How can I tell my friend they stink?

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I was reminded of this question recently. Possibly only one thing is more excruciating for a kind-hearted person than telling someone they stink. The worse case would be having to tell them that their body stinks and their mind is full of smelly ideas too.

We may get there. I’m rusty on the bloggy stuff since I have been working like a rented mule. Today was my eighth day in a row of work, and through the miracle of salary, I get no additional oats. It’s okay. I’m going to be one very smart mule when I’m caught up; I’m very confident, in my mulish way.

I currently smell just fine, I bet, but the old dog has begun to smell like hamburger helper that didn’t work out. He doesn’t care, so there’s no point in berating him about it. Because this is the 86th sign of his demise, I just nuzzle him and tell him it’s curtains a bit more often.

So, assuming your stinky friend is not a very old dog, you may want to do them the favor of letting them know that they are aromatic in potentially an unintentional manner. It’s worth your effort to be gentle, particularly these days. People are depressed and depressed people let their care slip. They bathe less and skip steps because some days that soap weighs 300 pounds. It’s just one more damn thing on the camel.

Yersis had the best solution, and while I may have taught it to her, I think it is far too elegant to be my answer. She painted a scene in which she was riding in a car with a friend who had developed a sweaty horse smell. Her friend, I should mention, was not an actual horse. She asked the friend if she smelled bad. “Do you smell that? Is it me?”


In this way you call attention to the stink without making it an accusation.

If only it worked that way for stinky ideas.

I recently had an acquaintance of long standing self-immolate on social media because I had the temerity to ask them if they were sure about their facts. They were sure about their facts and they were sure that I was the enemy of reason and proceeded to argue with surprising vitriol against their ideas of my ideas. I may have trolled just a tad. Nobody’s perfect.

The thing is, the stinky suggestion really should work for ideas, but I don’t know if any of have the energy any more. “Do you see a Nazi in this car? Is it me?”

I’m not sure that will work as well, but I am, as always, willing to test drive my own suggestions. I will report back.

In a related scenario, I recently encountered a man with a plan. This is a very special case of stinky ideas. This man, who is very good-hearted in most ways, made a tiny error. When he saw me, he stated that I looked like I had a tan. Now, there is zero chance that I tanned since the last time he saw me, and without any thought about it, I said so. (If you have been keeping up with my minutia, the rented mule episodes were still going on). He made a really peculiar choice at that point and decided to double down on the fact that I looked more tan. Clearly, this is not about my actual skin tone, but about his desire to be correct, even about someone else’s skin damage.

After a pause I said, “I went to the pool yesterday.”

“There you go,” he looked very satisfied. It was a look I could not resist ruining.

“I went at five o’clock.”


I expect that the next time I see him he will be ready with facts about how it is possible to tan, just a bit, in the evening sun.

The man with the tan plan is an obvious exception to the stink alert. He would certainly agree that the smell is you. Emphatically. And forever.

Be careful out there, my stinky friends!!


Can’t stand the heat? Put a drink on ice and buy my book! Or subscribe to my piebald newsletter. You can read it with a mask on or mask off, but you cannot read it with a mask on your eyes.

Defective Pets, Inc.

Yes, this is another one--a cat that is no longer mine but is somehow in my home. Her eyes waggle when everything else is staying still and it makes me wonder if there is an earthquake inside her at all times. Seems likely. She smells like painted clay that is beginning to molder. That may sound nice, but it is not. We call her Egg, but that doesn't really capture her weird essence. If I had it to do over, I would insist we call her Three Egg Ominous.




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