It is always with sadness that I admit that the French do smell. I love everything else about the country so intensely that it is sort of a shame to have to defend their stereotypical lack of daily hygiene, because the truth of the matter cannot be evaded for it is just a mere fact of life in France that public transportation would be much more pleasant with a gas mask. Thankfully however, the French make up for their pervasive body odor with an over-indulgence in perfumes and colognes, and while it doesn’t exactly fix the problem, it is at least a polite effort to cover it up.
There is a non-shocking correlation between water costs, lousy European showers, and smelly people, and I just learned that France is not in a league of its own. Greece could take on France in a body odor dual, pit to pit. In the first few miles of running during the Athens Classic Marathon last week, I quickly learned that Greek men stunk, and I mean badly. A fascinating experience it was, running behind someone who left an air stream of odor behind them that was smellier at the start of the race (and start of the day) than I myself could possibly smell if I went for three weeks of workouts without showering.
Needless to say, flying from Athens to Paris on a small plane wasn’t as good of an idea as I anticipated. Assigned a middle seat, I gently settled into my spot to find smoke stench smell to my right, and a stinky Greek to my left. The Greek’s every exhalation was so horrendously pungent that it made me wish that I spoke Greek better as to offer him my own toothbrush as a sacrifice just to make the next three hours of my life bearable. Surprisingly, just before take-off, a stranger walked up and informed my smelly neighbor that he was in fact in the wrong seat. Inside, I rejoiced. Actually, I did more than rejoice: my heart skipped with a smile inside.
And then I fell flat on my face. The kind man who had recently become my new seat-mate smelt worse than the first man. Much worse. His scent surrounded him like a protective bubble, and unfortunately for me, the entirety of my seat was included in his dominating radius.
Stinky men on small airplanes make me appreciate the things that I already have that I didn’t know that I should appreciate. Life gives us smelly seat-mates sometimes, and it best to appreciate life for what it gives us, because, as my flight today demonstrated, the smell can always be worse. Sometimes, what we wish for isn’t necessarily better than what we already have, so, for what you do have, give thanks.