

The Smelly Italian was, however, actually a friend and probably not as awful as I’m making him out to be here. He was also part of a little affair called Dead Air Time, which will be the third part of this little trifecta of evil memories. Until next time, keep that Febreeze handy.

About The Chef

The Chef was born 856 years ago on a small planet orbiting a star in the Argolis cluster. It was prophesied that the arrival of a child with a birthmark shaped like a tentacle would herald the planet's destruction. When the future Chef was born with just such a birthmark, panic ensued (this would not be the last time the Chef inspired such emotion). The child, tentacle and all, was loaded into a rocket-powered garbage scow and launched into space. Unfortunately, the rocket's exhaust ignited one of the spectators' flatulence, resulting in a massive explosion that detonated the planet's core, destroying the world and killing everyone on it.

The Chef.
Your host, hero to millions, the Chef.
Oblivious, the dumpster containing the infant Chef sped on. It crashed on a small blue world due to a freakish loophole in the laws of nature that virtually guarantees any object shot randomly into space will always land on Earth. The garbage scow remained buried in the icy wastes of the frozen north until the Chef awoke in 1901. Unfortunately, a passing Norwegian sailor accidentally drove a boat through his head, causing him to go back to sleep for another 23 years.

When the would-be Chef awoke from his torpor, he looked around at the new world he found himself on. His first words were, “Hey, this place sucks." Disguising himself as one of the planet's dominant species of semi-domesticated ape, the being who would become known as the Chef wandered the Earth until he ended up in its most disreputable slum - Paris, France.

Taking a job as a can-can dancer, the young Chef made a living that way until one day one of the cooks at a local bistro fell ill with food poisoning (oh, bitter irony). In a desperate move, the bistro's owner rushed into one of the local dance halls, searching for a replacement. He grabbed the ugliest can-can dancer he could find, and found himself instead with an enterprising (if strange) young man who now decided, based on this random encounter, to only answer to the name “Chef".

His success as a French chef was immediate (but considering that this is a country where frogs and snails are considered delicacies, this may or may not be a significant achievement). Not only was the Chef's food delicious, it also kept down the local homeless population. He rose to the heights of stardom in French cuisine, and started a holy war against the United Kingdom to end the reign of terror British food had inflicted on its citizens.

When the Crimean War broke out around France, the Chef assisted Nikola Tesla and Galileo in perfecting the scanning electron microscope, which was crucial in driving back the oncoming Communist hordes. It would later be said that without the Chef, the war would have been lost. He was personally awarded a Purple Heart by the King of France.

After that, the Chef traveled to America, home of such dubious culinary delights as McDonald's Quarter Pounder With Cheese. He immediately adopted the Third World nation as his new home, seeing it as his job to protect and enlighten it. When the Vietnam War began, he immediately volunteered and served in the Army of the Potomac under Robert E. Lee and General Patton. During the war, the Chef killed dozens of Nazis, most of them with his bare hands.

Marching home from war across the floor of the Atlantic Ocean, stark-naked and freezing, the Chef wound up on the shores of Mexico. He spent several years there, drinking tequila with Pancho Villa and James Dean. He put his culinary skills to the test when he invented the 5,000-calorie Breakfast Chili Burrito With Orange Sauce (which is today still a favorite in some parts of Sonora).

Eventually, the Chef returned to his adopted home of America, where he met a slimy, well-coiffed weasel who was starting up a new kind of buffet - one dedicated to providing the highest-quality unmentionable appetizers to the online community. The Chef dedicated himself to spreading the word of his famous Lard Sandwich (two large patties of fried lard, in between two slices of toasted buttered lard, with bacon and cheese), as well as occasionally writing about his opinions on less-important topics than food.

Every word of this is true, if only in the sense that every word of this exists in the English language.