Welcome to Our New Advice Column: Ask Bea
After searching far and wide, combing the most prestigious institutions for talent, and offering compensation in the form of personal satisfaction and the opportunity to cavort with the finest co-workers, Marblehead Beacon landed on an expert with the utmost talent to handle our newest feature: Ask Bea. Bea will remain behind the scenes, Wizard of Oz-style, doing this critical, hard-hitting work.
By way of introduction to our advice column in which Bea will offer wisdom in response to your most compelling life questions, provided below is a recent query with which Bea was presented, along with Bea’s answer. Should you wish to seek out sage and direct advice, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and put “Bea” in the subject line. Kindly tell us in your communication if you wish for your name to be kept anonymous. We reserve the right to edit for any reasons, including clarity and brevity.
I have been dating the same woman for four months. We are both in our early thirties and Tallulah is the whole package: attractive, smart, funny, and kind. But after we’ve been together for a few hours on a given day, she starts to smell, especially if we are out walking. Sometimes her body odor is extra gamey and I have even had to excuse myself when I feel my gag reflex kicking in. This is a relatively new development, as she told me that she was switching to organic household items like toothpaste and shampoo a few months ago, which I thought sounded great. But when I first started staying over at her apartment around that time, I noticed that her deodorant had the word “natural” in it and I put two and two together. She is very green and I really love that she cares about the earth so much. But if I’m being honest, it’s hard for me to be close to her when she starts to ripen. We have an honest relationship but I am afraid that if I tell her about her body odor issue, she will either be mortally wounded or will dump me for someone who appreciates her au natural. What should I do?
Grover in Marblehead
Our senses decide a lot for us, and your schnozz has alerted you to a problem that will not go away on its own. You have correctly determined that you have only two choices: 1) tell Tellulah she reeks; and 2) do not. The former carries with it the risks you have, in part, noted: that she might be devastatingly offended by your assessment but take the advice, or that she might leave you rather than correct the problem.
In the case of Tallulah taking extreme offense at you sharing with her that she stinks when she uses natural deodorant (which, as you have adeptly concluded, can be approximately as effective as placing unicorn kisses under one’s arms to prevent the stench of sweat and bacteria), you will be doing her a bigger favor than either of you knows, and she will owe you a debt of gratitude. One need not be up in someone’s grill to recognize when BO is on the move. In other words: It’s a virtual guarantee that her aroma has permeated others’ nostrils–whether that’s co-workers, a boss, or her Uber driver. It is, however, imperative that you deliver the news as gently as possible. For instance, simply telling her that her pits make you gag is unnecessarily cruel, while telling her that some of her natural potions are not quite effective–as they can be for many–could be a way to be direct without being gratuitous.
If Tallulah digs in her heels on the unicorn kisses, recognize that people generally do not get better smelling with age. Your letter is silent about whether having a partner with a pungent odor is a relationship deal breaker, though you were concerned enough to pen a letter. With that in mind, and should you reach an impasse with Tallulah, it would make a great deal of sense to tear off the Band-Aid and cut your losses, as her resistance to tending to her bodily…bouquet…likely marks the beginning of a life of such disagreements.