After being raised in a conservative household that could only generously be described as tolerant, and a decade-long stint in the military, it’s taken me the better part of my adult life to become a little more accommodating to the views of others. Ok, I know what you’re saying, and you’re right. I’m still a judgmental asshole, but now I’m mostly doing it for laughs, and deep down I think that the differences between us is what makes the world such a beautiful and fascinating place. Of course, this doesn’t mean that I suddenly think that it’s ok to be ignorant, entitled or otherwise ridiculous, it just means that I don’t think you should be euthanized as a result. But for all the moderation I’ve experienced as I’ve grown older, there is still one area where my prejudices are not only as strong as they were when I was a child, they’re actually stronger - and that’s how you smell. It has been proven that our sense of smell is the mostly closely linked to the emotional centers of our brains. After all, what stirs more emotions than the smell of your mother’s cooking, your girlfriend’s perfume, or an autumn breeze in your home town? But just as stirring as those “good” smells are, I find “bad” smells just as infuriating. And so, in the interests of only growing up as much as I have to, here are 3 inexcusably bad smells:
1. Too Much Of A Good Thing. Look, I like perfume. I do. One of those blissfully charming things about the fairer sex is how damned good they always seem to smell. Additionally, I learned the subtle power of a great cologne - to turn an otherwise platonic moment into a fabric clutching, hair-pulling, heavy breathing encounter. But with that said, there a few things that are overdone with more tragic results than perfuming. And the place where I experience it most often is not the nightclub, the restaurant or even the workplace - it’s the gym. First off, why on earth are you wearing perfume someplace where you’re going to be sweating on purpose? Second, old ladies, what the hell? Your perfume should not be able to double as a chemical warfare agent - and I’ve all but been paralyzed after you walk by. You should also not trail a cloud of it like some kind of musky comet. And I don’t want to hear about a diminished sense of smell, because there are just as many old men in the gym, and they’re not slathering on Brut like it’s bathwater. No, this is just old ladies, and while I can appreciate the desire to want to keep healthy as you age (I really can), I’m going to start carrying a Febreze grenade to throw at you if you don’t cut it out. Young girls and guys, you don’t get a pass. Just because I’m stillable to continue breathing after your scent onslaught, doesn’t mean I want to. Seriously, if someone can smell you from further away than it takes to be involved in rather intimate congress, you’ve overdone it. Go wash off and start over.
2. Don’t Say No. My father once told me, “Never turn down a breath mint.” Which I used to think was pretty handy advice since I spent most of my youth believing they were candy - but as I grew older I began to realize that the real purpose behind these mints and masks and understood that there was really no nicer way to let someone know their breath smelled like burnt hair and feces than to offer them some kind of temporary cure. Of the many horrible things that have come of a generation of hyper-focused narcissism, one good thing is a nearly universal dedication to oral health. Dental tools, once limited to toothbrush and toothpaste, have blossomed into a cottage industry of hundreds of tools to keep your mouth clean and fresh no matter where you are or what you’re doing. Which makes the odd poorly-breathed stranger that much more inexplicable. Outside of the time it takes you to get from your bed to your bathroom in the morning, there is no appreciably good reason that your breath should smell like your garbage disposal after you’ve cooked Thai food. Outside of admitting that you’ve read any of the Twilight books, nothing will stop me from listening to you faster than being punched in the face by your stank breath. And this is not just a first date thing, either. Just because you’re not going to be making out with someone doesn’t mean they should have to endure you exhaling toxic waste. In the end, it just comes down to one question: would you like a breath mint?
3. Get Funky With It. There is nothing, not mini-van drivers, not inattentive parents, not loud teenagers, not even Notre Dame fans that makes me more instantly and violently agitated than someone with body odor. I cannot conceive of a more inconsiderate thing than failing to effectively wash one’s ass. With the availability of bathing facilities in even the most squalid of living conditions, and the commoditized nature of deodorant products, there is just no excuse. None. I’ve heard this explained as a cultural dilemma, and that I should be accommodating of cultures where regular bathing and/or anti-odor products are frowned upon. And all I can say to that is, bullshit. I don’t care who you pray to. I don’t care how or where you were raised. No matter what you read, even by my own hand, I don’t really care so much what the hell you’re wearing. I don’t care what you believe in and I don’t care whether you want to or not. But if you can’t keep from stinking, you need to be dragged off by men in HazMat suits and given a Silkwood shower in front of your family and friends. It’s subhuman. I don’t care if you’ve cured cancer, built an orphanage in Somalia and given your life’s savings to the humane society, if you stink, you suck. The only acceptable funk in my life comes from George Clinton and the like - your funk is a rake-slappable offense; let’s just hope you’re nowhere near my garage when I smell you.
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We live in a world of olfactory wonder. A nearly infinite array of smells bombard us every day (ever more if you live in New York City), and yet only a few of them are truly awful (again, more if you live in New York City). But bad smells serve their purpose, because without them, how would we know how good our good smells are? To take away these profoundly horrible odors would force us to replace them with some not-so-bad smell just for perspective. Much in the same way the kids at Stanford had to search for a set of “cool kids” in a campus full of valedictorians, orchestra member and band jerks. In fact, bad smells are like Mother Nature’s early warning system, alerting us to stay way, something bad is happening in here. So here’s to you, you smelly bastards, out of scent, out of mind.