They say you shouldn't cry over spilled milk. But I can't help it. The stench is making my eyes water.

They say you shouldn't cry over spilled milk. But I can't help it. The stench is making my eyes water.

It took me awhile to locate the origin of the putrid odor Wednesday morning. The fumes seemed to be coming from everywhere — inside, outside, outer space.

Something must have died. Badly. Trying to control my gag reflex, I peered under the deck, picnic table and my little red car. Nothing. Hmm. Perhaps time, or buzzards, would deal with this unknown assault to my nostrils before I returned to my riverside pad in the p.m.

I hopped in the Vibe and slammed the door. Then immediately exited said vehicle with a speed usually reserved for emergencies — like when swarms of bees are chasing me, or chocolate is on the horizon.

Decidedly green about the gills, I exhaled forcefully, opened all four doors and the back hatch. Again hunting high and low, I eventually spied a white plastic sack under an old newspaper in the back seat. In it was the gallon of milk I'd purchased five hot summer days ago.

I'd asked The Englishman to carry the moo juice, and other assorted groceries, into my cottage following an early-evening excursion to the local market the prior weekend.

Putting the rest of the goodies away, I'd fleetingly wondered whether the leche had taken it on the lam. But then foolishly convinced myself that my many dire warnings to this peripatetic beau about the dangers of leaving perishable food sitting about on countertops had finally paid off.

I know. What was I thinking? Like they ever learn.

But I remained smugly assured the seeds of my incessant nagging had finally borne fruit. I further assumed that the reason I didn't actually see the milk in the fridge that night, or in subsequent days, simply meant he'd buried it somewhere in the back. Or gulped it all down that night.

The origin of the scent mystery solved, I escorted the offending bag and its noxious contents to the garbage can. And proceeded to blast down the highway with all windows and the sunroof open. I was still breathing through my mouth as I pondered the date of the purchase and the onset of stinkeroo. Apparently abandoned milk takes quite a bit of time to expand and ooze from the seams of its hermetically sealed container.

Oh, well ... a little fresh air.

Twenty minutes later, I was still about to keel over from the sour smell, and felt the need to share my pain with the man who caused it all. A brief phone call ensued.

"You stinked up my car!" I cried. "And it won't go away!"

Like most criminals, The Englishman initially denied all knowledge. He'd never carried in any groceries. He hadn't even been to my house. But I eventually broke him. And he moved into mitigation mode.

"You really should throw that milk out," he replied, in oh-so-helpful tones.

The suggestion caused my mouth to snap shut. But not for long.

"Do you honestly think I'm driving around with a quart of toxic bovine beverage in my car?"

After another couple days of futile attempts to exorcize the Ghost of Dairy Products Past from my vehicle, I became unhappily convinced the stink had taken up permanent residence in the Vibe.

I whined to a friend who suggested a product that allegedly removes odors from hospitals, morgues and crime scenes. If it removes the smell of remains, surely my little milk issue would be a breeze.

However, the tiny white tube spews its own noxious odor — and one other pesky little side effect, she warned.

"I think it might destroy brain cells," she said.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or email sspecht@mailtribune.com.