When I was 15 I stopped shaving my armpits. I was dating a boy named Mike at the time. Mike had a fascination with Charles Manson. I would like to call it a “healthy fascination” like one might with normal teenage boys and their fondness for baseball players or men who visit the moon, but it’s not really all that healthy admiring a man whose only claim to fame is driving a bunch of hippies to kill for him.
Mike lent me books about Manson. He also owned a VHS tape featuring one of Manson’s parole hearings. I remember watching it and trying DESPERATELY to find a point to all his ranting. I really wanted Manson to turn out to be brilliant. I wanted to know that the boy I was with wasn’t a total psychopath and instead was onto something. But he wasn’t. And neither was Manson.
Mason may have had Mike’s head, but Manson’s girl, Ouisch, had Mike’s heart.
Let me introduce you to Ruth Ann Morehouse.
Ruth Ann Morehouse, AKA “Ouisch”, was my first boyfriend’s first love. Mike had pictures of her in his bedroom. They weren’t taped to his walls or anything, because, well, that would be too weird. But he had them lying about. At the time, I thought he liked her eyebrows. Looking back, I think he was enamored by her devotion. And while I was never driven to kill anyone for him, I did stop shaving my underarms because it was “natural”—like Ouisch. It’s amazing what a 3 X 2, black and white newspaper clipping and a boy can convince a teenage girl to do.
I used a stone back then instead of deodorant. Though, I have to admit, I barely sweated at that age. But I took that stone to my pits daily and never got wind of anything foul. Even with the hair and all—not a whiff.
Years went bye, and Mike did, too. He left me for a plethora of other girls who all had better eyebrows. Eventually, I shaved again. I retired the translucent stone for some antiperspirant. Not because I was particularly smelly. I wasn’t. But because everyone else wore it so I started to as well.
At some point over the course of my 31 year tenure, I discovered that antiperspirant made people go crazy. And so I gave that up, too. I began wearing Tom’s.
And that has worked just fine for me ever since. That is, up until very recently.
I’m not sure if it’s my new diet, my age, the devil, or just a whole bunch of 30-year-old bad luck, but lately my armpits have been unbearably stinky. I smell like 2,000 Grateful Dead fans and Ouisch (only without the killer eyebrows) all at once.
I’m too afraid to wear antiperspirant again because of the ALS. And I apply so much of Tom and Kiss My Face, my armpits are chafed from all the play. I can’t very well be quarantined for the rest of my life but I probably should be. They were so bad the one day, Toby Joe thought someone had a bag of raw onions on the L Train. I had made a face regarding something else entirely.
Yeah, I know. Someone has onions with them.
I looked at him in a matter of fact fashion as if I’d known he was going to say just that and said, “No, that would be me.”
Like two marbles, his eyes bounced out of their sockets. As I collected them for him, the other commuters began to cry from the smell. I gave Toby Joe his sight back but I can’t seem to do anything about the smell.
Seriously, I am going to end up killing someone. I’m that person you silently judge. The person with the most powerful sense of smell has been forced to deal with the foulest odor on Earth. There’s a Greek tragedy in here someone. I am the new Oedipus.
Send patchouli care of mihow. I’ve actually always liked the smell…