I’ve recently become afflicted with old man smell. I’m going to assume you know what I mean by that and just plow ahead with my story. This is going to get pretty gross, so what I’m going to do is babble for a little bit here about how gross it’s going to get so you have a few minutes to think about how badly you want to read this and have plenty of time to bail out before any serious psychological damage has been done, because once you read this it cannot be unread.
If you’re still here, I’m going to assume it’s okay to press on. Any time you spend on your analyst’s couch trying to talk-therapy your way out of what follows is your own responsibility. I won’t be paying for any of it, not because I’m an uncaring asshole, it’s just that I don’t have any money. Sue me from now until the planet Nibiru crashes into Earth and all you’ll get out of me is court costs. It won’t do you any good after an interplanetary collision, anyway.
Still here? Wow, you must be really bored. Well, you asked for it.
It began three, maybe four weeks ago after I had finished a particularly hard day of yard work, mowing the grass and clearing brush and I don’t know what else. Whatever it was, it left me stinking like a wet goat and I was so glad when I was done and I could peel off my sweat-soaked clothes, climb into the shower, scrub all over with plenty of soap, and then stand under the hot running water for ten or fifteen minutes. After a day like that, almost nothing feels as good as a hot shower, don’t you think? I sure did, until that day.
On that day I came out of the shower and, while I was toweling off, I caught a whiff of a sort of moldy smell that I thought was coming from the towel. It was the same towel I’d used the day before, so I didn’t think it was all that unusual. I just grabbed a fresh towel and kept drying myself off. And don’t tell me you’ve never used a towel more than once. If you’ve got the time to wash towels after using them just once, tell me how you do it. I’m just barely keeping up with washing my dirty underwear. Okay, actually I’m not.
A short time after my shower, when I should have still had that really good feeling from being freshly soaped up and washed off, I was sitting in the recliner in the living room with a beer while I watched videos on my laptop of kittens playing in boxes, the tell-tale sign of the imminent collapse of civilization. We have the technology to invent computers small enough to hold in our laps, built by semi-indentured laborers in China, and we’re using this amazing boon to view semi-amusing photos of kittens who speak in leet. In the big scheme of things, interplanetary collision is really not going to be the tragedy we imagine it to be. But I digress, as I always do.
While I was sitting there, suddenly, and I do mean suddenly, at once, without warning, out of nowhere, as if it were a message from the gods, although it was really more like the warning sign of a stroke, I was overwhelmed by the smell of old gym socks. It was so powerful that it distracted me from my kitten video enough to make me turn around to see if someone or something had snuck up behind me and was standing just over my shoulder for the sole purpose of emitting this powerful stench, because I certainly couldn’t believe for an instant it was coming from me. Even after I saw there was nobody else around, I got up out of the recliner and sniffed it, but it just smelled like upholstery. The odor of smelly old socks was gone.
But the smell kept sneaking up on me again and again, and there didn’t seem to be any common trigger. It would come back when I was brushing my teeth, when I was folding the clothes, when I was eating my lunch, when I was picking my nose … in a car, in a plane, in a box, on a plane! I began to smell that smell everywhere! But the time I caught a whiff of it that really blew my mind was when I was squatting on the shitter, pants down around my ankles, thoughts wandering idly around the vacant corners of my mind, enveloped in a cloud of my most vile stink, when I caught a whiff of WHAT THE HELL IS THAT? WHAT KIND OF INFERNAL ODOR CAN OVERPOWER POOP?
It drove me so crazy that, at one point, I actually asked My Darling B to smell me. I really didn’t want to, because that’s got to be the last stage of either dementia or decomposition, but I couldn’t stand it any longer. Would you do me a favor? I began, and then I realized what I was doing and almost couldn’t finish, except that I was already sort of committed. I guess I could have made up something on the fly, distracted her by chopping off my own hand, anything that wasn’t quite as weird as I was really thinking of doing, but I was so shocked at myself and so weirded out by that smell sneaking up on me again that I just bulled my way through to the question I really wanted to ask her.
My Darling B has a very talented and sensitive sniffer. Even if I’d been emitting a mild odor, she’d be able to detect it. Heck, if I was as rotten as I was starting to believe I was, she should have been able to smell me from another room. I’d been half expecting her to say something to me before now, or at least pinch her nose as she walked past me, but she’s too nice to do something as low as that. But she also happens to be honest to a fault, so if I asked her point-blank to tell me if I smelled like a moldy gym sock, I think she’d do it. So I did.
Smell me, would you? I asked, sitting down beside her on the sofa. Do you smell anything, um, musty?
Such a look she gave me. Like I asked her to pick my nose. Then, ever so daintily, she leaned in and sniffed. Closed her eyes and thought about it a moment. Sniffed again.
Nope, she finally said, and then, because I’d brought it up, she had to ask, Why?
Might as well admit it now and get it over with. I think I’m getting old man smell,
She sniffed once more. No, I don’t smell anything.
Well, if she couldn’t smell it, it wasn’t there, which made me feel worse because the only other rational explanation was that I was going insane. Almost better to have old man smell. I can’t tell you how long I brooded over what it would be like to slowly descend into a madness that would be made up mostly of rotten smells. Can you imagine waking up every day wondering what kind of stink would flood your senses for the next twenty-four hours? It was like that joke about the guy choosing his hell: Break’s over! Everyone back on your heads!
Then, early thing morning, I was combing my hair when I caught a whiff of eau de gym socks again and was about to get all freaked out about it, except that I happened to pause with my comb in front of my face and couldn’t help but notice it reeked! My comb stunk to high heaven! It was on my comb! My goddamn comb smelled like rotten old sneakers! And I was combing that stink into my hair! No wonder that smell was haunting me.
And this is how the story ends: All my combs are getting a long bath in a beaker filled with vinegar and won’t be coming out for a long, long time. Happily ever after. The end.old man smell | 9:21 pm CDT
Category: daily drivel, damn kids!, yet another rant | Tags: random idiocy
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