There are few things more gut-wrenchingly rank than off-milk.
In a world full of rotten tastes, smells and textures, no other substance offends all the senses with quite the same wickedness as off-milk.
Its sour smell. Its chunky, lumpy consistency. That uniquely minging, yougurty taste.
Ever jiggled a jar of off-milk and listened to its curdled contents swoosh around inside?
There are well-mannered serial killers that would inspire less revulsion.
Sorry for turning your guts, but this is cathartic for me.
See, the reason I bring up the utter repulsiveness of off-milk is because I am only after taking a few mouthfuls of some. Literally about ten minutes before I started typing up this column, I took two- to-three swallows of the stuff.
And, yes, your eyes do not deceive you, I did say two to three. It was off, but not that off.
Unfortunately, sometimes with just slightly off-milk it takes a few seconds before your taste buds – and their olfactory equivalents – clock that the stuff they are swimming in is definitely, beyond a shadow of a doubt, off.
It must be one of the cruel quirks of evolution that, because spoiled milk cannot kill you, our senses have not developed to immediately recognise, register and resist attempts to ingest it.
Instead, you discover in stages.
“This is milk… This is weird milk… There is something not right about this… Blughhhh!” At least this is how my most recent realisation that I was drinking dirty milk dawned on me. Rotten.
But today’s experience was not the worst I have ever had with turned milk. I wish it was.
But it wasn’t.
My most vile memory of imbibing that rancid bacterial broth occurred one traumatic morning about two years ago.
I’ll tell ye about it.
Besieged by one of the most oppressive hangovers in human history, I came hobbling through the front door of the house, my body bent in two by the brain-busting headache that thumped inside my skull.
Hinged at the hips, an almost perfect right angle formed between my stomach and legs, I proceeded across the hall, through the kitchen, and made my way towards the fridge.
“Ahhhhhhhh…” I winced, beginning to entertain ideas that my suffering was too intense to be the result of excess alcohol, and instead must be the beginning of something more sinister.
A sorry sight, stooped and groaning, I hoked through the fridge for something to wash down a few painkillers.
“Yeo,” I exclaimed, at a volume incongruent with my hangover, causing my head to hurt all the more. However, spurred on by the fluke discovery of fizzy juice in my generally juiceless fridge, I lifted a bottle of Lucozade out and boldy stood up straight.
In defiance of the migraine bearing down on me, I reached valiantly into the medicine cupboard, and pulled out a box of paracetemol.
Freeing a healthy handful from the sleeve, I opened my gob, tossed them back, and felt the chalky bullets stick like velcro to my cotton mouth.
Twisting the lid of the Lucozade bottle, I noticed a total absence of fizz.
“Sure flat Lucozade never killed anybody,” I said to myself, raising the bottle to my lips, titling my head back, and letting its contents flow into my mouth.
Immediately, with a satisfying splash, the pills were washed free from my tongue. Gladly, I swallowed them down.
Like a drought-striken islander lapping water from a well, I guzzled down a few more big, greedy gulps.
Then it hit me.
The coldness of the liquid, the dryness of my mouth, and the fact that the sour milk had been secreted within a bloody Lucozade bottle, had served to totally fool my tastebuds.
By some sort of sick, twisted subterfuge, about five gulps (half a Lucozade bottle) of off-milk had made its way past my lips, down my throat, and into my extremely volatile guts.
To describe what happened next would be a breach of editorial policy.
However, let’s just say, it was not only Ireland’s river that ran free that day.
Jesus, it was awful.
Off-milk, you’re the devil.
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