Do not smell this sandwich

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free smellsLike any long term married couple, we’ve eased into a nice routine and learned what categories each of us is lacking in. Like the comedian Sinbad said, we’re finally so old it takes two of us to make a complete human being. He has bad knees, I have bad shoulders. He reaches, I bend. I can’t see and he can’t hear, and neither one of us gives a damn about Dancing With the Stars. He knows when to leave me alone and I’ve always been annoying, so he’s used to that. It’s nice. We both tell people we’ve emotionally damaged one another so much, no one else will have us, so we’re pretty much stuck together until one of us makes the call to State Farm with the winning death certificate number.

As familiar as we are with one another, he still does things that make me wonder if we’ve ever met. He has this habit of handing me various objects and asking me to smell them. It’s disgusting and annoying.

“Hey, smell this mayo for me and tell me if it’s bad.”

“Hi. I’m Wendy, have we met? I not only hate mayo, I’ve never smelled anything someone handed me and asked me to smell since my Uncle Philip handed me a squirrel’s anal gland when I was nine and told me it was an olive, and told me to smell it to make sure.”

“I love your Uncle Philip.”

And then he usually goes on to ask me to smell the deli meat and bread as well. When he’s done inhaling the ingredients, he makes a sandwich and stops asking me to smell things for a while.

When I was working as a nurse, I lived in scrubs. I’d go to the grocery, K-Mart, the gas station, bed, the opera, wherever, in my scrubs. It never failed someone would come up and ask me a very pertinent medical question, just out of the blue, while I was perusing the tampon aisle in K-Mart. I never ceased to be amazed at how readily someone would discuss their bowel function with a complete stranger, just because the stranger happened to be wearing scrubs. I just kind of got used to it, and gave everyone the standard answer of “you should ask your doctor if you have questions.”

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Sometimes, being a female in a truck stop is as close as you get to wearing scrubs in public.

I was perusing the sandwich case at a small independent truck stop in Arizona. I was the only woman in the whole place, even the clerks were men. I wasn’t really paying attention to my surroundings (imagine that) as I was once again lost in the internal battle I have about cold-case sandwiches. I’ve yet to actually eat one, but I fear I may be missing out on some weird delicacy, so I look at them longingly, and touch a few, then I go get some yogurt and shame myself for being a wuss. Anyway, I was in the sandwich zone when a very tall trucker leaned across the case with a half-wrapped sandwich.

“Miss, could I get you to smell this for me and tell me if it’s good? The date says today, but I never trust ’em. Can’t smell too good, myself.”

Now, I’m pretty sure if I had been another big trucker-man, he wouldn’t have asked me to smell his sandwich. I immediately envisioned my Uncle Philip, handing me an anal gland. I almost blurted out, “You should ask your doctor if you have questions!” My eyebrow shot off into space and I must have given him a look of alarm, because he chuckled and said, “Did I scare you?” Which in my mind came out, “SMELL MY SANDWICH!”

I began to back away from the case, while giving a little fake sniff in the direction of his sandwich squirrel anal gland.

“It’s great. It’s fine. Your sandwich is fine.”

I really wanted to tell the guy if a sandwich was so dubious as to need the aid of the nostrils of a stranger, it may be best to forgo it, but George walked up before I was able to articulate.

“Hey, are you gonna actually get a sandwich this time, or are you just going to touch them and stack them in weird piles?”

“I don’t do that. And they’re not weird piles, they’re categories.”

“Are you getting a sandwich?”


“Well smell this one and see if it’s OK….”