In My Write Mind
4.04.2005

In No Particular Odor...

Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Kenny*.

He was part of the crew from back in the day, the tallest member of the original group of five that used to own the basketball courts at Cambria Park in Queens. Standing at 6 foot 2, he had an awkward gait (due to his size 15 shoe) and suspicious odor that engulfed his pre-teen frame.

He was tall, dark and somewhat handsome, with curly hair and a chestnut complexion...but no one could get past the complexing smell. He was at the top of his class, excelling at math and history...but the remembrance of that odor subtracted from his appeal. Yes, Kenny was a character straight out of a Charles Schulz comic strip, the successor to the almighty PigPen, a close descendant of Motown's Funk Brothers. When Lipps Inc. made their classic dance hit, "Funkytown", word has it they did research on Kenny's block. He was the classic big fish in a small pond; a lanky, malodorous fish, to be true.

He was also our secret weapon, with no disrespect intended toward the anti-perspirant. There were many times that the odor was our sixth man on the b-ball court, the difference between the smell of victory and the agony of da-funk. Forget that he could block shots because he was tall; Kenny's strength was his strong scent.

Opponents would drive to the basket, headstrong and with a vengeance, only to be knocked backwards by Kenny and the sweats. LOL They thought twice about driving after that. In fact, in some instances, dudes would hand over their driver's licenses, permits and car keys after posting up against Kenny. He wasn't particularly good. I mean, really, would YOU be good if you had a body that you could never grow into? The dude had a hard time walking, let alone running up and down a basketball court while handling the rock. A word to describe his skills? He was clumsy at worst, goofy at best.

But he was our Kenny.

Sure we could be mean, too, not letting Ken ride in the car with us after intense games, never going inside of his house for fear of turning blue from holding our breath for too long; however, we did attempt to help Ken fight the funk. Subtle suggestions about using stronger soap turned into classic interventions the likes of which Christopher had to endure on The Sopranos. I felt bad for Ken. Imagine all of the people who claimed to love you trapping you in a room telling you that you stink. Not.good.times.

We did it out of love. And as the years went on, Kenny gradually discovered on his own the need for personal hygiene. We'd like to think it was something we did, but I truly believe that it was a self-realization that comes with adolesence; an inner bell that rang that caused him to wake up and errr, smell the bar of soap; being fed up with having to walk home from basketball games. Maybe it was the discovery that the only funk girls liked was inside their radios, and not their nostrils.

Who knows? All we know is that Kenny no longer faked the funk. He took a look at the man in the mirror and made that change. I still remember the day he called and asked that I accompany him to Green Acres mall to purchase some cologne. I couldn't believe it. It was comparative to a father watching his son graduate from high school, or score the winning points in the big game. This...was huge. The lady at Perfumania was very helpful, giving Kenny the many options that he was looking for. To think, just a few years before, those options seemed so distant, so unreachable. Now, he'd gone from Funkytown to Freshville. And it's a journey I'm happy to say I saw from the beginning.

These days, Ken is married and applying his penchant for math working as an accountant for a major firm in the city. And I've been to his house several times without apprehension. We've played ball and, truthfully, he still isn't that good. LOL Nonetheless, although we lost our secret weapon, Kenny gained so much more. A wife, a good job, and the self-confidence that comes with maturity, an appreciation for the finer things in life...and putting things in proper odor, er, order.

Smells like a winner to me.

*name changed to protect the odoriferous. :)

scribbled by Will at 4/04/2005 10:41:00 AM
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Mind Droppings

I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear. (Joan Didion)



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Will. Lefty. Since Summer 1971.
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