You know what’s always amazed me? How it is that men stink and women smell good.

In college, most of us lived in the dorms all 4 years, and many of the dorms were 3 floors, with one floor all-male, one floor all-female, and one floor co-ed. The all-male floors invariably stunk to high heaven. A mix of sweat, body odor, and sundry other foul stenches.

The all-female floors, by contrast, smelled fine. Not just fine, but good. And it wasn’t just that they liked and utilized pleasant scents. Even the ones that didn’t, their rooms smelled good. Women just smell good.

The weird thing was, the co-ed floors smelled fine also. You would expect them to smell half as bad as the all-male floors. But no, they were perfectly fine. So it’s not that men smell and women don’t. Women actually have some sort of deodorizing effect, actually neutralizing men smell.

I’ve mentioned this before, but there’s actually a term for this in Korean, roughly translated as bachelor smell. The concept is, you take a bachelor, and he (as well as his living space) smells. When he gets married, he (and his living space) doesn’t smell anymore. Amazing. Inexplicable.

I think living in all-male floors for a couple years in college permanently damaged my sense of smell. I’m not joking. It used to be pretty strong. Came from my mom, I think. She constantly makes sniffing sounds, an indication that some odor is off. Freshman year, I lived on a co-ed floor, and every time I went to the male floor the smell was unbearable. Sophomore year, it took a while to get used to the smell of my all-male floor, but eventually I did, and I stopped noticing it. Senior year, I lived on an all-male floor again and I barely noticed any smell from the very beginning.

It’s reflected in my sense of taste as well, which has dulled through time. I used to not be able to tolerate even a drop of Tabasco sauce; it was too strong for me. Now I add jalapenos to anything I can, for flavor. I blame in part the two years I lived on all-male dorm floors.

Why am I thinking about this? Oh yeah. The last (excruciatingly boring) half of Exodus we’re reading. It’s probably just me, but when I read about the tabernacle and the priestly clothes, all I can think about is how they must have smelled. Parts of the tabernacle are made of a bunch of fabric, left outdoors. That must have gotten really mildewy after a while. And the clothes – the regulations involve regularly flinging blood, oil, and maybe other stuff I don’t remember on it. There are all these stones and other stuff embedded in the clothes, so they can’t have been washed much if at all. Sounds smelly.

Not unlike men. But unlike women.

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