At the end of a long and weary Saturday at work in 2008, I finally packed my bag and got ready to leave, ever so inconspicuously. I did not want to attract the attention of the infamous Sir Stinks-a-lot who had been paying too much attention to me lately.
The attention-paying had begun with an innocent question about my marital status three days after I joined, followed by a casual “you must’ve got a lot of proposals in school because you’re so pretty”, and then an almost forceful thrusting of a blazer on my shoulders because “you’ll catch a cold” – all on the same day. Needless to say, I was flattered. Only until I realized that he wore the same clothes to work every day and stank like a dead pig that’s been lying on the road for weeks.
I’m serious. In the 18 months that I knew him, he only changed his clothes twice:
- Client visit (the same day he forced me to wear his coat)
- CEO’s wedding (he wore the same coat as if to remind me of something)
Anyway. A few months after the coat-thrusting, on a Saturday afternoon, we (four people) were working on a prototype for a shitty client who didn’t even pay for it in the end. I had announced, as soon as I walked in, that I had only until 4 pm – after which I had plans.
So as soon as my work was done and I had sent out the last set of emails, I slyly tip-toed out with my bag slung over my shoulders. I would’ve walked out unnoticed had it not been for the damned door that decided to shut with a loud enough bang to scare the shit out of me.
As I expected, Sir Stinks-a-lot noticed I was leaving, and offered to give me a lift because *surprise surprise* his work was done, too. I told him I was going to Noida, and he said No problem, I live in Noida (for fuck’s sake!) and I silently cursed myself for not saying Gurgaon.
Once in the car, he asked me all sorts of questions about the purpose of my visit – and trust me, I did not have to answer so many questions the time I applied for a US Visa (that was last week, btw). When he finally figured out I was going shopping, he decided to accompany me.
I had chanted 101 fucks by the time I stepped into the first store. I was going to pick up the same pair of shoes I always have – the red and black converse, but he kept insisting I buy something different this time.
You know how sometimes chewing gum gets stuck in your hair, and you struggle with it for the first five minutes and then, exhausted, you cut your own hair off? I bought a pair of shoes he liked just to get him out of my hair.
But my ordeal didn’t end there. Hey, do you want to get something to eat?
Sure. I wasn’t hungry.
We walked into the nearest Ruby Tuesday. He ordered Rum and asked if I wanted to have a Mojito.
I hate Mojitos. Not my drink. We just sat there for forty minutes, trying to make conversation. And then I did it. I texted my (now ex) husband.
Out on a force date with Sir Stinks-a-lot. SOS call needed. He didn’t respond.
Please call ASAP or I will die here. No response, again.
I called from under the table. Called and called until he finally answered, and then hung up. A few seconds later, my phone rang. I’m sure I sounded over enthusiastic as I pretended to be making plans with some old friends to watch a movie. We were going to meet “in ten minutes because the movie starts at 5:30.” Like that’s possible.
So I finished up my second drink, paid, and proceeded to walk out.
Ana! Wait, I’m coming along.
We reached the main gate, and I went kthanksbye on him.
Where are your friends?
I’ll walk you out.
No no, I have to meet them at the-mall-across-the-road. They’re buying tickets.
What time is the show again?
You better rush!
Yes. Thank you! See on on Monday!
I walked as fast as I could without raising suspicion. I knew he was watching me, so I dared not go anywhere else. I walked into that mall, bought that ticket, and went in to watch that movie. I hated it. The fact that I had had two mojitos didn’t help.
But I think Sir Stinks-a-lot may have gotten the message, coz he didn’t bother me again. Until he got drunk at an offsite and told me how much he liked me.
Wondering why I brought this up now? Coz I’m about to meet him again tomorrow at a reunion of the old gang. I wonder if he will still be dressed in those filthy denims and that torn chequed shirt.
What do you think? Can a person change? Would you believe a person who wears the same clothes every day for 18 months and stinks really bad, but claims he showers daily? Any perspectives on what has to be wrong with a person for them to wear the same set of clothes every day for years? How would you wriggle out of a situation like this?