Tuesday, March 19, 2013

What's That Smell?

My older son, Zack, had cradle cap when he was a baby.  This, combined with the fact that he sweat profusely while sleeping, caused the strangest, most unpleasant smell.  You always think of tiny infants smelling sweet and clean like baby shampoo or fresh laundry.  I believe that more than one of his uncles handed him back to us after only a brief interaction, with the admonishment, "Uh, here, you take him instead.  He has the funk".

Come to find out, boys always have 'the funk'.  I mean, they can shower and bathe, but it will soon return.  Believe me.  As toddlers and preschoolers it takes on something like a puppy dog smell.  Once they're in school it is more reminiscent of working long and hard in the garden - dirt mixed with fertilizer and perspiration.  But you know they haven't been doing any manual labor, so that rules out an obvious source.  And as they age it becomes simply unidentifiable.  Zack's 5th grade teacher sent out numerous emails during the year pleading with parents to "do a sniff test and take appropriate measures".  I feel for the guy - cooped up with hormonal boys and girls in a stuffy classroom all day.  No wonder they hand out sample deodorants to the boys in the spring!

The worst olfactory assault came this past fall during a Chili Cook-off that we were hosting.  I guess that being a M.O.B. ("mother of boys" in case you're just joining us or you had a few drinks already) I associate mainly with other families that also have boys.  Of all the attendees, most of the kids running around were boys of elementary and middle school age.  Somehow they tended to congregate in one room playing video games.  This was a smallish room (our guest room where my in-laws were staying), and the window was unfortunately closed, allowing the heat from the TV and video components to build up quickly and mingle with their own body heat.  I'm sure you can guess what's coming, right?  One unfortunate parent opened the door to shoo them out.  I was behind her and the blast of foul air that emanated forth was so potent it defies words.  I'm surprised there wasn't a noxious green cloud that poured out - although I may have lost consciousness for a brief time and simply missed it.  We stood blinking as if in a haze (it was that cloud, I'm sure) before finally accessing our language pathways and yelling for them to go outside into the fresh air.  Hoping for a decontamination process to occur perhaps?  Or maybe just a diffusion of funk into the unsuspecting neighborhood?  Either way, my in-laws have yet to come visit with us again.  Coincidence???


  1. Muwahahahaha!! Please tell me you are going to explain fried chicken sheen next!! :)

  2. I would, if only I understood that phenomenon. I don't know how to explain it.