Fiction: Personal Hygiene

May 19, 2016 Fiction , POETRY / FICTION


Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois



My body smells bad. This keeps me from finding a partner but, without a partner, I don’t feel the need for hygiene. I have a feeling of deep resistance to taking my clothes off and stepping into the enslaved rain of a tiled telephone booth. Rain inside a building designed to keep rain out is unnatural. If I lived next door to a waterfall, my life would be different.

I wish I could rip out all my nerves and show them to my cat, hold them in the air and dangle them in a provocative way, and drive her nuts.

There are places like that in the Upper Peninsula, a 3/2 with attached garage and adjoining waterfall, but I don’t live anywhere near there. I couldn’t afford a house in those neighborhoods. They wouldn’t let me use food stamps there. They wouldn’t let me talk to their children. Children give me a sense of possibility, but they wrinkle their noses at me. They whisper to each other that I smell like shit. I can hear them. I have very good hearing. I hear things others can’t.

My spinal cord would be a scratching post.

I took a creative writing class and wrote an autobiographical sketch, though I claimed it wasn’t. I claimed it was about someone who had shit stains in the seam of his jeans. The teacher said it was a detail that had the power of veracity. I wasn’t sure what that meant. I insisted on smoking in the classroom. All the other students were against me. They all washed behind their ears with ivory soap, took naps when they were told, and wore helmets when they rode their bikes.

But I don’t have a nervous system or a limbic system or any other of the physiologic systems that give my fellow beings their humanity.

The Dean came and kicked me out. I could tell he was afraid of me. I could tell he was disgusted by my smell. If I had a girlfriend, I’d be careful about my hygiene. I’d spray my feet with athlete’s foot spray. I’d go to the drug store and shoplift cans of it. I’d shave my face and watch the whiskers flee down the drain. I’d use bay rum by the half-gallon. I’d put it on my clean-shaven face and the back of my neck.

I don’t know how to embed animation in my nerveless limbs. I don’t know how to bleed out my heartless heart.

If I had a partner, I’d feel a need for hygiene because there’d be a real woman I’d want to please and not offend. But until then, my body smells repugnant, and there’s really nothing I can do about it.









Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois has had over a thousand of his poems and fictions appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad, including TUCK MAGAZINE. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and The Best of the Net for work published in 2011 through 2015. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available for Kindle and Nook, or as a print edition.


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