WASHINGTON, DC—The National Weather Service has issued a severe musty-odor advisory for a majority of the U.S., as a massive front of stale, unfreshened air sweeps down from the Arctic region.
"While no state of emergency has yet been declared, we are cautioning all citizens to be on alert for problem odors which, even as we speak, are moving through the Dakotas and gaining strength as they head east," National Weather Service director James Auslander said. "These embarrassing, lingering smells show no sign of dissipating any time soon, and it is vital that Americans prepare themselves."
The wave of unfreshened air is believed to be connected to a recent "poker night" get-together in the Arctic region, complete with big, smelly cigars and a fried-fish dinner. According to Auslander, shoes were removed during the gathering, contributing foot odor to an already unpleasant front.
Working closely with Renuzit officials, the National Weather Service is taking steps to freshen the approaching air mass.
"While we can not turn back the clock and prevent this malodorous incident from taking place," Auslander said, "we can take action as soon as possible to save Americans from exposure to the resultant common household odors."
Among the emergency air-freshening measures being implemented: the planting of more than 50,000 pine-scented trees along the U.S.-Canada border; the distribution of 35 million cans of Glade Mountain Spring spray to those citizens most at risk; and Operation Airwick, a full-frontal airborne assault on the wave of stale air.
But even with all these efforts, some experts say it will likely be too little, too late. "Even if 50 million pounds of potpourri were spread across American soil, it would merely be a flowery cover-up," said James Valentine of the D.C.-based Americans For Freshness. "Ventilating and re-scenting the ecosystem will take months and bring federal votive-candle and incense resources down to near-critical levels. This nation needs fresh, pleasant air now."
"In reality," Dr. Martin Hargreaves of Cornell University said, "we would need a Stick-Up the size of Vermont to adequately address this crisis."
Across the U.S., the damaging effects of the unfreshened air are already being felt. "Yesterday, when I woke up, I wasn't greeted with the usual light, flowery breeze blowing in through my window," said Georgia Wells of St. Petersburg, FL. "Instead of a fresh rose-petal scent, I could distinctly detect a staleness in the air. It was horrible."
"As an American, if there's one thing I can't stand, it's a lack of freshness," Marcia Palmer of Sunnyvale, CA, said. "That's why this current crisis is so terrible. Cigar smoke, fish odor, smelly old sweatsocks—it's all too much to bear."
Palmer then wrinkled her nose and added, "Oh, I see the Arctic Circle still has that cat."
Responding to the public outcry, President Clinton has pledged to work with the National Weather Service toward the goal of having the nation completely aired out by the end of next week. The president also acknowledged that his interest in solving the problem is to some degree personal.
"Next Friday, I will be hosting an important state dinner, at which there will be numerous foreign dignitaries," Clinton said. "If these high-level diplomats arrived with the United States smelling like old sneakers and tell-tale pet odors, I am certain I would just die. I could never show my face at a world summit again."