It has been well established that being a pre-teen to teen gargles the gnarliest of donkey balls.
This is so for a particularly grim combination of factors. Namely, in addition to acting out a small-scale, high-stakes model of all your future social interactions to nth degree, you’ve also got to contend with your changing body.
This can mean a lot of things. It can means boners while giving a lecture on photosynthesis. It can mean period-ing all over a white chair (oh what that is me still every day; IHTM: I Am 29 And Don’t Do My Period Right). It can be struggling to learn how much CK One is enough CK One (there is never enough CK One -- that was a trick).
Or, it can be your body brewing mad odors and you not either not realizing it, or not knowing that society expects you to contend with that shit.
I was chubby in middle school and high school. I was also so status-conscious that it was basically a joke. As if that weren’t delicious enough, I also hated myself more than the entire parade of bullies who visited their terror upon me.
I had heard said bullies rail against “smelly fat people” often enough that I soaped my poor skin until it was red and peeling. To make sure I didn’t offend anyone’s nostrils, I would add a topcoat of Gap Heaven, a perfume that stills evokes co-mingled feelings of panic and anticipation.
If I gave off an aroma other than raw fear, it went unnoticed and I was left alone. The same cannot be said for countless other stinky kids of all shapes and sizes.
My best friend from college tells a story about working on a school play in high school as the stage manager. There was a girl in the cast who gave off a bad aroma. How the following responsibility fell on my friend Alex’s shoulders I’ll never know -- probably because of a beyond cowardly teacher.
Anyway, it was left to Alex to summon the whole cast and crew together and make an announce reminding everyone to shower a little bit. A grisly matter, well-managed by a sassy youth.
But wait! There was emotional fallout.
Another friend of mine was in the cast of said play, and he, being a self-obsessed youth, assumed the speech was meant for him -- and that everyone else knew it. Using logic and a basic understanding of the self-obsession of teens I would venture to say that everyone in that play -- whether the speech was intended for them or not -- washed themselves with a furious vigor that day.
Sometimes a stinky kid is, to kick it back at Freud, not, however, just a stinky kid.
Take, for example, this little lady second grader in Tennessee who has been suspended 24 times for smelling badly enough that children and adults alike could not focus their minds on anything other than her smell. This is a case where despite the child’s guardian’s claims that her daughter bathes daily, the DCS have become involved.
This story tweaked at my guts because 7 is too young to have to be fending off the verbal blows of your peers, let alone have a teacher look you in the eye and say they can’t teach you math or cursive because you need to get you washed.
It made me think back to every instance of pre-teen persecution I witnessed as a kid. Because no matter how cruel and calculating the abuse, the child alone was the victim of it. Therein lies the immaturity of even the most wicked child monster -- they think if you smell it’s strictly your fault.
I guess the consolation is that when you grow up, if you are like me and my friends, tales of our hygeinic nastiness are like hip exclusive currency. You think you've got a nasty smell story? WELL HOW ABOUT THESE: My brother once went to school and made a girl throw up because our cat had peed on his backpack.
Also once I could not figure out why my hair smelled and then realized it smelled because it had throw-up in from a stranger at a Third Eye Blind Concert... three days earlier! OH SNAP! Once I farted so badly that it made a friend gag and dry heave. The smell would not dissipate. It was clearly something dead in my insides.
Tell me your smelly tales in the comments, lovers!