When I was nine, some of the neighborhood kids and I spent a whole summer together. We would play massive rounds of hide and seek, endless card games and many other fun activities. But our most favourite thing to do was go over to Jesse and Lizzie’s house when their mom was at work to make “swamp water”. Swamp water was basically combining every type of disgusting liquid we could find (other than the poisonous ones) and then daring someone to drink it. Recipes would include Tabasco sauce, a burst open cod liver oil pill, a raw egg, maple syrup, etc. It usually took us so much time to make the swamp water that it wasn’t really a let down when the person dared to drink it would inevitably refuse or take a sip and immediately spit it out. (It should be noted that we briefly dabbled with “swamp food”, but that proved more difficult and required too many resources to go unnoticed to Jesse and Lizzie’s Mom.)

Once I got a little older, swamp water became the concoction created by taking just a TINY bit of each bottle of liquor in my friend Kristine’s dad’s liquor cabinet. Not enough that he would ever notice but enough that we felt weird when we drank it. (I realize now that the “weirdness” we felt when we drank it wasn’t “drunkenness”, it was “illness”. So gross.)

I hadn’t reminisced about these disgusting swamp water experiences until I read about this story.

Recently, Dutch artists Lernert and Sander have created their own version of swamp water; they have combined samples of every fragrance released in 2012 and called it “Everything”. The comically large glass bottle of “Everything” is on display at a French store/exhibition space called “Colette”, located in Paris, from March 1-9, 2013. People can visit to smell “Everything” for themselves. Some people have said that it smells like Chanel No. 5; others have said it’s simply like the generic and potent wall of scent that you encounter in any department store cosmetic area.

How many scents were created last year? 1400. In a society where it seems like even a background actor in a regional T-Mobile commercial can release his own signature fragrance, 1400 still seems staggering to me. Are there even that many possible combinations of scent? Don’t some of them have to be duplicates solely by the rules of probability?!

If you ask me, even 1400 scents couldn’t mask the stench that was 2012. Think about the metaphorical swamp water we can make with the news lowlights from last year.

Start with some rain water from Hurricane Sandy, add in some liquid oppression of the women in Pussy Riot, a sprinkling of legitimate rape, a dash of mass shootings and already we’ve got a really stinky concoction happening.

Then you add in the tragedies of Amanda Todd and Trayvon Martin. The Sandy Hook and Colorado Movie Theatre shootings. The 2012 Delhi gang rape case. The nurse who took her life following a prank phone call about Kate Middleton. Jerry Sandusky.

The list just seems to go on and on.

I recognize that sadly, there are horrific things that happen every day of every year. But 2012 feels like it’s in its own category. If you ask me, 2012 smells like hopelessness.

So maybe this year we should all focus on trying to make the world better. Even if it’s just in tiny ways. And if all else fails, and things still feel hopeless there’s always the footage of Marco Rubio awkwardly drinking from that water bottle to cheer us up.

WRITER’S NOTE: When researching for this article, I came across this on a list of memorable events in 2012:

Jun 12th 2012 – An Australian coroner’s report rules that a dingo was responsible for the death of a baby in 1980.

That ruling was a long-time coming. I’m sure the dingo’s family was devastated by the news.

Featured image via Shutterstock