Dear E. Jean,
I'm a lawyer who is seeing a kind, generous, sweet, gainfully-employed man. But in conversations with friends, I refer to him as a "smothering barnacle." I also actively avoid kissing him, can’t stand the way he smells, and his baby kisses on my forehead make me want to scratch his eyes out.
I'm almost 37, never been married, and he is a great guy, but he smells so bad (to me) that I can’t bear to be near him, though he'd probably smell irresistible to some other gal who actually loved him. Do I break up with the best guy who's ever come along? — Texas Attorney
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Texas, My Trollymog,
Though 99.9 percent of the Dears are dying to tell you to get RID of the fellow (and are ready to strangle me for even running this question) . . . I quite like him. He doth reeketh a whiff? So what? That scent he's wearing is called "eau de employed." In this economy, honey, you may have forgotten what a man who holds a job actually smells like.
And come on, Miss Dainty Doily, how over-refined have you Texas attorneys become? Since when does a little tang banish "the best guy who's ever come along?"
Grab him by the ears and say, "Dude. Kill the baby smooches. I’m gonna show you how I like to be kissed." And when he leans in to begin the lesson, hold up your hand, smile and whisper: "Ahhhhhh — not so fast, you bewitching animal! Your man scent is a little too intoxicating for me. So look what I found . . . " And here hand him a box of hand-soaps, shampoos, and aftershaves. (If you're the high-strung Gossip Girl type — and aren't we all? — drive home your point by removing the top from the aftershave, sniffing and staggering backwards with your hand fluttering at your heart. He'll get the picture.)
A woman can always — always! — improve a "kind, generous, sweet" man because he wants to please you. Indeed, I once scrubbed down one of my husbands in vinegar and drove him around with his head hanging out the window till he dried off.
P.S. If you've washed him up and still want to wash him out, re-gift him to the ladies on GreatBoyfriends.com and chalk it up to a bad case of the "McClintocks." Martha McClintock, PhD, of the University of Chicago, has discovered that you're a sucker for gentlemen who smell like you do, but not exactly like you do; and you go wild for a fellow who smells like your dad, but not precisely like your dad. The theory is you will choose a mate with an immune system which will give your offspring a better chance in life.
But to hell with Martha! You have 50 or 60 years worth of olfactory foul-ups and fun in front of you.