Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Being a Diva comes with its own set of unique abilities. For me one of those abilities is a proficiency in detecting smells, both good and not so good. My husband says it's a genetic mutation. I believe that it's special Diva gift that allows me to further enrich my life and the lives of those around me, as well as allowing me to avoid unpleasant situations.
Most of the time my olfactory excellence is a blessing, I can detect the most minute traces of cigarette smoke left lingering on untruthful teenagers. I can distinguish between real silk and a well-made imposter and most importantly I know if someone else has been lying in my bed.
There are times, however, that it can be a curse. The kids will bring me kitchen or bath towels and ask me to smell them to see if they need to be washed or re-washed. Not sure why they think I'll do it, my reply has always been "Get that damn thing away from me now, I'm not smelling it! If you have any doubt, wash it again with hot water, bleach and a disinfectant packet." They look at me as if I'd just escaped from the State Hospital before shaking their heads, sighing and starting another load of stinky towels.
Many times it has to do with the normal smells and odors associated with raising a pack of kids. I have been known to yell "What do you mean you just took a shower thirty minutes ago? Take another one now and this time use anti-bacterial soap and then put on deodorant!" All this to a to a freshly scrubbed adolescent with still wet hair and a damp towel (ick) over their shoulder. There have also been times when my car has screeched to a stop and I've demanded which ever child had not brushed their teeth out of the car and back into the house before continuing on my way minus guilty child.
I'm not sure there has been anything, yet, that has topped my recent visit to the DMV. I just hadn't been able to face taking my dad's truck in to be registered into my name since he died last September. The tags on the white '04 Toyota Tundra were up and it had to be done. Since the truck was to be registered in my name I had to be present. Making a trip to the DMV isn't my favorite thing to do, but it's usually not too bad. When I pulled the truck into the parking lot I noticed that there was a line forming outside the door. It was a beautiful summer day and I didn't see much to be worried about except for the smokers congregated in the corner of the parking lot, but they were about twenty feet from the door, so they shouldn't be a problem.
I got in line behind a rather hefty gentleman that appeared to be in his early seventies. He was dressed neatly in clean jeans with a light blue terry cloth pullover. His salt and pepper hair had seen thicker days. He had it parted on the left and it was perfectly combed back with every strand in its place. Soon another man got in line behind me. I didn't notice much about him except that he was also neatly dressed, about my age and had dark hair and a goatee.
I had only been in line a few minutes when a gentle breeze blew past me, bringing with it an unforgettable odor. It was unmistakably human in origin and had nothing to do with digestion or lack of deodorant. The smell fell into an unthinkable category for a Diva and that would be the category of failing to shower for several days. I'm sure my nostrils flared as the stench made its revolting way past my nose. While still in line, I backed up into the side of the building. Maybe I could discern where it was coming from and try to avoid it. It didn't take me long to realize that it was emanating from the neatly dressed, elderly gentleman in front of me. I looked ahead of him to see that there were still about six other customers in front of him. Great, freaking great, I'm stuck. I could turn around and face the back of the line, like that wouldn't be an odd thing to do. I moved closer to the side of the building. I felt the cool brick as I pressed my back into the wall. I leaned my head back, put the folder that contained my documents up to my nose and began to laugh. Then I began to feel badly about laughing. It wasn't like the man didn't care about his appearance, he clearly did. Being as heavy as he was and older I'm sure he had a difficult time with all sorts of everyday activities, bathing included. The worse I felt, the more I began to giggle. The more I giggled, the worse I felt. It was a vicious cycle and I wasn't about to get out of it any time soon.
After about ten minutes he was at the front of the line. I was watching the girl at the reception desk as she helped him, mainly to see if I had been over reacting. She was polite and composed, but I saw her ever so slightly crinkle her nose and take about a half step back. Then I noticed that she widened her eyes and glanced down at the desk. My eyes followed. The elderly man was leaning on the desk taking papers out of a voluminous file one by one. It was hot and I could see sweat beginning to soak through the back of his shirt. I then realized that if his back was sweating, everything that was touching the desk was sweating also. Oh, God, I was next.
After what seemed an interminable amount of time, he slowly gathered all of his documents, took his number and left to be seated in the crowded waiting room. I froze looking at the desk where I needed to be and the pools of sweat on it. I slowly walked closer. I knew there was no breeze inside and the odor would still be hanging there waiting to envelope me. I caught the receptionist's eye as she reached down and pulled a container of Lysol Disinfecting wipes out from under the desk. She carefully wiped every inch of the surface and reached to her left to turn on a standing fan before summoning me up. I was flooded with relief. Not just because she had sanitized the area, but because I hadn't been over-reacting. She gave me the proper forms secured to a clipboard and asked me to take a seat and wait for my number. I began to fill out the forms while making my way to the over-filled waiting area. When I looked up in search of an open seat I saw, to my horror, there were only two seats remaining, one on each side of the elderly gentleman. I decided to stand.