A Scent Offering

Today my computer guy came to make sure my laptop would be good to go for Ireland. With dental, fluid, and computerly checkups now done, all I have left from that list is an eye exam.

Waiting for dude, I was a veritable wreck of vulnerability and mortification. I already get nervous when expecting anyone from my outer circles into the inner sanctum, but this time, on top of that, my toilet box stank (with the undeniable smell of my pee, aged suddenly almost to gaggifying levels — ack!). I thought emptying it might help — a calculated risk — but alas, that only stirred up the fumes. So I sprayed Poo-Pourri all over the bowl . . . and lid . . . and the whole treehouse floor . . . and the balcony and door, for good measure. I followed that up with body mist on myself, to cover any splashes from the emptying procedure.

Still, there was no getting around the pungent wafts of old pee, now accented with citrus and other proprietary scent blends.

I met computer guy at his car. He admired the treehouse as we approached it — “Inviting!” — but as he settled in to work, I observed him sniffing discreetly, even with the door open. How bad was it? (How adjusted to the stench was I?) Why hadn’t I warned him right away, made light of it?

After a while, during a sniffy gap in small talk, I nonchalantly threw out there, “Sorry if it stinks. I just emptied the toilet this morning, and . . . .” I kicked at it.

“It’s not that bad.”

No pretending now that he didn’t smell it!

I wanted to believe his reassurance, but I fidgeted. Why did these kinds of things affect me so much? Did I think someone wouldn’t like me because my treehouse toilet was a little odiferous? And if someone was as shallow as that, so what? It would only signal me to usher them out of my life at the earliest convenience. Good to know, and good riddance.

I strong-armed through my filter of insecurities to try to read how he really felt. A miracle: to an outside observer, he would have all the appearance of calmness and focus and kindly disposal toward me. He wasn’t visibly choking. . . . His features remained pleasant and his conversation mild. We discussed a shared love of maté. I asked after his cat. He talked about how he finally got his wife to drive a car.

Though my embarrassment lingered, I felt a rush of gratitude toward him and a hint of pride in myself for Handling It.

“That’s so great you got this treehouse to stay in,” he said. “I bet the tree is happy to support you.”

You know, I bet it is. I have always loved trees.

I’ve been watching myself in little moments of stress, and from a certain perspective it gets pretty funny. As I woke the other morning, I pictured myself waking beside someone again — wondered how that might ever happen. But my hair probably looked terrible!

Wait . . . what? Where did that come from?! Did I really think that someone wouldn’t like me after a night of passion or cuddling because my hair was sticking up . . . ?! What kind of . . . ? Hahahahaha! No one who truly cared about someone would stop caring because of the way their hair looked! Or anything else, for that matter!

I thought back to other moments of insecurity and shot them all down with the same laughter. My slight weight gain from eating too well with too little exercise lately, my sometime social awkwardness, the fact that I chew my cheeks as a nervous habit, or pick my nose when I’m alone, or have the audacity to fart and poop and bleed every month: did any of them make me less deserving of love? Hahaha, no! Furthermore, none of those things would faze me in the least with other people. Why did I faze myself when I thought someone else might know? Why would I accept that kind of judgment? Ridiculous! How had I carried such baggage so far?

This isn’t to say that shame won’t still wriggle into my arms like a dog you thought you were done petting. It’s just that any sane person is going to be fine with any other person doing all the human things. I expect nothing less, among those allowed into my inner sanctum.