So I read in the newspaper that old people smell.

Thanks a lot.

This article claims as soon as you hit 40, you start emitting an aroma of old age because of something called “noneal,” which comes from “fatty acids breaking down in the skin.”

The only way to avoid this is to “spritz on a youthful scent,” or plop over dead at 39.

I told my mother-in-law Ms. Larda about it, and she says she got no problem, because none of her fat is breaking down. She is carrying it all around, and she’s carrying it proud. And if she wants to smell better, she sticks a couple sprigs of mint in her cleavage.

Well, that’s no help. I used to be glad I didn’t run to fat, but now I realize maybe I got a problem following me around like a cloud of bad breath. And I got no cleavage to stick mint in. I will have to spritz.

Ms. Larda says I’m crazy. The only thing wrong with being old is that you die sooner, she says. But you ain’t going to fool God, no matter how you smell.

Well that’s true. When I was little, being old for my age was a good thing. My mama bragged to everybody how I had my first tooth when I was 2 months; I walked at 9 months; and I could potty by the time I was 1-and-a-half. I skipped second grade and I graduated from high school a year early. She was so proud.

And now that I’m old, I’m supposed to make a U-turn, rush backward, and pass myself off as a teeny-bopper.

 The entire world is in on this conspiracy. Ms. Larda and I go to Walgreen’s to pick up some toenail polish for me and some support hose for her. We go to check out and the cashier, who looks to be about 12-and-a-half, says, “What can I do for you, young ladies?” and smirks like he thinks we’re already senile.

Ms. Larda gives him the fish eye. “You need eyeglasses, boy toy?” she says.  “You’re wrong about ‘young’. And you might be wrong about ‘ladies.’”
“We could be transvestites,” I say.

 He got no answer for that.

 Afterwards I tell Ms. Larda he was probably trying to be nice. But Ms. Larda says we did him a favor because he’ll know better than to try that “young lady” bit on any other old bats.

She also says I should get this newspaper article out of my head. It was probably written by some little chickadee who’s way too young to emit a smell unless she eats at Pancho’s and don’t take her Bean-o, she says.

I don’t listen. Ms. Larda got no romantic life to speak of right now, but I got my gentleman friend Lust to worry about. It don’t matter that God might know how old I am; I don’t want to take a chance on Lust sniffing me and thinking about the Queen Of England.

The article says that you should “mask this essence of old person” with scent – but not rose or lavender, because that’s what your grandmother wore, and she was, no doubt, fatally old. You are supposed to go with a young, frisky, fruity smell. They recommend pink grapefruit.
 I don’t want to smell like no grapefruit.

 So I get myself over to Scent Sation Station. I glare around at all the clerks, in case one of them is thinking of calling me “young lady,” but they get the message and back off. Then I sniff all the perfumes and colognes – which are now called “body splashes.” They got cool coconut, marvelous mango, petit pear, cherry blossom, pulchritudinous pineapple … I put samples of them discreetly on my wrist and elbow and neck and bosom. I realize I smell like a house of ill repute in a Farmer’s Market.

So I go to the ladies’ room and scrub it all off. Then I go back and look again. The closest thing to grapefruit that ain’t grapefruit is “Sexy Sweet Lemonade.” I decide to go with that. It costs an arm and a leg, but if I got to smell youthful, this should do it.

Now to try it out.

Lust and I got a dinner date, but at the last minute he calls and says he’s held up with some beer delivery people (he owns the Sloth Lounge) and would I wait for him for a few minutes at his apartment. That is perfect, I think. So I spritz on my Sexy Sweet Lemonade – wrist, elbows, bosom, back of knee, and when I get to his place, I splash a little on the couch pillows and the bulb in the lamp on the end table, so the whole place will be full of my youthful scent.

I am sitting on the couch, leafing through a magazine when he bursts in the door, saying he is sorry he’s late, and – then he stops short. I smile mysteriously. He sniffs. And then he says, “That’s wonderful! But you didn’t have to do that.” I say “Huh?” and he says, “The place really needed it.”

And then he asks if I brought my own Lemon Pledge to dust with or did I find it under the kitchen counter.

So much for romance.

Well. After things settle down and I explain it all, and tell him about the noneal, Lust he says he don’t believe in it. It is the perfect sales pitch, he says to me. They invent a problem, tell you that you have it and then sell you something to fix it.

 He says I smell like essence of New Orleans and you can’t get no sexier than that.

The next day I bring over my Lemon Pledge and dust his place; that’s what turned him on anyway.