Smell My Words

There are moments and things in life that should be preserved. The thing I want to preserve here is a smell. The smell is so foul, so dangerous, it would not be responsible of me to capture it with anything other than words.


tuna, guacamole sauce and cherry tomatoes

tuna, guacamole sauce and cherry tomatoes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Think of a tuna sandwich. Make it one with everything on it, lettuce, tomato, extra mayo. What the heck, let’s add pickles too. It’s a big sandwich, isn’t it? Bigger than you realize. This sandwich is a few inches short of six feet tall. It weighs close to two hundred pounds.

You might like tuna sandwiches. That is your prerogative. I think we could agree that no matter how we feel about tuna, a sandwich the size of ours would be particularly strong smelling.

I’m asking you to imagine our sandwich at such an unusual size because that is the size of the man who produced the smell I’m describing. The smell is half tuna sandwich, but it is more than simply tuna sandwich.

But Wait. That’s Not All.

Not only did this guy smell like the biggest, fishiest sandwich ever imagined, but he added the dimension of classic unwashed body odor. I’d summarize by saying that the man smelled like a tuna sandwich that made a living harvesting crops in the summer sun.

He kept coming around me. The first time he did, it startled me. I thought I was generating that aroma. A quick investigation cleared me of all charges. I identified the responsible party and put space between us. Whenever he was near me, I knew it. Let me assure you that if there is ever a race of carnivorous tuna sandwich men, they will never be able to capture and eat you as long as your sense of smell is intact.


It was important to me to describe the smell to you. I suffered the smell. What’s worse is that I suffered by not being able to say what needed to be said to the smell’s owner. Societal constraints are so constraining, aren’t they?  On the tiny chance that tuna sweat boy will find this, I am publishing what he needed to hear that night…

“Please tell me that you have a tuna sub in your pocket. That would be so much more normal than you smelling like this. After a few hours of turning around trying to figure out who is eating tuna near you, you have to have figured out it is you generating that smell.”

“The compassionate side of me says maybe you have some sort of condition that causes that smell. I can’t imagine what that is, but it is possible. The cynic says it is possible, but the rank sweat smell makes it clear that you and soap are not friends. You should make amends. Soon.”

“Until you are reunited with soap, I must inform you that a team of attorneys is drawing up a restraining order to keep you 1500 feet away from me. That distance will increase by 100 feet every day until you take a shower. Please do us both a favor. Start by standing over there.”


19 Comments on “Smell My Words”

  1. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    It would put me off tuna forever. But then again, it would put me off body odor forever. What a hideous combo. A veritable perfect storm of smell. Perhaps he thought the tuna would mask his odor?

  2. Oh, my word. But there’s no better feeling than realizing that you are NOT the source of the smell, am I right? Except maybe for the feeling you get when smelly tuna man goes away.

  3. Don’t tell me his name is Charlie. Don’t. Sounds like Charlie the Tuna doesn’t have anything on this guy.

  4. Wendy says:

    I know the perfect woman for this guy. She spent some memorable time in our office. We had to open the windows in 40 degree weather. Freezing was preferable – no contest. A few days later, I chanced to pick up some paperwork that had been in her possession. It, too, was permeated in her signature fragrance. Like the song (sort of) goes “I can’t seem to forget you; your stench stays in my mind.”

    • Snoring Dog Studio says:

      If he’s gay, I know a guy who’d be perfect for him. When I was in college, my suite-mate had a boyfriend whose feet smelled so awful, you could probably find flowers wilting in another state. It put limburger cheese to shame. Limburger cheese gave up and asked to be thrown away, in fact. The smell was beyond anything you could imagine. It could cross all barriers. I’m sure that even lead or steel would have melted when hit by that odor.

      • Wendy says:

        This was more of a desperately-in-need-of-mucking-out-pigsty crossed with landfill-during-a-weeklong-heatwave plus a tinge of something that defies description.

  5. Debbie says:

    If I live to be 500, I’ll never understand folks like this. Can’t they smell themselves?? Don’t they know they REEK?? You’re kinder than I, suggesting that perhaps he has a condition that causes this stench. I tend to realize that, even in the Depression (or so I’m told — I, of course, never lived through that!), people were able to wash with soap and water. And if worse comes to worse, take a scented dryer sheet and drag it across yourself, Tuna Man!

  6. T E Stazyk says:

    IMO this remains the number one reason why people hate public transportation. And they always sit by me!

  7. Lea Ault says:

    There are some unfortunate homeless people who hang out in my local library. You can tell where they are without seeing them because the smell of unwashed body plus the mildewy smell of clothing that has gotten wet, then half-dried, then got wet again, etc. hovers in the air in about a 10-foot radius around them. I thought there was nothing worse but old tuna would be worse. Actually I just thought of something worse – you know when someone inadvertently steps in dog poop (happens a lot in the fall when the leaves hide the poop) and then they’re walking around and everyone else is checking the bottoms of their shoes because we can all smell it….

  8. Michelle Gillies says:

    I once worked with a guy with such horrible body odour I could not enter the room to work with him. He was one of the cleanest and most well groomed people I have ever met. He had to be aware of the body odour because he added a gallon of some cologne to try to mask it. Seriously, he was the nicest guy and easy on the eyes, but I couldn’t go near him without gagging. If I absolutely had to go into his space I would hold my breath and drop off whatever and keep on going. He would call and ask me if I was pissed at him and I would have to say “no, I just had something on my mind” and apologize to him for being rude. Crap … my nose is remembering … yuck!

  9. Laura says:

    If you see this guy again, you should offer him some Deo Perfume Candy.

  10. Betty says:

    “Tuna sweat boy”

  11. Dang it, Oma! Now I need you to buy my a new lunch. My tuna salad is scaring me.

  12. Pie says:

    This reminds me of one of your earliest posts about a man who stank out the restaurant your family were eating in. You, Omawarimom and Omawarison were gagging. That was the post, once I stopped crying with laughter, that made me sign up.

    Public transport is a great place to play stinky roulette. Lucky be the one who finds themselves next to someone like Tuna sweat man. Could you smell the mayo too?

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