Clean Living in the Great Midwest


by JRM

May 2, 2008

So I was at the mall with my kids the other day and they convinced me to go sit in the circle of shame. You folks might refer to it as the “play area”. Of course, this is that small piece of real estate at the mall that is surrounded by molded plastic, carpeted with that weird spongy crap and populated by people who sit there uncomfortably and wish that they could be getting a rectal exam instead.

Of course, the fact that the carpet prevents even the most retarded of children from receiving head injuries when they fall off of the “playground equipment” provides an opportunity for heavily tattooed people with suspect dental habits to ignore their children for a couple of hours. In short, it sucks. Like everything else in my life that sucks I sit back and try to make the best of it. I send texts to Jeff Kay; I try to map out my upcoming week at work; I do everything within my power to ignore the morbidly obese woman’s repeated demands that “Jesse” should “get off that little girl’s face.” I am unable to block out the woman’s voice and look up. Sadly, “the little girl’s face” happened to belong to my daughter. I sprung up and removed the little white-trashlet like some barnacle from the side of a ship and went back to my plastic throne of sadness.

Suddenly, I was rocketed back to 1992. I was 15 years old. The Skins had just won the Super Bowl and President Bush had recently barfed in some Japanese dude’s lap. I was just finishing up the phase known as “disgustingly awkward” and anxiously looking forward to having the privilege of driving a 1982 Mercury Lynx to school. I was spending a lot of time with a girl named Breanne Kelly. She was smart, pretty and completely devoid of morals. She was every 15 year olds dream. I loved a lot about Breanne…Her wit, her charm…her willingness to put certain parts of my anatomy in her mouth. However, the thing I loved most about Breanne was her smell. Wait, actually I loved that other thing more. The thing that I loved the second-most was her smell.

Spearmint gum, some unidentifiable perfume, makeup, hair care products and cigarettes…there you have it ladies, the secret to the 1992 version of my heart. I have no idea what you might be able to accomplish with that information. I am also relatively certain that the secret to the 1992 version of my heart just replaced something else in your brain. Go ahead and blame me when you can’t remember your social security number. Anyway, throw in the smell of fine Corinthian leather car seats and you have the smell of my teenage angst and awkwardly developing sexuality. Poor Breanne.

Now, 16+ years later, the smell was back. Maybe she was back. Maybe I had a chance at redemption. Maybe this time would be different. Maybe I’m not actually married with two children and a mortgage. I slowly turn my head with great excitement. It turns out the intoxicating odor was coming from a 52 year-old man with a “#8” t-shirt on his back and a wad of chaw in his face. Goddamnit. I’ve certainly never been attracted to a middle aged man before…not even accidentally.

I stole one more look at the guy, knowing that whenever I thought back to that fond smell I would now see his face. It was all ruined. As if it was a personal gift from God, my head kept turning. The smell wasn’t coming from him at all. I finally turned my body to see that the “fragrance” was being pumped out of the Deb clothing store behind me. It appears that Deb Shops, Inc provides clothing for the “fashion-forward” teenager. I don’t have any clue what the fuck “fashion-forward” means, but I know what it smells like. Someone was paid a great amount of money to investigate, design, manufacture and distribute the idea that “fashion-forward” smells like a chain-smoking-border-line-promiscuous 15 year old girl from the early 90’s. I couldn’t have been more proud. I just wish that they had called me. I could’ve saved them a boatload of cash.



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