Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The Nose Doesn't Want to Know

Smearing expensive goo on your face on a nightly basis is, I suppose, just a natural part of growing older. What I can't understand is why the manufacturer thought this goo should have a smell of any kind. Sure, my moisturizer is only "lightly" scented. But any scent is kind of overwhelming when you apply it to your face, which, last time I checked, is where your nose is.

It's not nearly as overwhelming as my first roommate in college, about whom I was reminiscing to some coworkers today. "I scheduled it so my first class every day was at noon, downstairs, in a classroom on the first floor of my dorm," I was telling them. Wasn't that clever? So it was unfortunate that my randomly assigned roommate turned out to be a pathologically perky morning person with a major aerosol addiction.

After her 6 a.m. shower came clouds of baby-powder-scented aerosol deodorant, faux-Giorgio perfume in a spray can, and - because this was 1986 - at least two cubic liters of Aquanet. Forget about sleeping - I couldn't breathe. The windows in Jester didn't open, but it's probably just as well. After a few weeks I might have been tempted to jump. Thank God nobody ever lit a match.

But the weirdest thing - oh, my God, I said, as I remembered this detail - was that as she got dressed, she'd dump a sizable mound of baby powder into her panties. I guess she didn't quite feel fresh without it. And one of my coworkers asked, "Didn't she leave a little trail everywhere she went?"

"Or little poofs in the air behind her," suggested another, "like fairy dust!"

Do you know, I used to worry a lot about fitting in at my current job. But I think I've succeeded in bringing them down to my level at last.

I stopped by to visit another coworker this afternoon. I used to talk to her all the time when she worked in the gift shop off the lobby, and I'd drop in whenever I passed by. Since she moved to cubicle-land, I never see her. So I came by to talk and admire her new digs. After we'd been chatting for a while, her phone rang, and I busied myself in admiring the many group photos she has on her wall. One surprised me. Standing directly behind her in the shot was someone from my old work section - an old-school state employee of the first order, who, very shortly after Robbie and I started working there, confronted us in the hallway, demanded to know the date of a particular volcanic eruption, and, when we gazed in helpless bewilderment at one another, exclaimed "And you call yourselves geographers?!" and walked off.

What could he be doing in a group photo with my gift-shop-tending coworker? It seemed unlikely that they would move in the same circles. Or on the same planet. "What's this photo from?" I asked her as soon as she was off the phone.

"Oh, that's the Hispanic Activities Council," she said.

I looked again. Sure enough, everyone in the picture, besides the geography aficionado, was Hispanic. "I used to know that guy," I told her, and related the volcano story.

She laughed. "He's kind of strange," she said, "but he always comes to all the meetings. He never talks though."

"Why," I began, and paused, not knowing if this would be an indelicate question. One tries to be politically sensitive. "Why is he on the Hispanic Activities Council?" I asked.

"I have no idea," she said. "I think he just likes Mexican food."

The cubicles in my old division are less than half the size of the ones we have now, so I can testify with some degree of authority that many of my former coworkers were very fond of Mexican food indeed. The sad thing is, our work campus is being demolished in a year or two to put up condos, and the developer (as a deal to get my agency out of its 10,000-year proprietary lease on the prime real estate where it sits) is building us a new high-rise towards the rear of the property. This edifice will house all the workers who currently occupy three buildings sprawled out over a 10- or 12-acre spread, so space will be limited, cubicle size will be standardized, and we won't have the nice big offices we have now, that's for sure. "It's gonna suck," sighed my coworker, "you'll be smelling everybody's lunch, one way or another."

I just hope they don't put my work group on the same floor with my old section. Time to pick up a pallet of baby powder at the wholesale warehouse, or maybe just smear lots of moisturizer under my nose.

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At July 09, 2009 7:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I gotta know who you are refering to!?!?!


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