In the land of Bath and Body Works

Will E Sanders

January 10, 2014

I had intentionally placed Bath & Body Works on my Christmas shopping itinerary last for a reason. As my shopping sojourn was drawing to a close I entered the mall with reasonable hesitation and caution as I began meandering through the hallways in search of B&BW. Though I was unfamiliar with its location therein, I eventually came upon B&BW after smelling the air and following the wafting odor of cherry blossoms, lavender and old lady perfume.

The B&B’Dub is a scary place for anyone with male genitalia, myself included, so I proceeded ahead with caution.

There was a small crowd of men standing at the threshold of the entryway. They just stood there as if some invisible force was preventing them from moving forward. It was as if a barrier of pleasant-smelling aromas was keeping them at bay.

But it’s not some false claim to masculinity that bothers me so much about the store. I have no qualms about buying gifts there. I just feel so lost inside. I feel vulnerable. The way a sheepish woman might feel at a car dealership toward an overly-aggressive car salesman. That’s precisely how I feel at a B&BW — another causality in the never-ending gender war.

My only directions were to buy Christine “something that smells good.” Really, she even wrote it on the Christmas list she gave me that way. There was just one small problem. What doesn’t smell good there?

Is there some product sold at B&BW that smells horrendous? Is there some atrocious aroma or ghastly scent that I am unaware of, like body odor or a portable toilet on a hot summer day?

When I was there store employees were holding products to my nose in what I took to be a threatening manner, ordering me to smell them and then asking me if they smelled good. After two minutes in the environment and atmosphere of BBW my olfactory sense was shot.

After awhile every candle, body lotion, shampoo and perfume smelled the same to me. In the end everything stopped smelling less like an individual product and more like the overall smell of a BBW. While I enjoy very little about being inside the bowels of a B&BW, there are a few small features that I relish. If I had to pick one thing I love about being at B&BW it would be that it actually makes me feel more masculine, as crazy as that sounds. It’s the only time in my life when I can look around the entire room and seriously think, “You know what? I could take anyone in this room in a fair fight.”

Then again, that cantankerous cashier could probably give me a run for my money.

Guys like me shouldn’t even be allowed within three city blocks of a B&BW. I am gangly, ill-tempered, and well-endowed with rat-like facial features, so naturally my attendance in such a place as BBW draws immediate suspicion. “Surely this man has no significant other to be buying girly gifts for,” I can almost hear the patrons say. “He must be some kind of creep.”

And they’re almost right.

So I picked out a few overpriced items, walked up to the aforementioned cantankerous cashier and paid for my goods, which consisted of lotions. She asked (demanded) if I would like to give her my address so I could receive valuable coupons for B&BW in the mail each month. Yeah, that’s just what I need, more junk mail.

Unfortunately, this is not the end of my sad tale. As fate would have it, Christine received the same exact lotion that I bought for her from another family member. And since I work near a B&BW to begin with, I offered my services to Christine to go back and swap the lotion for another kind.

I asked her what kind.

She just stared at me.

“I don’t know, something that smells good,” she said.

Great, that helps me out a lot.

To contact Will E Sanders email him at wille@willesanders.com. To learn more about Will E Sanders, to read past columns or to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.