Oh man. That is a loaded topic. The thing about the mentally ill that I didn’t learn until this damage was done is that they sometimes complain of a heightened sense of smell. For example, as long as I’ve known her, my mother has complained that I stink and am dirty. I could be stepping out of the shower and she would say “have you washed your face?” like I’d just been through a tough mudder.

She recently sent me a Mexican tissue paper hanging because it would be better in my house since it would get dirty in hers, and she knows I don’t mind dirt. I think when she looks at me she just sees Pigpen from Peanuts.


As a result, I have more of an issue with worrying about being smelly than other people. I’ve mostly moved past that. Partially because I learned that it was her insanity and probably not my smelliness that caused this issue, and also because I noticed as I got older that I smell like my dad. And since my dad doesn’t smell bad to me, I’m cool with it.

Because of the smelliness issue, I’m usually the first to point out when something stinks as a sort-of preemptive strike. Which hasn’t made me any smelly friends. The awkward social situation has occurred more than once where someone in the room has BO, and I drive them away by complaining constantly about the horrible stench while being genuinely ignorant as to its origin.

My sense of smell is actually pretty bad, due mostly to my allergies, but maybe some residual damage from having been a smoker. I had almost no sense of smell for my entire smoking time, up until about five years after I quit. So bad odors are mostly hinted at rather than tangible in my world, which is another reason I always point them out. I usually think that I’m the last to know, and it’s probably me. So I talk about it in the hopes that someone will confirm or deny so I can stop freaking out. That usually backfires. Then I’m the girl being mean to the kind with the glandular problem.

This is also why I have a totally disproportionate freak out whenever anybody starts to smell things around me.

I guess I can take solace in the fact that when it is confirmed that I smell, I don’t get upset. It’s the not knowing for sure that really freaks me out. The other day Ben and I both smelled terrible but we still fucked anyway. It’s just a matter of averting your face parts.