Saturday, 28 June 2014

Man Talk: The smell of a woman

There is that point when you are in a woman’s space and it intrudes in that space.
It’s not a smell. It’s a whiff. A very brief but momentarily assaulting whiff. It sneaks in and out before you can put your finger on it, before you can even fully register and comprehend its presence.
By the time you raise your head up and turn you nose in the air like a bloodhound to grasp it, it’s gone, and you wonder if you imagined it.
But you didn’t, you smelled something off, that strange smell that isn’t quite a smell because a smell is too strong a word to define it. It’s a whiff.
The building I work in houses a company that has a small battalion of sales executives.
Most of them are girls in their mid-20s to early 30s. I see the hunger in the eyes of these women. They ooze it. You know that sales is more than just a job by looking at their dress code; dressing to them is a tool of trade, a technique.
Normally, I can tell which part of their bodies these women think are their strengths by how they dress.
The women who have faith in their boobs will most likely pick choose tops with plunging necklines. The leggy ones will wear these short skirts. The ones with those lovely chins will tie their hair up to accentuate those well-crafted chins.
The ones with the big bums will wear pants or skirts so tight you couldn’t push a coin between the fabric and their skin.
The word ‘strongholds’ comes to mind. And they all wear those impossible high heels then they go out and they get a sale dressed like that because I hear that people buy into the sales person before they buy the product. So what, you made a sale because the client loved your cleavage? Isn’t a sale a sale?
It’s not uncommon for me to find myself sharing the elevator with these women and that’s when I sometimes get that whiff. It’s seldom, but when it happens it hits me hard, like a Pay As You Earn.
I’m in a lift with these two very well- dressed, distinguished looking women, it’s mid-morning and there in the confines of the elevator is that fleeting but sharp whiff.
I look at these two dolled up girls and I wonder who is carrying the smoking gun. It’s incomprehensible; one of them can’t possibly be emitting that slight, far-away body odour, they look too smart for that. But someone in the elevator is, and it’s not me.  I smell of Hugo Boss.
I know it’s not me because I don’t do enough to break an actual sweat; I come to the office and sit and write the whole day. But they are under the hot, insane Nairobi sun, and they sit in the heat of cabs or their cars. So it must be one of them. 
I was told some women have body odour that doesn’t go away despite liberal application of perfume and deo. There are also some women who have sloppy hygiene. Those who wear the pants in the wrong fabric. Or who ignore their thrush. Or who don’t take extra care during their menses. Or those who don’t shave their armpits or nether regions in hot weather because, perhaps, they are members of a church that forbids it.
We know these things, ladies. We also can tell when you smell off. And I can tell you here that the most disappointing thing is a woman who looks good but has a body odour. That whiff that reminds you of urea mixed with lime and left out in the sun for a bit. It’s a deeply disappointing smell.
The last time I wrote here that I think every woman should shower at least twice a day, women almost ate my liver for lunch! They were enraged! “Where do you get off, Biko?” they screeched. But I still stand by those words; women should shower at least twice a day and it doesn’t matter if you sleep alone at night or you sleep with a man. Watu lazima waoge (Women must bathe) twice a day!
A man can get away with a slight odour, which can be put down to ‘manly smell’, but not a woman. A woman can’t, and I repeat, can’t have a sweat patch under her arm.
There is profound beauty in a woman looking immaculate and smelling good. And she doesn’t even have to shower in Channel no.5. Sometimes all she has to do is get a Gillette and shave, or wear the right knickers when it’s hot… hell, how about not wearing any if it’s causing hygiene issues?
A woman can throw on the best power suit, or stand in a pair of the best-looking wedges, but if she has that slight body odour then none of these will matter. Everything bites the dust. That’s just how it is. And this isn’t a gender debate.
It’s a hygienic malfunction that needs an intervention. A clean woman who smells good is a pleasure; it’s a pleasure to share the elevator with you. It’s a pleasure to share the office with you. It’s a pleasure to share a meal with you. And it’s certainly a pleasure to share a bed with you.
So scrub up ladies and smell like a flower if you work hard to look like one.

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