There are tough dates, and then there are those evenings that are just the pits
Memories of good smells — and bad ones
Anyone who has ever watched a romantic comedy or has an active Tinder account will know that the dating game is a kaleidoscope of misadventures. If you are lucky you find someone who finds your face and personality pleasing and grants you access to their secret garden. If you’re not, you end up like me. As is the case with many of these things, this impending mishap started the same way most dating debacles do, with matching right swipes on Tinder. After a flurry of messages spent agonising over how to come across as nonchalant and witty, a meeting was confirmed. It went well enough but a follow-up was required to confirm the first date’s results, so I invited her to the movies.
The plan seemed simple enough: leave work a little early, change at home, arrive at her house smelling like something you would want to put your tongue on (thanks, new cologne) and whisk her off for a night of laughter and romance.
The spanners had other ideas.
Having left work much later than anticipated, I arrived home with just enough time to realise that I needn’t have bothered. With no time to do anything other than frantically fail to locate my bottle of smellnice, I fled my house hoping to make it to hers before receiving a passive-aggressive text asking whether or not we were still on for the night. Fortunately, a string of Sunday afternoons spent watching Lewis Hamilton ensured that I was outside her gate just three minutes after I had said I would be.
The problem with being nervous is that it throws off your comic timing. Having spent far too much time racing the clock, my nerves had become particularly frayed. As my gorgeous partner for the evening slid into the passenger seat she made some offhand comment. Doing my most incompetent Jimmy Carr impression I cracked a joke that she didn’t hear and topped it off with a high five … as she was coming in for a hug. Awks.
There is undoubtedly some pop psychology quote about losing when one admits defeat and I was not ready to give up. A few deep breaths remedied my jokes and by the time we arrived at Sandton City, I felt like I was back in good form. The conversation flowed like a surprisingly good wine given its price point.
The Devil, however, was not finished with me yet. At some point during our conversation I made a gesture that involved me lifting my arms, and was gut-punched by the smell of concentrated manual labour. It evoked memories of a high-school gym after a rugby match in 34° weather. It smelt like I’d used a cologne called Sex Panther whose ingredients included triple-distilled sweat from that burly Scottish bloke in those old Lunch Bar adverts.
Spending the night with my arms pinned to my sides was not a workable solution. A friend who was attending the screening noticed my predicament but, in what I felt was an act of extreme carelessness, had left her underarm spray at home.
Emergency lights were flashing so brightly in my mind that I couldn’t concentrate on what my date was saying. All I saw was the moment when her sumptuous mouth would contort itself in an attempt to figure out where that smell was coming from.
Something had to be done, so when we found our seats, I excused myself and high-tailed it to the men’s room. I considered rushing to Clicks, but it was far enough away that I would return having to explain why I had taken so long in the bathroom, and that’s always awkward. I attempted a few splashes of soapy bathroom water to no avail.
Things were getting desperate when my brain latched on to an idea.
The thought process went as follows: the sweat was being caused by the continual secretion of moisture. Baby powder works on the under arms because it absorbs moisture, thus I needed to find something that fulfilled a similar function. Salt causes dehydration and therefore must absorb moisture. Being at the movies, there was an abundance of salt. If I could just apply some to the affected areas, all my problems would be solved.
So with the clock ticking, I dashed off to the salt counter, shook liberal amounts of my powdered saviour into both my hands and patted my armpits like a grateful puppy. The lady sprinkling butter flavouring onto her popcorn looked at me like I’d just sprouted a second head.
Eureka! A quick couple of smell checks confirmed my hypothesis. It was mildly sticky and uncomfortable but I no longer smelt like Frodo Baggins when he reached Mount Doom.
To make a long story less long, that was the last day I ever saw that girl, and mentioning “salt bae” to my friends leaves them curled on the floor rolling around like deranged tennis balls. LS
THE PROBLEM IS, BEING NERVOUS THROWS OFF YOUR COMIC TIMING