Two ladies—we call them Skunkwater Lady I and Skunkwater Lady II (sometimes Jr)—habitually bathe in knock-off perfume in the ladies’ toilet where I work. You might think that I use the word “bathe” hyperbolically. I assure you, I’m not. The thick, wafting clouds of Eau de Icky-Sicky-Sweet I and II are deadly. Every day, the Skunkwater Ladies freshen up their scent right around lunchtime, rendering the bathroom a Superfund site for most of the afternoon.
My coworkers and I have thought about posting signs, something, anything to stop it, but we aren’t entirely sure about how to go about putting the kibosh on skunkwater application without creating an international incident. It was during a strategizing session/bitch fest about the Skunkwater ladies last week that I was reminded of this tale from my youth.
Boys of fashion and taste sported Polo for Men by Ralph Lauren when I was in high school. They would strut past me, and my stomach would flip, my heart would beat faster, and my palms would get just a little bit sweaty. I would feel faint and look after the studly juniors and seniors with love and repressed lust (I went to a Christian school). Oh, how I wanted them. When I finally got a boyfriend of my very own, he wore Gucci. It wasn’t the only thing about him that disappointed me, but it was high up on the list. I never realized my dream of falling into the arms of a Polo-wearing senior.
Years passed. Polo had been eclipsed by other scents (beer appealed to me quite a bit at the time), and I had largely forgotten about my obsession with it. I was working in a deli before I went off to graduate school, and one day I was adjusting some containers of potato salad when I caught a whiff of something. My palms got sweaty, my heart fluttered, my head swam; I nearly threw up all over the containers of potato salad. Bleurgh! What is that stench? I couldn’t place it right away, but there was something familiar about the scent. Then, in a flash it came to me. It’s Polo! This realization was quickly followed by the thought, Wait a minute . . . Polo reeks?
As I was puzzling this over, I had an epiphany: Polo makes me sick! It wasn’t love! It was nausea!
Liberated from years of unrequited passion, I shrieked with laughter. That poor customer. He had no idea why I was running away from him at top speed.