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An old story, but something I was thinking about recently... - Kurt's Life (or lack thereof) [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Kurt Onstad

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An old story, but something I was thinking about recently... [Dec. 6th, 2003|04:48 pm]
Kurt Onstad
[Current Mood |contemplativecontemplative]
[Current Music |Men At Work - Overkill]

I haven't written anything substantive in a while. It's not that nothing interesting is going on in my life, but I haven't felt like commenting on it, for some reason. But, this story from my past is something I was thinking about recently, and I don't remember ever telling it, so here goes:

First off, back in 10th grade, I got into a bike accident, that caused me to lose most of my sense of smell. If it's strong, I can smell it, although a whole lot of things smell the same to me. So, anyways, this happened before puberty really hit in (I was a late bloomer), which will become important in a little bit.

Sometime in college, I noticed that I was getting red, irritated skin under my armpits. It itched like all get out, and was very uncomfortable. Figuring it was my deodorant causing the rash, I stopped using it. Sure enough the rash went away after a little while. Now, being as my sense of smell was all but gone, and had disappeared before puberty, the only reason I had used deodorant was that I knew it was Something That Men Do. I'm not a particularly active person, and I don't sweat all that much (at least, not under my arms...my hands and feet tend to be where most of my moisture ends up), so, no big deal, right?

Cut to a few years later. I had been out of the habit of using deodorant for quite some time now, but had never heard word one of complaint. I've been working in the press junket circuit for two years or so now, interviewing movie stars in round table interviews. One day, my immediate boss (who also happens to be technomonkey's older brother) comes to talk to me. He tells me that one of the studio publicists called, and told Laura (the president of the company) that they couldn't invite me anymore if something wasn't done about my body odor. It turns out that many of the celebrities had noticed and complained. What I didn't know was that my colleagues in the radio room had been complaining to each other pretty much since I started. My boss had noticed it a while ago, and was concerned that I had some sort of disease that caused it. All around me, people had been complaining that I stank, but no one had ever come to me about it. It took famous people noticing it before anything was done about it.

Long story short, I found a deodorant that doesn't cause me to break out, and everything's fine now (has been for a few years, and I've got at least one person I've elicited a promise from to tell me if that's changed). But, it's important to note that this was an issue that went on for years before anything was said to me. Family, friends, co-workers, strangers: no one mentioned this to me until that point. Everyone was either too embarrassed, or assumed that it was something that I couldn't do anything about, and that I was probably sick of hearing about it. I have no idea how many people there are whose first impression of me is colored by this. How many women thought, "Nice guy, but boy does he smell." How many job interviews ended with them thinking "He's qualified, but I don't want to have to deal with that odor day after day."

I feel like I should wrap this up with some sort of point. There are plenty that you can extract from this tale, but I'll leave it open to you to find the moral of the story...