Tuesday, June 13, 2006

I Smell

Still sick, but I managed to drag my sick-ass to work and sit in front of my computer, sick, and leave the sick voicemails and cough cough very loudly and give the sick watery-eyed look to everyone around me and hope that my boss lets me go home early. But no such luck thus far. Because here I am writing this entry, still at work, still sick.


“You’re late.”


“You’re late, and now I smell.”


“You’ll see. Just remember, it’s all your fault.”


I hang up my cell phone with what I call the “Hollywood flip,” that way that celebrities like Paris Hilton snap their flip phones shut with one hand so it makes a satisfying slap, and head out the door towards the Gas-Guzzler pulled at the curb. I slam the door with a dull thud.

We’re halfway down the block before he cocks his head, wrinkles his nose and turns to me with a look of disgust.

“What is that smell?”

“I told you! I told you! It’s your fault!”

He pauses to sniff the air surrounding me. “It’s like, some strange food.”

“Is it that bad?” I stick my nose into the collar of my shirt and take a whiff.

“Er, no. It just…smells like food,” he says, the wrinkle not ironing out of his forehead. What is it?”

“That,” I poke my finger at him, “is what you’re gonna have to get used to if you plan on hanging out with me, or any Korean person for that matter,” a smug smile spreads across my face.

“What is it?”

“It’s kimchi jjigae.”


“You were late! I was hungry! My mom was making kimchi jjigae, so I had some! Now shut up!”

Apparently it’s not just the kimchi jjigae because the next time I got into a “white” car, despite a lack of kimchi jjigae in my immediate vicinity for weeks, my friends sniffed at me quizzically.

“You smell Korean.”

The more seasoned “Asian infiltrators” can identify the scent with ease.

Last night, I’m slurping down some sort of strange fish soup concoction my mother had brewed in a vain attempt to cure whatever it is that is ailing me. I pause in between slurps.

“You know, it’s not just the kimchi. Sluuuurp. My friends say I smell even when I haven’t eaten any kimchi.”

“Which friends?”

“My white friends.”

My mother sits back, draws a long sigh and loses herself for a moment in deep thought that draws lines across her brow. “Korean people just smell,” she concludes. She shrugs and continues into her meal.

I guess that’s that then.



Anonymous -B said...

i don't fuckin smell, speak for yourself...

3:02 PM  
Anonymous Matt said...

Funny post... but I think you're over-sensitive to it. I mean, if you tell someone "I smell!" and then hop in their car, you're almost inducing them to smell something!

But yes, if you eat a big bowl of garlicky, spicy food, it'll be on your breath... and if you eat a lot of it every day (like curry) it will be in your sweat, too.

I'm white, and my sense of smell is admittedly not that acute, but I don't think "Korean people just smell". I've been around a variety of people through learning tae kwon do, and have an ex-girlfriend who ate a pretty traditional Korean diet, and haven't noticed any common persistent smell. Some individuals are exceptions.... I know a couple people with, shall we say, distinctive odors... but neither is Korean!

PS, why are you going to work when you're sick and you already gave notice?


4:23 PM  
Anonymous km said...

aww, it's ok, when we hang out and i pick u up, i'll just make sure all my windows are rolled down so it's all good =P

9:23 PM  
Anonymous carolita said...

Kim Chi will make anyone smell. I once took a doggy bag of kim chi home from a ramen place, in a plastic tub in a brown paper bag, and nobody wanted to sit near me. It stunk up the area all around me, made me smell like a homeless person.

When my boyfriend goes away for two months every summer, it's my kimchi-fest. I eat it practically every night.

Apparently it's incredibly good for you, too, and I swear by a bowl of it at bedtime when a cold is coming on. Usually works.

I'm not even Korean. I'm half German/Swedish, half Ecuadorian.

I discovered kim chi when my brother started eating it. Guess how I noticed? Because he smelled!

8:28 AM  
Blogger threetoedsloth said...

My boyfriend is Korean, and admittedly just last weekend, there was a mysterious smell. I sniffed around his face to figure out where it was coming from while he got all self-conscious, and at last he said it. He had just eaten a mountain of kimchi.

9:23 AM  
Blogger Seth said...

My fiance sometimes smells. Not bad, but distinctly Asian. White people smell like BO and I think Asians smell like Asians. Just generalities but showers, I hear, do wonders.

9:53 AM  
Anonymous L said...

I should try one of those every now and then...

12:13 PM  

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