It’s time for some true confessions, folks.
Fact: Sometimes, in my mad rush to get out the door, I forget to put on deodorant in the morning.
Fact: This happens more often than I’d like to admit.
Fact: I bought a mini-deodorant to put in my purse for these very occasions.
Fact: Sometimes I forget and leave my purse in the car.
Fact: If heated and cooled, deodorant will, in fact, melt and break apart into little deodorant crumbles that will then stick themselves to my wallet, my keys, my day planner, my iPod, and my Kindle case.
I am nothing if not a classy lady.
It was about the time I got to the food court next door at the hospital that I noticed that everything in my purse smelled like Secret, and I realized what had happened. I took out my purse to pay for my food, and there it was, my deodorant-caked wallet. Everyone in the hospital, probably everyone in the zip code, could smell the unmistakable aroma of Secret Powder Fresh.
I desperately wanted to turn around to the people behind me. Make a joke. Explain it. Defend myself. “I’m not that kind of person,” I wanted to tell them.
Never mind that they were complete strangers. Never mind that this was the food court of the hospital next door, and they were probably thinking of their mom’s chemo, or their daughter’s medical procedure, or how they were going to get through the next 12 hours of their on call shift.
It felt like the most important thing in the world that I say something to make myself look better.
Without even thinking about it, I worry about being “that kind of person.” (What that kind of person is, I can never pin down.) The person who’s not put together, who’s slightly trashy, who’s oblivious to the embarrassing things she’s doing.
I need to say something. I need to crack a joke to make the situation better, to improve someone’s opinion. “This embarrassing thing that just happened to me, I noticed it, too,” I am saying, “so let’s laugh about it together so that you don’t laugh at me behind my back.”
Richard Foster, who ostensibly has never reeked of Secret Powder Fresh, writes that often “our speech is a frantic attempt to explain and justify our actions.” Instead of explaining, justifying, making jokes, he suggests that we simply do what we do without any explanation. “We note our sense of fear that people will misunderstand why we have done what we have done. We seek to allow God to be our justifier.”
That’s easy for you to say, Richard Foster. You’ve never had deodorant crumble all over your belongings in a public place.
But I try it anyway, shutting my mouth.
The cashier rings me up. I say nothing. I smile, pay for my food, and walk away.