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August 2, 2013

Smelly Gaijin, Smelly Gaijin, What Are They Feeding You?




The shame of the Caucasian race
(Not me, by the way)


The other day I arrived at my private office at school to find a petite and pretty Japanese chick sitting in it. What with my being one of the world’s most vocal champions of the virtues and healing powers of Japanese chicks, you might think this a most serendipitous event, and yet I was not happy.

Before explaining why I was not happy, I suppose I ought to clarify how a Japanese chick got into my private office prior to my arrival in the first place. Like most full-time faculty members in Japan, I have a private office and a few dozen advisees. Like very few of my ilk, I have made available to those advisees a spare key so that they can have a private place to relax and work on assignments and such, as our campus is quite compact and offers too few such spaces. That’s just the kind of man Josh Muggins is. That is the way Josh Muggins rolls. Josh Muggins joins the not-quite-late Bob Dole in saying “Long live illeism!”
 

As to why I was not happy, well, it was July. As is my wont, I had just finished “commuting by bicycle,” which is to say that I pushed my bicycle up the long, Tour-de-France-worthy slope that separates my apartment from the campus under an unblinking late-morning sun and humidity approaching ninety percent.

I did this wearing the t-shirt that I had donned after my shower the previous evening—the t-shirt that I had worn while drinking wine and watching The Daily Show, the t-shirt I had tossed and turned in all night, the t-shirt I had done my morning exercise regimen in—because what, after all, is the point of putting on a fresh shirt when the commute is going to make you sweat clear through it, anyway? In Japan, in July, it’s a laundry suicide mission.

Thus, I greeted this charming young Japanese lady in my office with the thinnest of smiles. I dearly wanted to embark on my usual post-arrival routine, i.e.: lock the door, strip off the offending shirt, soap up my whole upper body—with special attention to the armpits—using the sink which our school thoughtfully provides, dry myself with the same revolting shirt that I have just stripped off, varnish my armpits with Mennen Speed Stick deodorant (menthol), take the fresh shirt out of my backpack, put it on, stuff the now too repulsive for words t-shirt into the space between the window and the screen, seal the window shut, unlock the door, and prepare to welcome the world. But this I could not do in her presence.

I really had to pee as well, but could not walk down narrow corridors to a public restroom in my sweaty state, so I was stuck there, waiting for her to make her own restroom visit, at which time, I whipped through the routine just in time for her return.

* * *

Japanese people don’t sweat, or at least, not nearly so much as honkies, and on those rare occasions when they do sweat, they don’t smell all that bad. Or at least, they smell way less awful to whites than whites do to them.

I’ve had Japanese advisees stumble upon my Mennen Speed Stick, and they are always mystified by it, as if it were a metallic chunk of the Roswell spacecraft. Deodorant is not wholly unknown here: Japanese girls will apply a lightly scented spray to their pits on occasion. But the concept of vigorously rolling some viscous substance over the whole area to combat odor is beyond their grasp.

I once read somewhere—a where that I can no longer find, but that I’m sure was entirely reliable, maybe—that Asians have a more developed sense of smell than other races do; I seem to remember reading somewhere that ladies have a more acute sense of smell than gentlemen (of which they make considerable use in mate selection); and I think we can take it as a given that youngsters have more robust senses of everything—smell and condom presence being but two examples—than us olds.

So put all that together, and who has the most highly developed sense of smell in the whole happy-go-lucky human family? Young Asian women, that’s who—coincidentally, the very type of human on whom making a good impression is most important to me. So you see my predicament.

This is an issue that I face on a daily basis, but all the more so in July, when the humid but pleasantly cool rainy season ends and bona fide Japanese summer wraps us in its steamy, Venusian death-hug.

* * *

It really depends, though, on the degree of comfort I feel with a particular female advisee. Also on how out of shape I am at any given time.

A few weeks before the encounter described above, I had felt the need for a shirt change during the ten-minute break between classes, only to find a different girl occupying the office.

“Look that way!” I commanded, and then proceeded to strip off my shirt and go through the whole shameful sequence a few feet behind her back.

“Don’t look!” I said during the drying phase.

“I’m not looking!”

“No matter how much you want to turn around and look, don’t do it! Okay?”

“I have no intention of looking!”

“Of course you want to look. But you must fight it! Fight it, I say!”

“Ahhhhh!”

My favorite advisee of all time, who graduated two years ago, worked part-time as a public pool lifeguard. I figured that that was almost the same as being a doctor, that she had to see middle-aged male bodies far more reprehensible than mine on a daily basis, so I cheerfully pranced around in front of her in all degrees of undress, which she handled with aplomb. But I digress. We are gathered here today to hear all about the loathsomeness of my gaijin scent, not the loathsomeness of my gaijin form.

* * *

Before I even get to my private office, I have to run a gauntlet of sorts to dodge those hyper-sensitive Japanese female noses.

The bike-park is located near the front gate of the university. From there, I have to penetrate the main building, get up one flight of stairs, and sneak down a long corridor without encountering a young female.

Until 2011, this wasn’t so hard to do. I simply took a circuitous route to the building’s back entrance, avoiding the point of entry used by most students. And since the back entrance was nearer my office anyway, I had fairly few steps to go once inside. But a few years ago, the university had the brilliant idea of setting up a bus stop inside the campus, so that nowadays, at unpredictable intervals, dozens of students are disgorged directly in front of what had theretofore been my private access point. That was when I realized how much God truly enjoys my humiliation.

Many is the summer morning when I find myself halfway between the front and rear entrances and hear a bus roaring up behind me. At such moments, I recall the card game Hearts that I often played in my youth. I can either play the crappy hand I’m dealt and hope for the best (that is, double back and use the front door, inevitably meeting a few girls but perhaps not any pretty ones), or “shoot the moon” (i.e., panic-sprint like Michele Bachmann in hopes of getting in the back door just ahead of the bus hordes).

* * *

I find I still have many more anecdotes to unfurl regarding my revolting summertime smell and my aversion to being caught smelling that way by Japanese chicks. I really wanted to tell you about the even more perilous morning commute I used to make back in my NU days, where the trek to my office culminated in a slow elevator ride.

But I sense the reader tires. It is August, after all, and here we are well into the second thousand words of this drivel. To hell with it, gentle reader. Let us take a nap, on our respective cool naugahyde sofas, and stew in our respective juices till it be autumn.