I finally realized why I associate Ricardo Montalban with the smell of shit. For years I couldn’t figure it out. I loved watching Fantasy Island. Most people would talk about Herve Villachez’s positive portrayal of a little person, but I loved Ricardo’s suave Mr. Roarke. Each week I watched the show and each week he took me on a wild adventure, and not an adventure associated with defecation.
So where did this Montalban/excrement olfactory link come from, where and when did it originate? Thinking back, I’ve estimated it was the fall of 1984, November 2nd, that I started connecting Ricardo with the aroma of feces. The first time I recall the relationship was when I walked into a restroom in the basement of a Macy’s in Boston. I couldn’t explain why, but when the odor of customers’ turds hit me, I saw Mr. Roarke standing before me in a white suit, as if taunting me, smiling. I thought his ghost was stalking me, until I learned he was still alive in 1984.
I did extensive research on Ricardo. Did you know he was on Broadway? He played Khan in Star Trek II. I never saw it, so I can’t say that’s where I got my association. I became obsessed with figuring it out.
I went to the restroom at work one day, just after lunch, and again was confronted with my mind seeing Ricardo when the odor of someone else’s foulness hit me. Why was this happening to me? It wasn’t as if every time I smelled urine I saw Todd Bridges. Where was the one missing piece that could answer my question?
I made flow charts that led nowhere; people said I had become obsessed. I needed to take some time off work to figure it all out. I began to wear a white suit and speak with a Mexican accent. I felt like Hillary Swank training for a role, immersing myself in my character. The odd thing was, I didn’t smell shit unless I saw myself in the mirror. So, it wasn’t the personality or the spiritual presence of Montalban, it was his physical being that brought the fumes on. I was finally on to something.
For the next several months I would see how long I could look at Ricardo’s headshot before the poop perfumes started. Around Christmas time, my stamina increased to roughly 7 minutes. I continued to study everything Montalban. I joined his fan club, even attended a Nosotros meeting. Nosotros is an organization Mr. Montalban helped found. The goal of Nosotros is to improve the image of Latinos as they are portrayed in film and television. I went to the meeting and began interviewing members and inquiring if they had indeed smelled shit when they saw Mr. Montalban and would he be at the meeting? I was asked to remove myself when it was discovered I was neither Hispanic nor an actor.
I exited somewhat gracefully and staked out the meeting from my car. After three and a half hours, waiting for the last vehicle to leave, it was apparent that Mr. Montalban was just a figurehead; he did not attend the monthly meetings. I went home dejected. I looked at my watch; I was twenty minutes late for my Aunt’s annual Christmas Eve party. I rushed over to her home, replaying the day’s events in my head. No one at the meeting showed any sign of recognition when I questioned them about fecal odors and Montalban.
I decided it was time to put my search to rest and file it away in my cold case cranial file. I entered my aunt’s home, clearing my head and nasal passages, ready to have a good time.
I spent the beginning of my evening making small talk with relatives I hadn’t seen in years. You see I hadn’t attended my aunt’s festivities since I was young. People didn’t want to discuss my research on Mr. Montalban anymore. I’d grown apart from them, but was making an effort to discuss what they wanted, mundane details of everyday life. It was then, that I realized what I thought was growing apart was actually a form of posttraumatic stress disorder.
I was standing outside the bathroom when a strange smell began creeping out from underneath the door. The stink grew more and more nauseating. I knew this smell, could it be? Could it be that Montalban was in there? I began to sweat. I tried to run, but my legs couldn’t move, the smell was paralyzing. I’d finally be able to face the demon that haunted me for so long. The door swung open and before me, stood a Hispanic male, not Ricardo Montelban, but an identical look alike. My search was over, it wasn’t Ricardo Montalban that I associated with the smell of shit, it was my Aunt’s neighbor, Ben Leeds. He was a dead ringer for Montalban and had a deadly smell to match. He walked past me and I quietly said “Good Night Mr. Roarke. Good night.”
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Saturday, December 20, 2008
My dad and I had lunch today. While eating he stated how the grand kids were consuming his life. I told him to wait until they were older and got sick and needed grandpa to come pick them up from school. My dad, reflective, took a moment, then: “I’m not going to be some frail fuck waiting around to do someone else’s errand”