Thursday, July 15, 2010

Undone by a dinner that follows you around

Don't you just hate it when you reek and don't notice until someone else points it out to you?

Strong-smelling food, for example, can often be the culprit, as it was of me earlier this week.

I was at the grocery store on Saturday and saw a nice piece of cod that was just begging to be eaten. Like the good east-coaster that I am, I grabbed the package and brought it home, eager to hear the sweet sizzle of my soon-to-be supper in the hot frying pan full of melted butter. Hmmm! I couldn't wait.

I chowed down on the delicious meal and then decided to go visiting friends. While I'd noticed that the fish smelled quite strongly when I was frying it up, I turned on the ventilation fan over the stove to ensure the house didn't smell like a fish market afterwards. Little did I know that the house was the least of my worries.

So, I hopped in my car and drove the short distance to visit my friends. I hopped out and went in, said my greetings and took my seat on the sofa. I greeted my 13-year-old godson who was chatting with friends on the computer and then chatted with his mother while another son was in his bedroom and the father was showering. When the 10-year-old little brother came out into the living room, he crinkled his nose, took one look at me, and proclaimed, "You stink!"

Out of the mouth of babes! Well, apparently I reeked . . . and as cod as my witness - oops, I mean God as my witness - I had no bloody idea that I was doing my own human impression of one of those delicious creatures. I was quite embarrassed at the thought of walking around town smelling like fish, mind you, and joked about not really noticing. Privately, though, I was a bit more than embarrassed; I was horrified!

While my godson chuckled at his brother's honesty - and muttered something about noticing the smell himself but not being able to put his finger on its source - their mother then walked in from the kitchen and proclaimed, "Oh, I noticed it the minute you walked in."

Well, for the love of all that is holy, that was the final straw. I tried to crawl between the sofa cushions and made great efforts to speak in a very hushed voice so that my breath wouldn't peel the paint off the walls. Then I put my hand in front of my mouth to try and see if my breath did indeed smell that bad and took a deep sniff of the shirt I was wearing. Yup. Twasn't pretty.

For the rest of the visit, the fishy aroma emanating from me seemed to be the main topic of conversation. Each member of the household regaled me over and over again about the first time they smelled me when I entered the house that evening. Indeed, it seemed like I'd gone from an uncle and godfather to circus freak within a few minutes all because of my unfortunate (yet delicious) choice of supper.

I tried to hide my mortification throughout the rest of the evening, although I'm not sure how successful I was. I joked about how I'd definitely gargle with turpentine immediately after my next meal of cod - not to mention remove my shirt and have it incinerated at the nearest crematorium.

It's always a delicate thing to tell someone they may not smell like a vase full of fresh roses. It could be something you just ate or something you just cooked. It could be that you just exercised and don't recognize your own funkiness. I suppose, in the end, it's better to be told rather than to continue on throughout the day inadvertently peeling paint off walls or causing distress to dainty damsels who may be prone to fainting after you walk by them as they stroll down the promenade carrying their pink parasols.

So, how can you tell if you're not ready for prime time before heading out the door to be in public?

Well, you could shower and change clothing completely every time. Probably not practical. You could just eat white bread covered in some cheap tasteless margarine. Again, that can get a bit on the boring side.

If you reek of fish before leaving the house, there's a sure way of telling, especially if you're a cat owner like me. For example, if your cat is rubbing up against your leg and purring lustfully, you may smell like fish. If your cat comes up to you and drops a wedding ring at your feet, you may smell like fish.

If your cat gives you a heart-shaped box of chocolate-covered mice as a token of affection, you may smell like fish. If you catch your cat reading a book called "100 Most Popular Feline-Human Hybrid Baby Names," you may smell like fish. If you inexplicably find tourism brochures around the house advertising honeymoon resorts specializing in napping and "vacation litter box experiences," you may smell like fish.

And here I thought my cats were just being friendly. They were in love with my stink!

I just know one thing. It's gonna be a mighty lean Christmas this year for a couple of bratty kids with a keen sense of smell and a propensity for brutal honesty. After all, people who smell like cod have long memories.

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