I’ve been traveling a lot lately, and I’ve become an expert at packing. I can now get a week’s worth of clothes and various accessories to fit inside a package that could probably be smuggled by a drug mule, if he had taken some extra-strength laxatives that day. But, I still find that I always leave a few things behind.

This week when I was unpacking, I noticed I had forgotten my towel, and my deodorant. The towel problem was easily solved, as my landlord was more than happy to lend me one of hers. Considering her towel was more than twice as thick as the shuk castoffs I’ve been bringing until now, I might stick with that arrangement. I could actually feel the moisture being sucked off my skin. It was like visiting a linen closet from the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.

The deodorant was a little bit more difficult to replace since it’s not something I like to share (who knows where that armpit has been?!), and in my opinion, it is certainly more critical to my career and social life. I mean, you can always blame being a little damp on a freak rainstorm. That’s right, that time I came to work and said that I had just caught the tail edge of a hurricane, I was lying. I am a bigger person now. I can admit it.

So, on my way to work I stopped to restock on the antiperspirant. Notice I said “antiperspirant”. All of you people who use baking soda and crystals, or that rock that lasts twenty years, you are all smelly. And even if you weren’t smelly (which you are, I’m not backing down on this), you’re dripping like a faucet from your apocrine glands. Would you like to stand by someone who smells like a rose, but looks like they have Buckwheat in a headlock after a shower hiding inside their shirt? I don’t. When I am shopping for underarm protection, I look for something that says “industrial” or “banned in some countries”, because I want to make sure that there isn’t a possibility of system failure.

“But some studies say that the chemicals in antiperspirants cause cancer”.

That’s not true. Being around people and participating in a social life exposes you to things that cause cancer. I have friends that smoke. It’s a dirty nasty habit. But I happen to like the people, so I continue to talk to them even though I know that being in their airspace means my lung cells are dying off, or worse, are running wild like a kid who was brought up vegetarian, and then got his first taste of McDonald’s. The reason that hippies who don’t use antiperspirant don’t have cancer is that no one wants to hang out with them. I’m thinking of funding a research study to confirm a link between cancer and patchouli, just to see the amount of panic that would cause.

Because I didn’t discover the imminent crisis until about 30 minutes before I was expected at work, my replacement options were limited. I walked as slowly as possible, trying to avoid any sweat generation, in the general direction that I needed to go until I passed a corner store. I went inside, hoping that this was the type of place that sold random things people might need for a slightly inflated price, versus a store selling random things that people might need at an outrageous price, or even worse (but found all too frequently here in Israel), random stuff no one in their right mind would need for an outrageous price.

“You need a bottle of Sprite and some gum? Sorry, we only have sealing wax and cabbages. That’ll be $50.”

The store only carried two kinds of deodorant, a men’s style and women’s style, and both had names in English, which is a bad sign as far as price is concerned. You had to ask the cashier to get it. I guess it’s a high risk item. I understood why immediately when I tried to buy it.

“Lady Speed Stick?” the clerk yelled. “Hey, Dani, how much for the deodorant? You know, the stuff you put under your arms so you don’t smell. Come on, you know… wait. Come here. I’ll show you.”

The other customers started looking at me funny. Who comes into a party store at nine in the morning and only buys deodorant. Yeah. That girl. I closed my eyes and prayed that it would be over soon. Dani arrived at the counter, and it was clearly evident that he was not acquainted with deodorant.

“Oh, that stuff,” he said. “That’s 28 shekel.”

28 shekel is equal to almost $8 for a stick of deodorant. Yes, it was a premium brand, but really?! This is a major reason why public transportation can be a nightmare in Israel, because some people have obviously decided the investment isn’t worth it. There were practically riots in the streets over the price of cottage cheese two years ago, but not a peep about how much it costs not to assault anyone’s olfactory nerve. I, for one, use deodorant more frequently than I use cottage cheese, so I’m ready to be part of that protest, when it happens. But for the present, I just paid the money and slunk off towards the bus, feeling the weight of the judgement in the eyes of all the other customers in line.

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