There comes a moment in each of our lives when our sweat-stained, odor-absorbed workout gear enters the room before we do. In polite society, most of us swallow a small gag and deflect the conversation away from the assault on our noses.
Great authors* in history had no such compunction. After all, they are the astute observers of the world and compelling describers of how the senses take it all in.
And, just in case the literary allusions might go over your head, we’ve prepared a great author cheat sheet. We may never know if F. Scott Fitzgerald suffered from stinky workout gear. But we can imagine how he would have dealt with the offensive stench of his companions.
Now you can too.
F. Scott Fitzgerald: If it weren’t for the fact that I’ve been drunk for week, I daresay you smell of the nasty effluents of a rum factory yourself, old chap.
Mark Twain: When people tell me to exercise because it’s good for the body, why then, I tell them it’s right on par with whiskey and smoking to be good for the soul. I don’t right care for exercise when the result is the likes of a shirt such as yours, which has thoroughly and – without the trappings of polite society – offended my olfactory sensibilities.
Jane Austen: My idea of good company is the company of those who announce their arrival with quick wit, cleverness and a well-informed opinion of current events – not by the unappealing scent of their travel clothes.
Toni Morrison: The shirt takes on a life of its own much like the skunk who sets his own path with no regard for the story of his ancestors.
Hunter S. Thompson: You stink too much man, too much, too much.
Shakespeare: Do not draw mine attention, knave, for thine yeasty unwash’d apparel habit doth leave me whey-faced.
John Steinbeck: Our people are good people. For in the stench of their clothing and the gnawing in their guts they are but kind men and women out to survive and quell the wrath that builds when the scent overpowers the senses.
Charles Bukowski: I don’t hate the stink of your shirt. I just feel better when it’s not around. (Pours a drink.)
Gabriel Garcia Marquez: What matters is not that you’ve arrived from a painstaking journey with a blouse that smells of a burro’s behind. What matters is that you understand how the father, and the father of the father, and the father of the father of the father, and the father of the father of the father of the father arrived. In this way, you will search more than the stench; you will search the heart.
Rumi: The sweat is the body’s way of making room for us to drink our lives full of love.
James Joyce: And the scent that overpowered my senses as you breezed in the pub was an inhuman concoction of synthetic fabrics and human sweat and then I turned and I saw the horrific odor was associated with such a beautiful creature yes I was drawn and repulsed at the same time for how could I not immediately love you and how could I submit to living in the same small flat as your shirt and I have not more than a single room for us both to live and with that shirt yes with that shirt I shall not see my dream of our lives together transpire. Yes.
Ernest Hemingway: You stink.
Shel Silverstein: The shirt loved the boy. And the boy loved the shirt. When the boy would run, the shirt would shield him from the sun. When the boy would kayak, the shirt would provide comfort under his dry top. When the boy would ski, the shirt would add a layer of warmth. The shirt would give anything to the boy, and it did. The shirt gave its last and finest effort at fending off the sweat and the tears the boy offered… until the shirt could give no more.
* Yes, Shel Silverstein ranks among these scribes. Thank you for asking.