A man with a moustache and work boots with the tongues flopped out pushed by me today and said something about how “fucking pakis stink.”

He said it in a low away and didn’t move his lips much, or maybe it was because he didn’t have any teeth and didn’t need to, but I don’t think he intended for me to hear. But I did hear and I stopped and said,

“Fuck you. I had a shower last night. I did stink, but now I don’t. You could have said that yesterday but today it’s completely unfounded. And who the bloody hell are you to judge the merit of my bodily odour? You smell like stale cigarettes and gone-off milk. And I’m not from Pakistan. I was born here and I’m Scottish and Maltese, which, admittedly makes me genetically half Arabic but that’s still not Pakistani and you should have chosen your words better.”

And he just stared at me, and by then everyone in the Ajax office was staring at me and he squinted and did a thing with his mouth, which is like a smile but not a smile; where a person with teeth would show all of them, but he just had two gummy pallets, like the top jaw of a goat but pink, and his whole face was wrinkled up and he stood there like that for several seconds with the door half open.

Then he motioned with his head toward a man with a blaze orange turban and a Mossy Oak camo shirt and Gore Tex boots I’ve seen in the Cabela’s catalogue before they were bought out by Bass Pro, and I didn’t care for the tread, and he said, slowly, and only slightly louder,

“Him.”

And the man with the orange turban and the Mossy Oak shirt was playing a video game on his iPhone and didn’t look up, just raised a hand and said, “I am from Pakistan.”

And I felt a little embarrassed but not much and I said, “Him?! He smells like curried goat.”

And then the man with the hunting turban paused his game and looked up at me and shook his head and made a hand gesture that I usually see before people say, “What the fuck, dude?” But he didn’t say that. At least I don’t think he did, because he said a lot of things very rapidly in a language I didn’t recognize, so it probably wasn’t Latin, Greek, German, French, Spanish, English, Italian, Portugese, Swiss, Romanian, Friesian, or any of the Algonkian or Athabaskan family of languages, although it could have been Finnish because I have trouble recognizing most of the Finno-Ugric family.

And it definitely wasn’t the clicking language of the Kung bushmen of Africa because that’s a very old language and it’s easy to identify. Unless he was doing a hack job of pronouncing it. But going by probability and by the lack of pharyngeal rasping common to Arabic and most of the Middle Eastern languages, I would just guess that it was Punjabi. And because he wore a turban and Sikhs wear turbans and they predominantly speak Punjabi.

But I don’t. So he could have said, “What the fuck, dude?” or some variant thereof and I would never have known. And then I began pointing out that everyone in the room smelled strongly of something or another.

The pale redheaded woman behind the glass smelled sharply of copy toner and cheddar cheese; the really old guy reading the newspaper smelled like some kind of horse liniment, chemotherapy sweat and flatulence; the chubby kid with a baby face and no ass smelled like Doritos and diabetic breath and arm pits; the tall black guy wearing a freezer suit who had dreadlocks and was the same height as me while he was sitting smelled like marijuana and Redbull; and a really thin guy sitting by himself smelled like feet and acetone, and I think it was his breath, so he might have been losing a lot of weight and had developed ketoacidosis.

And I went around the room like that, listing off what everyone smelled like and I noticed the moustache man with the flopped out tongues on his work boots changed his colour a little; kind of like a cuttlefish but more subtle and far slower. Also he just became a little redder and he wasn’t standing in front of anything that was red or even reddish so I guess it’s not much like a cuttlefish at all. And it did a poor job of camouflaging him, if that was his intent.

And after several people in the room had made rude hand gestures or told me to fuck off, I stated that everyone stinks, and that after I’m done smelling like Irish Spring soap and an off-brand of laundry detergent, I’d smell like soup and crackers and onions, but with dog breath and my truck will smell just like a still-warm, freshly gutted deer because I had recently eaten an A&W hamburger, but without the bun because I’m trying to avoid carbs and that’s made me a little edgy.

And the baby-faced kid with no ass said, “I get that, too.”

And everyone looked at him and he clarified, “The gutted deer farts. Not the carb thing. I love carbs. My girlfriend tried to make me do Atkins with her and I smothered her with a pillow.”

And I left.

Also, the picture has nothing to do with the story, except that if you look really hard, she’s wearing Mossy Oak underwear.

 

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