#068 In which our hero doesn't know what he was thinking.
A new woman started working at the agency last week. She's probably late 30's/early 40's, a little dumpy, generally unattractive. None of which is a sin and I don't hold it against her. However, she has one feature that I simply must object to: she smells.
Not in the BO-fashion, thank god, but rather, in the god-awful-amounts-of-perfume fashion. Now, I'm not a scent guy, and I've been incredibly fortunate to marry a woman that doesn't feel the need to douse herself with outrageously-expensive scented water every morning, so maybe I'm a little sensitive. But no - everyone else in the agency has commented as well.
The conscientious seems to be what can she possibly be thinking?! Either she's using some lethally-potent yak glad extract or she's splashing on waaay too much of it. On the few occasions when I do wear some sort of cologne, I dribble a little in my palm, rub my hands together, and rub my face a bit. Then wash my hands. Never have I thought, "Hmm... that can't possibly be enough. Maybe I should just up-end the bottle and let it sink into my pours for half an hour."
I can only assure you that I am not exaggerating. Her office is oppressive with the smell, it leaks out of her open door in the same fashion I image that mustard gas filled the trenches in WWI (and probably to the same effect). She leaves a vapor trail of stink behind her. I accidentally walked through it once, and it was like I had been slapped in the face; I literally pulled up short and changed direction.
And the worst part is that it's not even a nice scent, like, say, lilacs. It's one of those harsh, chemical-smelling concoctions that always makes me think of grandmothers and funeral parlors. Ugh.
Also, to really cap things off, her name is Shelly. Can you guess the juvenile nickname I use whenever discussing her in her absence? That's right: Smelly. Yep, I'm twelve years old.
This got me to thinking of other what are they thinking? moments. There's another woman in the office (who has no objectionable scent that I have noticed) who has a mustache. Not a little stray hair on the upper lip, or a faint hint of bleached hair... but a full-on mustache. It looks like my mustache looks for the first week or so of growing it (of course, I grow facial hair like a 14-year-old). But it is there, clear as day. How do you prepare for work and not notice it? I know she sees it because every three or four days it is gone (shaved or plucked or waxed or whatnot), only to return shortly thereafter. There are days in which I do not shave, but I'm a guy. Yes, society is harsh forcing women into hairlessness... but hey, I don't make the rules.
Anyway, this thought-trail finally led to my own what was I thinking? moments. Most of these involve me suddenly blurting out something stupid, often even after I've cogently said to myself "Don't you dare say that out loud!"
But then, there is the sweater.
I used to own this awesome blue sweater in high school. It looked cool, fit well, and I loved it. This sweater followed me to college and I continued to wear it. Well past the point at which I should have stopped.
Since this site is only read by two or three people that know me personally, I don't have to tell you that I have no fashion sense. If they made Garanimals for adults, I'd be all over it. Actually, that's pretty much how I dress now: "Let's see, blue pants, blue shirt, blue-ish socks. Good, done!" As I side note: this is my employers fault. No, really. If this were a reasonable agency, the creative staff would be allowed to wear jeans and T-shirts, which would allow me to dress like I want to dress. Instead, I'm forced into "business casual" which basically means shirt and tie without the tie. Which is stupid. Anyway.
So it's my sophomore or junior year in college, and I'm taking an advertising class that includes work in focus groups. So I, and the two classmates that are in my group, are talking to people about, well, about whatever it was we were trying to sell.
Now, the only reason this story has any emotional punch at all is because I had a huge crush on one of the girls in my group. We'll call her Judy. Judy was the kind of girl I crushed on a lot in college (and, for that reason, after college): short, petite, quirky, funny and a little punk, but not so much as to be scary. I had seen her in another class and decided to get to know her better. So when it came time to select groups in class (advertising students are forever doing this: breaking off into groups of four or five, which make up our own "agency") I somehow finagled it so she was in my group.
Y'know, now that I start thinking about it, there is a long and involved story about my relationship with Judy, one that doesn't paint me in the best light. I imagine I'll have to tell it eventually.
So we're doing these focus groups and afterward, we're sitting around discussing the results. Oh, and since I wanted to impress Judy, I'm wearing my awesome blue sweater.
I don't remember how it comes up, but the girls in my group comment on just how bad this sweater looks. Naturally, I couldn't see it until it was pointed out, but they were oh so right: it was faded and hadn't stretched to match my growth, so it was basically skin-tight, like I was wearing some sort of superhero's knit costume.
Naturally I became defensive, which so often seems to be my first reaction to such a thing. I distinctly remember saying "Why didn't you say something? I count on you guys to tell me when I'm dressing like an idiot!" As if it was their responsibility to come over to my dorm and OK the clothes I was laying out for the next day. I was mortified not only because I looked the fool in front of Judy, but I also looked like a moron in front of every girl that we interviewed for the focus group. Ugh.
So that is my what the hell was I thinking? moment. Oh, but if that were only the worst misstep I ever took in front of Judy.