Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Smell

I do not have a very good sense of smell. I can smell the important things like the ocean and cinnamon, but, for the most part, when someone makes an “ewww” face and asks “Can you smell that?” I am of little use. There is, however a smell that penetrates even my limited threshold. Like John Carpenter’s movie “The Fog” the cocktail of smells brewed by the man-boys that reside in my house threatens to assume me into it’s haze of toxicity on a daily basis.

Two boys, a husband, even the dog is a boy; I am literally out-manned on the aroma front at home. As women go, I’m not the girliest of girls, especially where scent is involved. I have a battery of perfumes that collect dust because they make me sneeze and, let’s face it, I’ve been married for 18 years, the seduction is over. I only recently got into bodywashes because they were on sale at Bath & Body Works, but my morning ritual does not hinge on the thought of the effect that that whiff of Sea Island Cotton will render in the innocent bystanders who are lucky enough to pass through my wake. And, I am, perhaps, the only woman on the planet who does not swoon for scented candles. So, once again, I am not an odor whimp.

But occasionally the Smell does threaten my existence. I capitalize it because its insinuation into our lifestyle demands personification. Like some superhero Arch Villain it grows in strength with the acquisition of each piquant odor it comes in contact with. I suppose it started innocently enough when one of my sweet and innocent boys, fresh off a triumphant fly ball catch on the baseball diamond, carelessly tossed off his cleats in the living room. And the Smell was unleashed, like a babe full of curiosity in a strange land it leapt into the fibers of a nearby carpet and embarked on the adventure of a lifetime.

It matured quickly, acquiring strength from the sweaty basketball shirt that was hastily discarded on the couch and the Nike elite socks that got trapped under the chair, for fear of inhibiting teenager 1’s freedom and shackling him to the confines of hamper rules. The Smell, now drunk on the elixir of sweat and foot odor, voraciously sought out the intoxicating power of unwashed dog, damp bath towel on the floor, stinky sweaty beloved baseball cap, and the subtle delicacies of crushed Dorito crumbs embedded deep in any cushion of any seating apparatus.

No longer content to roam the house on its own, the Smell, began living as a sycophant, latching onto whatever teenage boy passed by, and undermining seemingly pleasant odors, designed to combat the Smell’s very existence. But no, the Smell laughed at the feeble attempts by Axe and whatever cologne was on sale at Christmas, and instead combined their rakish flavors into its collective getting stronger and more powerful with each acquisition.

Were this a commercial for Lysol or Fantastik, this would be the moment when I entered wielding the sprays and a mighty dustcloth in mock superhero fashion to conquer said Smell in my stylish capris and non-threatening button down shirt (because who doesn’t where crisp freshly laundered clothes to clean?). But this tale does not have a cute pat Hollywood ending.

The Smell and I exist in a perpetual showdown. We have mutual respect for our powers and weaknesses. I’d be a fool and liar to pretend that I do not contribute to the Smell. We dance a subtle two step, the Smell and I. Sometimes I lead and the Smell shrinks and acquiesces with my every twist and turn. Sometimes the Smell is my Fred Astaire, and I am putty in his powerful hands. Yet I refuse to be completely assimilated. I will, as the sole female in the house, continue my quest to raise respectful, acceptably clean and pleasant smelling children, husbands and dogs.

So pull up a chair Smell, mix a sweat and Axe martini. We made you, and we will not back down in this ongoing Darwinian battle of wills

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