to smell the truth

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Despite snorting boatloads of chemicals up in my nose, I have a freaky sense of smell. Like  I can whiff out the scent of a new shower curtain behind closed doors kind of freaky. I’ve left movies because of the scent of perfume worn by the person in front of me, refused to patron stores with overwhelming scents (yeah, I’m talking to you Bed Bath and Beyond in Burbank which smells like a potpourri hate crime) and can have old memories triggered by scents. I’m like Superman except with smell and I can’t fly. And I don’t look good in tights. Okay I’m nothing like Superman but I am a guy who recently caught a whiff of what my past used to smell like. And it was nasty.

stankfaceFirst a flashback to Los Angeles, 2005. My old hungover walk the dog routine was a simple one. Slam water and Advil, grab the dog and head to my Echo Park Starbucks which was inside of a laundromat and next to a Subway. Only in LA. Having lived in that hood for the better part of a decade, it wasn’t unusual for me to run into to people I knew. One morning, I ran into a drinking buddy I also waited tables with. Upon hugging her, she told me “Oh my god. You smell like the floor of a bar.”  The nerve! It should also be noted that this person wore rose oil and patchouli therefore for me to stink to high heaven must have been pretty impressive.  I drank tequila and smoked a pack of cigarettes every day so I’m sure I wasn’t exactly a garden of earthly delights for passersby to enjoy like they would night blooming jasmine or a rosemary bush. My first thought was, “There’s no way I smell.” I mean I had tons of cologne and overpriced body wash specially applied in Persian prince-like quantities to avoid ever wreaking  like a bar floor. But there it was evidence that I smelled as bad as I drank. Still, I didn’t ever really believe it. I mean heavy drinking doesn’t actually have a smell does it?

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After accidentally standing downwind from an acquaintance who likes to “regularly tie one on” (her words) I think there might just be an eau de bar floor. The smell was one of stale cigarettes and cheap wine. I’m guessing here. Or maybe I’m absolutely right. Remember, I once correctly identified  the scent of a Whopper inside of a friends backpack so let’s just assume I’m probably close. Unlike the time when I smelled cocaine on a blonde girl with teased hair on a really long and nauseating elevator ride, however, this olfactory incident didn’t make me want to puke. No, it was one of those “Oh yeah! I remember smelling like that!” Even though I previously denied my drunken hobo aroma. I thought it was just the other drunk people who I hung out with that stunk. This recent whiff of “what it was like” confirms that funky drunken scent was indeed coming from me.

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But let’s be clear here. This is a different kind of funk than that “empty the back of the bus,  doused myself in Steel Reserve and slept in my own puke” smell. That’s at least honest. No, my stench was bar floor covered by gallons of fragrances and lotions. But if we’re talking chemically and root of origin, both smells are the same regardless of how you cover it up. (Insert your own witty analogy of Glade cinnamon apple room deodorizer and toilets here.) As I write this I’m an inoffensive mix of coffee, Degree deodorant and fresh t-shirt. And as long as I remember to shower and don’t cook curry, my olfactory imprint is a light one for the most part these days. Or maybe it isn’t. Maybe I have weird funk coming from me that I can’t smell. And that’s okay too. But at least for today, I know that I don’t stink like a bar floor. Now, please enjoy this Windsong commercial.  And let’s all try to enjoy life too, shall we? Even in the stinky parts.

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5 thoughts on “to smell the truth

  1. I can relate.

    I used to be one of those guys who thought that vodka didn’t smell. Oh yeah, sure, maybe if you’re in a wind tunnel powered by Febreeze jet propellers. Even then I think you’d catch a whiff of desperation and fraternity carpet. I don’t know how I didn’t get busted more by others when I was ripe with l’eau d’Absolut. And of course, add in the fact that bathing was often at the low end of the priority scale (I still hadn’t found a way to drink in the shower yet) and you had “hobo” emanating from me. Ugh.

    These days, I can smell consumed alcohol on someone half a block away I think. Sure it’s easy to catch a whiff of an open container of alcohol, but sometimes I can smell ol’ Wino Jack or Franky Frat Boy or Jazzed up Jesse Juvenile walking towards me down the street and almost tell you what they’ve drank. The cinnamonny goodness of Liquid Cocaines, or the sour musty aroma of whisky or the general belchy barley of beer. Not something to be proud of, like your keen sense of smell there, but it’s just a byproduct of consuming way too much of all that stuff and getting that momentary whiff of yourself the next morning and wondering how many Ventis it will take to remove that musk.

    Great post!

    Blessings,
    Paul

  2. Many years ago, I was asked to fill in for someone who called in sick. They needed someone as quick as possible, and since I had showered the day before, I skipped a shower. I did put on a spritz of Avon’s Timeless and my uniform. I worked hard, and at the end of the shift was standing at the chart rack finishing up some notes. A doctor came by and stood a foot or so away to work on his charts. Now this was back in the day when I was young and still had a decent figure. We said our simple hellos. After a moment he glanced over at me and went back to his chart. A moment later he glanced again. By this time I’m thinking I should have taken a shower. I must really stink. He went back to his chart and I was rushing to get down so I could escape. He looked at me again, this time saying, “You smell really nice. What kind of cologne are you wearing?”
    I was floored–not what I was expecting at all. And, yes, I still wear it and “Design”. Those are the only two colognes I use.

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