Of Smells

My mustache, which is thick, performs that service. If I bring my gloves or my handkerchief near it, the smell will stay there a whole day.
montaigne, “of smells”

I told my boyfriend, “Smell this paper.” Customers came to our apartment to drop off handwritten manuscripts, which I converted, via my ibm Selectric, into presentability. One client’s pages—untyped rough drafts—stank of Stilton and Sobranies. I wanted my boyfriend to smell the paper, its malodorousness a freak show. He said, “No! Please! Don’t make me!” He ran away. I was behaving like Klaus Kinski in Nosferatu: agent of olfactory torture.

Montaigne mentions hairy armpits as particularly blameworthy. Several times I’ve googled the connection between body hair and odor; the results are never conclusive. Crotch follicles stink, one website said. Fact? Mentioning hair makes me a stinky speaker.

Blindness: I smelled it in a pine cabin where a blind flutist lived. I was her accompanist. That summer, I attempted masculinity by using Irish Spring soap. A trumpet player with hairy armpits (I idolized him) also used Irish Spring: he looked like John Davidson (costar of The Happiest Millionaire) crossed with Roger Federer. Throw in Franco Nero, who, in Camelot, had roundelay hair: a shag, songful and circular….


Posted in Covers.