Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Hooplah: Some women smell & other thoughts

I have been subjected to several very aromatic women in the last few days in the elevator, waiting for food, walking down a hallway at work. I am sure these women bathe, or at least stand in the tub and look expectantly at the shower head hoping clean will wash over them. But they stink.

It's not even body odor around them, though it certainly hints at the edges.Can I say they are unique smells? Let's take an example.

A woman, let's call her Julia since I know no Julias, stands next to me waiting for the elevator to whisk her downstairs. We've all just come from the lunchetorium with our salads and carvery sandwiches and inexpertly made stir-fry. We carry this food in our hands, full of thoughts of eating, drinking and the sustenance and enjoyment such acts bring. What do we all hate to intrude on our dining experience? Bad odor. Julia smells, a mixture of decaying leaves and a Chinese fish monger.

And she's laughing!

Her friends must be drunk or stoned, because they too are full of merriment. Maybe it's because of the cloud of funk their friend is in. "My God, do you smell that woman?!" one whispers to the other by the fruit counter. "I know," replies the woman with water wing fat waddles hanging off her arms. "Someone should tell her..." Do they? They laugh!

It's like a story I heard somewhere,-- maybe at work or church or in the local bars I don't frequent because I'm not really that "hip" with it. A man wearing khakis and a button down, long-sleeve white shirt goes to the bathroom. He is in there for a suitable amount of time for No. 2, and exits after hand-washing and so forth. He returns to his cube space, perhaps nodding hey to the girls around him. Part of his shirt is hanging out the back, improperly tucked. And what do these same girls see, smeared like so much fresh mud across the bottom of his crisp, blanco shirt? That's right. How he did it remains a mystery to this day, but he somehow managed to twist the front of his shirt into the path of the toilet paper. Or else there was a Vesuvian burst that no one could control, much less contain, and the shirt was the least of his concerns.

But the point is thus: no one told him. He worked the rest of the day - hours, people - with poo on his untucked shirt. And so "Julia" smelled, and probably smells, because no one told her it was bad form to roll in a compost heap behind General Chang's fish bazaar. Are we sparing people the shame and embarrassment, or just getting some cruel laughter in at their pitiful expense? Hm....

"Guadalupe", another woman with a memorable bouquet about her, did not bring to mind Gorton's discards. Hers was an odd smell, sort of dry. I want to say like death, but death can be wet. But that's the best I've got. It was a faded smell, like old books you pull down from your Great Uncle Johann Frucht's shelves. When you open them, these whithered words try to escape the page at the same moment time is attempting to break down the book into dust. It slaps your septum before settling behind your eyes, that old book smell. Guadalupe had something like that, only for people,-- and she was young! Too young to smell like Uncle Johann with one foot in the grave and other in a Kleenex box because he forgot where he put his slippers.

Stink and smell hold a special place in my heart. How could they not, when I have as a pet the basset hound Neville, who sometimes releases time-delay bombs of such exquisite pungency that I question whether or not his bowels produced them or he purchased them off an ex-pat Iraqi scientist. I was talking to a co-worker about scent memory, which is very strong for me, an important part of the day-to-day. I constantly find smells triggering some random memory from years ago, and usually I'm left frustrated that I can't exactly rebuild the entire scene where that certain recollection came from. But such strong funk recall is why days after the fact, I can still recall the aromas of these women who really need some better lotions or fragrance-masking soap. Dial, for example.

I could on for hours about Dial soap and what its particular redolence means to me, but I've taken up enough of your time already.

Until we meet again, and I share my peculiar relationship with sports and how they loathe me.


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