This is from a while ago, so the person who inspired it has all but been forgotten. Still I think it's nice to share with women who have experienced the same, and men who may not realize they have too.
At first, I couldn't smell it, because it had been so gradual, the buildup. But I did sense it growing stronger, and I knew it wasn't good.
Once you smell chauvinism up close, you never forget it. But you always hope you never have to smell it again. Almost as much as you can't believe that this latest one, the one you thought was a promising endeavor, emits it. It's like some kind of cologne many men wear, and they don't know how to live without it. Because it protects them, validates them, makes them feel stronger somehow. Even when nothing they can do--short of looking at themselves--would make them so.
Anyway, it smells. To someone insecure, it smells good. Because it smells like a kindred spirit. But when a person gets their wits about them, they find the smell gives them a headache. Like I have now.
The thing is, it's something they have to put on every day. They like the smell of it--it is part of their identity. It attracts insecurity and keeps it as long as it lasts.
If I told them to stop wearing it, they would look at me like I asked them to stop brushing their teeth. They can be wildly successful, incredibly smart, tender, silver tongued in many ways. But it is pretty obvious, pretty fast, that they pack that stuff, everywhere they go.
It is no longer sold or advertised all over the world. You have to come from a specific set of countries, or rural areas of more, to inherit it. And yet, many people don't realize that they are wearing it except, almost instinctually, those who are do know how to spray less on when they first meet someone strong. They tone it down so you don't smell it right away. Even if I don't realize it as the smell grows, a few days later, I remember. Smell and memory are linked you know.
Sometimes it takes waking up the next day, listening to some music, meditating, getting back in your own skin, in your own bed, in your own dream's aftermath. Sometimes it takes unpacking some clothes he touched, as you look at them, you rewind the tape, replay the lines, remember some of feelings you felt when he said the things he said, and that smell, it just emits itself, all around you, again. And you know, you just know.
You know it when you smell it. And once you know what it means, you can't take it back. And neither can he.