I’m sitting on my usual packed commuter bus when this wonderful wisp of a woman comes up the stairs and scans for a seat. She’s like a living, breathing Orla Kiely pattern. Lovely, but full of notions.
The only seat left is beside me, so she wisps over and floats into it. I continue with my usual bus activity: leaning my head against the window and regretting every decision I’ve ever made that has led me to being on a bus at that hour of the morning.
Halfway through the journey another passenger who is sitting a few rows up gets off at their stop. Then Niamh gets up and moves to that seat, not so she could sit by herself (the first class of Irish travel), SO SHE COULD SIT BESIDE SOMEONE ELSE! Away from me.
I do the usual checks: underarm, breath, head lice; all relatively clear. It might also happen from time to time that a lad’s lad might accidentally be aroused by the sexy rumble of the bus, and if I were unknowingly protuberant, she would be rightly disgusted enough to move. But no, I look, and my penis is as flaccid as my soul.
I was perturbed for the rest of the day. And the next day. And the next.
A month goes by. Tea tastes a little weaker, there’s an edge of chalkiness to every spud; one night I am really low, and I find myself watching a whole episode of Fair City…on purpose. Worse again; I actual enjoy it. This is bad. I am a sad excuse of my former self, a reheated humanoid, doomed to live out my life never knowing what is so wrong with me, but then…
…I see her again.
The bus is pulling off and my nemesis is running to catch it. The bus driver stops for her. Of course. Damn!
The bus is sparsely populated that particular morning. She chooses the empty seat in front of me and plonks herself down, puts her gym bag beside her, and takes a couple of deep breaths.
Lads, Niamh is stinky. She isn’t a wisp, she’s a fug; the fugging fugger who almost ruined my life.
At first, I check myself. It must be me, I think. I can’t believe that such a whiff can be emanating from such a woman. She looks like she moisturises after every meal and movement. She probably even spritzes after every tinkle. Smelling Niamh should be like sniffing an Enya song. And yet, it is not me. I know this because ever since I met this callous wench I have been assiduously Fabreezing my bits.
I am close to solving the mystery, but some pieces of the puzzle don’t yet fit. I haven’t entirely buttered this digestive…
A few weeks later, Niamh is on the bus again. She spots a friend who is sitting a couple of rows behind me, and she Orinoco Flows down the aisle, odourlessly.
Niamh and her friend are having a good natter (which is when I find out her name). She has just done a marathon, because of course she has! (She was the one who glided by you, while you were trying to complete the last few miles on your hands and knees.) The talk turns to sweat, and then sweat prevention, and then I hear her say something that finally puts the fig into this fig roll for me.
Niamh was using Crystal Deodorant! According to her, actual deodorant contains chemicals the Bilderberg government lizard people put in there in order to gain control of our collective minds through our sweat glands. In order to avoid these chemicals, you can rub a stone on yourself instead, which has the bonus of being apparently healthier, but has the minor drawback of not working…in any way…at all.
When Niamh sat beside me on that first day, she must have had a bit of whiff off her, which I didn’t smell because I was looking out the window contemplating the sweet release of death. Obviously, Niamh smelt it, but couldn’t believe that she dealt it, because Niamh is the sort who always believes that the brilliant new thing she has just discovered must, of course, work. So, she moved.
On the second morning that I encountered her, she was clearly after having a heavy training session for the marathon, so the smell was particularly rank, which is why I noticed it. I, however, did not move. I mouth-breathed all the way into the city, like a good, compliant, commuting Irish citizen should. I can only imagine how many other lives she ruined during this time with her manky, moving-seat malarkey.
So, how come Niamh, the former fugging fugger of Fugginton, had apparently returned to being the whiffless wizard of wisp? As she tries to convince her clearly unconvinced friend to make the switch to Crystal, she says, ‘Yes, it did take a while to work, but that’s because I was doing it wrong. These mornings I rub it on for about five minutes and then I give myself a little squirt of antiperspirant, just to seal it in.’