I told him he smells of coffee and thrift shops. He said, “Is that a good thing?”
I said yes, very. Or better than smelling of cheese and ammonia.
“Who smells of cheese and ammonia?”
This lady I work with. And not good cheese, either. Roquefort, that’s been sitting on the dash of a car on a 100 degree day.
“Why do you suppose the ammonia?”
I assume that she cleans with it.
“Oh my God,” he said. “Who cleans with ammonia? Unless she’s getting rid of evidence?” He cocked an eyebrow.
And who smells of cheese if they clean with ammonia, is what I want to know. I tell him I can never eat stinky cheese again, but that being near him always makes me want a coffee, badly.
“What do thrift shops smell like?”
I ask him if he’s ever been into a thrift shop.
“I don’t think so. Old bookstores. I love those. Is that close?”
I thought about that. Yes, yes that was close. Old books smelled organic, and a little musty, somewhat mysterious. I tell him I should take him into a thrift shop. I am in need of a new sweater.
“Why don’t you just let me go to the super center and get you a sweater?”
And pay five times more for something that will look ratty after one trip through the wash? I think not.
“You’re the anti-snob.”
He made me laugh out-right. I have never been accused of that before. I ask if it is a positive personality trait.
“I think so. It makes me want to kiss you again, if you like kissing guys who smell old and previously worn.” He paused. “It also makes me feel sad.”
One day, I tell him. I’ll get out of here and we can go home. I put my hand against the plastic sheeting that drapes me and the bed. I try to recall the smells of coffee and thrift shops on him, over the smells of rubbing alcohol and latex, and I try to smile away the sadness in his eyes. I tell him we can’t waste time. I want to remember him smiling.