It began on Monday, when I asked Olivia to look at something on my computer. As she leaned in, I smelled it, this stifling new odor, nothing like her normal neutral self. Maybe she didn't have time for a shower that morning, I thought. Whatever.
The next day, the new stench was still there, hanging over Olivia's desk, filling our workspace. OK, no big deal, I thought. Olivia and I always joke about how different we are. She's really cool and laid back, whereas I can be uptight. Could it be she had just given up bathing for a few days? Who was I to judge, right?
Then, on the third day, when I moved in to ask Olivia for her opinion on a photo or something, and the smell was
there, I realized I wasn't doing her any favors by keeping quiet.
"Oliva," I said. "Can I tell you something, as a friend?"
Ah, the dreaded "as a friend." She knew it wouldn't be good news and asked that I take it to iChat.
I ran feverishly to the stash of fragrances next to Cat's desk and chose something from our dwindling selection of perfumes. (People steal them!)
, it was. Not ideal for tackling emergency in-office odors, but a decidedly better choice than
Olivia followed behind me, shut the door and lifted her arms as though ready for a pat-down at the airport.
"Spray me!" she commanded.
I spritzed her all over with Le Parfum, as Emily looked on in horror. Emily is fiercely protective of Olivia, and so was sort of mortified by the whole thing (although she
love the ladylike scent of Elie Saab's fragrance).
"Please don't ever tell me if I smell," Emily said. "I don't want to know."
As someone constantly aware of myself and my surroundings, I feel the complete opposite to Emily. I
want to know if I smell strange, if there's a kale chip lodged between my teeth, if I'm slightly cross-eyed -- I welcome constant appraisal.
For this reason, I live for the sort of boss who offers harsh criticism. "Don't inject your lips again," Cat said the other day. "They looked weird." I appreciated her honestly, especially since everyone else who knows me claimed not to see a difference.
As far as I'm concerned, friends should tell friends the truth. Look,
was the only person who told me that my boyfriend of six years had slept with a mutual friend. That takes serious balls, and ultimately, I thanked him for it.
But everyone has a different threshold for uncomfortable truths. Would you want to know if you had begun to smell? If you'd gained weight? If, like mine, your boyfriend had slept with your least attractive friend? Let's discuss.
Incidentally, Olivia and I later found that the offending smell was in fact coming from underneath her desk where one of the office dogs had left a little surprise.
Criticize Julie on Twitter @JR_Schott, she likes it.