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By Staff | Aug 23, 2014

There is a group of people who are disdained for the way they smell. Not so much for the methods they use to smell, but more for the aromas they exude.

This downtrodden demographic is commonly known as “guys.”

The subgroup of this group that suffers the most is known as “husbands.”

Let’s face it: women have a much more acute sense of smell than men.

Females can detect a single malodorous molecule at a hundred paces.

Guys, on the other hand, can’t tell if a baby needs changing until the diaper’s odor has become strong enough to stop a charging water buffalo.

This is just one reason why women are generally better mothers than men.

It’s nearly always news to a guy when his wife informs him that he stinks. Certainly he may have noticed how those vultures fainted as they flew overhead.

But that didn’t necessarily prove anything; after all, the vultures, being guys themselves, were probably playing it for laughs.

Skillful husbands can intuit when their impending personal odors might be offensive to the female olfactory system.

As such, many husbands have perfected the tactic that is known universally as “silent, but deadly.”

“Oh my Lord,” a wife may suddenly exclaim in the middle of a gripping episode of Breaking Bad, “What did you eat? Week-old road kill?”

“What?” the husband might protest. “I don’t smell anything. It was the dog.”

“We don’t even have a dog.”

This is why the marriages that last the longest are those that involve household pets.

Foot odor has long been my personal albatross. Taking my clodhoppers off at the end of a long, hot day could empty the house.

It was often broadly hinted that my socks would qualify as an EPA Superfund site.

I, on the other hand, didn’t think that my feet smelled all that bad. But then again, that’s also how I feel about lutefisk.

Once, when I was a teenager, I acquired a blazing case of athlete’s foot. Just taking off my boots and peeling away my socks was pure agony.

A search of the medicine cabinet yielded a small bottle of a liquid athlete’s foot remedy. Ignorant regarding such things, I doused my toes with a generous squirt of the stuff. I was later told that my bellowing could be heard several miles away.

My toes felt like they had been thrust into a vat of molten lava. It was as if a miniature Fukushima were taking place between each little piggy.

I shared this tale of woe with an uncle who replied that he obtained a wicked form of athlete’s foot while serving in the Merchant Marines.

Upon returning home to the farm, he was able to cure the malady only after he cut the toes off his boots, thus exposing his tootsies to fresh air and sunshine.

He was a tough guy, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he did this even though it was the dead of winter.

Then there is the issue of B.O. This can be a tricky topic, as there is no objective standards regarding what passes for “a little funky” and what constitutes “a stink that would scour the rust off a plowshare.”

For instance, I was recently yakking with an elderly bachelor dairy farmer when he asked if I could give him a lift to his pickup which sat on the headland of a nearby field. I said of course.

He climbed into the car and the air instantly filled with the choking aromas of dried dairy cow manure, diesel fumes and old guy B.O.

These odors intermingled with a level of bad breath that can only be obtained by washing down a cud of smokeless tobacco with a quart of stale coffee.

I rolled my window down as we slowly bumped our way to the field.

“Something wrong with your eyes?” asked the old guy.

“Must have got some dust in them,” I replied as I frantically gulped fresh air.

“Well, they sure are watering a lot. You should probably get that checked out.”

“I’ve been meaning to ask,” I said between deep tokes of outside air, “What’s up with that car air freshener hanging from the

back of your cap?”

“That’s to keep the skeeters away. Might look silly, but it works pretty darn good.”

“What about the smell?”

“That there’s a bonus feature. Wearing a air freshener all the time cuts way down on body odors. I bet I take only half as many baths.”

Wow. It was hard to imagine how he’s still single.

Nelson is a freelance writer from Volga, S.D. Reach him by e-mail at jjpcnels@itctel.com.

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