My Mom had always said my Dad was a “stinky one,” but we didn’t realize it was a talent until we saw the flier for the “World Stench Competition.”
It seems a decade or so earlier the marketing departments of a few perfume, cologne and deodorant companies had gotten together to find the world’s stinkiest person. The winner got a good scrubbing, a lifetime supply of deodorant and perfume/cologne, and a year of celebrity as the underwriters toured him (it was always a him) around the world and displayed him as their product’s latest triumph. They had such success that they made it an annual event.
Dad walked right into the local competition and won handily with two sniffs of his garlic breath (one from each judge).
For the regional competition he spent the morning mowing the grass in a sweat suit (it was July). He walked into the basement where it was being held and one of the judges ran to the bathroom with an acute case of nausea. They sent Dad through to nationals.
Mom refused to drive Dad to the national competition as she’d been Lysoling her car daily for three weeks after the regional round.
He and I packed up his old station wagon and headed out. Two long, hot, air conditioner and shower free days later we arrived at the abandoned warehouse where the competition took place. (Finding a venue for a stench competition is about as hard as it sounds. Most hotels want business after you leave too.)
The competition got a lot steeper at the national round. There was a trash collector, a chicken farmer, a septic tank technician, a fertilizer manufacturer, and a guy who lived in his parents’ basement, just to name a few of the heavyweights.
Dad smelled pretty bad when we got there, but not where he needed to be to win. Luckily he had an ace up his sleeve or, I should say, up his shoe.
At this level they put the contestants in glass boxes during judging. The judge opens a little door in the wall and takes a good whiff. This makes sure that the contests are judged on their own smell and not another scent in the air. (Some of the repeat contestants sited “the unpleasant legal battle of ’07” as the reason)
The first contestant to go, the trash collector, made the judge cough. The chicken farmer made the judge wheeze and tear up. Next came my Dad who’d taken off his shoes just before entering the box. Mom called them his “stinky cheese” feet.
When the judge took a whiff of my Dad he fainted on the spot. They brought in a second judge (the need for alternate judges was common in this competition) and he fainted when he smelled my Dad too. A third judge started from the other end of contestants, but he too fainted when he got to my Dad. They declared Dad the National Stinker. They dubbed the guy who lived in his parents’ basement, Mike, second runner-up after the judges had been revived with smelling salts. They sent both Mike and my Dad to the world finals.
For luck (and training) my Dad decided not to shower until the international round had named the world’s stinkiest person. Mom was not so happy about it. Dad had to sleep on the couch for the two weeks before the competition in sheets Mom planned to throw away when he left.
Mom tried to go with us to the world finals, but she conveniently couldn’t take off work. Her boss didn’t believe her when she told him her husband was in the World Stench Competition, so just Dad and I flew to a tiny island in the Caribbean called “Bacontopia.”