“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark”, From Shakespeare’s play Hamlet (1.4), Marcellus to Horatio.
Boris K. took the “Mens sana in corpore sano” mantra deadly seriously and was on his way to the nearest gym. Out of sheer excitement, he forgot the towel. Truth be told, Boris K. never really sweated, what’s more the doctors diagnosed him with some armpit gland defect. He wore his tracksuit that he usually wore when he went to the farmer’s market and had sneakers on, clean, but with a tiny hole on their side.
The moment he stepped into the luxury space, akin to the gyms of Los Angeles where the Japanese Yakuza work out, the treadmill caught his attention. As he was running, green pastures went through his head where he soared as a child, running after a ball.
“Boris, get the ball!” he remembered the voice of his uncle Ivan The Terrible Fisherman, who often took him fishing.
He ran faster, catching the ball in his thoughts. Giggling, he lifted his arms up and whispered: “Death to fascism, freedom to the people”, respecting the house rules.
Luckily, others noticed the new workout guy, others who ran along the treadmill with light steps, wiping off the invisible sweat, exchanging many a word between one another:
“Sweetheart, I have discovered the Café Menstrualle. You pop one Café Menstrualle and no more ovary pain.”
“Such nice people, these folks”, he thought after a thirty minute cardio workout, ran his fingers through his odorous hair, with but a hint of sweat to it. He reeked of sweat and it felt good to him.
As he was fantasizing about making “Rocky VII”, a young man of 25-ish approached him, dark curly-haired, engulfed in a strong perfume, with buff arms, a square Lego torso and short legs, and he whispered into his ears words that almost froze Boris K. solid.
“Good evening”, he shook his hand with his own, dry chapped one. “I am Boris K.”
The trainer shook hands, unknowingly stepping away from Boris K., while down his tiny wrinkle on his young forehead, born out of constant frowning and grimacing, sweat poured.
“Forgive me, sir, but you stink. All the other folks that are working out are complaining about you.”
Boris turned around himself, sensing the sweat and the hostile looks. He shook.
“Male or female?” he applied logic.
He felt being bathed in cold sweat. As if something had been crushing him bone by bone, his field of vision narrowed. Him? He never broke a sweat. Even when he had to go to the doctor’s.
“What?”, Boris K. looked at him nearly maniacally.
“Nothing”, he said and wiped the sweat of his forehead. Catching glimpse of this motion, Boris K. facepalmed, merely uttering that he did not bring a towel which he would use to clear any doubt-raising link between him and sweat.
“Mistah Trainah, I have never once in my life…stunk, not even had a hint of an odor…and even if I did – is this not the right spot for it?” Boris K. was pulling these and similar arguments while counting the seconds in his head, bouncing the words around under his tongue, gulping, until finally he bent the knee and admitted defeat.
He was certain that he did not break a sweat, but this young trainer, who was a bodybuilder for at least a decade, certainly knew everything there was to know about stench.
“I’ve been wrongly accused!”, a slight rise in his tone.
The trainer shrugged and clenched his fists. The other customers started approaching with menacing faces. Boris K. noticed that he’s in a pinch and tried to apply some strategy. He smiled, to which the customers stepped back. Boris K. noticed that the workout gear was unoccupied, seeing as the people using them were surrounding him, therefore nobody was there using them. He felt the uncalm and the desire to leave, but he couldn’t leave well enough alone. He had firmly decided to continue the discussion with the discount Tommy Gann here by any means necessary, come hell or high water.
He felt that he was about to cry any minute. He held himself with both arms, comforting himself gently as the trainer, his voice a chill, suggested that he brought a towel next time, more modern sneakers and a Dolce & Gabbana tracksuit, like the ones other customers had. For a while he trembled out of confusion, uneasiness, he even wanted to cry. He cursed all the towels of God’s green Earth. He shook away the invisible sweat off of himself as the in-full-make-up female customers, casting a glance or two in his general direction, glared at him scornfully. One observed the sole of his left sneaker. Rolling her eyes, she whispered something to the lummox next to her who looked at Boris K., as if ready to crush him. Boris K. was smiling. He went out into the street shook up, confused, disturbed and offended, realizing that there was a stench there and that the trainer was absolutely correct.
“I know what it was! It was the scent of rot!”, he concluded, and stepped into the dark streets towards a new comedy.
Tomorrow Boris K. purchased a café menstrualle deciding that, as soon as he gets the right opportunity, he would complain to other customers at the gym about the pain in his ovaries.