palate cleanser sexylittleideas
or The Coffee Bean Solution


Heads turned as the stunning blonde in the bright red dress pressed her bronzed body against mine and kissed me full on the lips. I pushed her away and said, “Honey, I’m trying to focus here.”

It was hard enough being a man (bull) in a ladies perfume boutique (china shop), and besides, she only did that in public when she wanted attention.

The beauty industry was a predominantly ladies’ game, but it seemed like she was always dragging me to one cosmetic stadium after another in the name of doing things together. I was a good sport so I played along, although I won’t say cheerfully (I wasn’t an all-star, just a good sport). Sometimes too much is just too much, you know? Even of a good thing.

She bent provocatively over a low display case, her dress stretching sensuous and round behind her. A damn good thing. Now she had the attention of everyone in the store. I looked away and rolled my eyes.

The task at hand was an olfactory one. I unbuttoned my sleeve and pulled it back because I was running out of space on my wrists for new scents. Okay, the first one had been some kind of lemon tang mixed with something spicy that reminded me of black pepper. The second one had smelled like vanilla, but the clerk had called it ambergis or something. But it smelled like vanilla to me.

The clerk shyly sprayed something into the crook of my elbow and said something that sounded like woody. As if wood had a smell. I sniffed at my elbow like a dog meeting a stranger. I guess he was right – it smelled faintly like a cedar tree, but it mostly smelled like Option D, all of the above.

Shy Clerk seemed to notice the confusion in my eyes, something she (I glanced over at the blonde who was twirling a strand of hair in her fingers and laughing at someone else’s joke) never did anymore. A damp towelette appeared out of nowhere and quickly wiped down the length of my exposed forearm as Shy Clerk meticulously capped up all the open bottles of perfume. He mouthed the word fatigue , and pushed a small tray of coffee beans toward me.

I wasn’t here to buy coffee, and I would never dream of spraying it all over anyone, but the chocolate flood in my nostrils was like a salty wave of relief washing over me.

I closed my eyes for a second. I was deep in the Amazonian jungle, riding on the back of a capybara, harvesting raw cacao from the mouth of a jaguar. The rainforest washed over my face, and it was good to be alive.

I opened my eyes, pushed the coffee beans away, and sniffed the last bottle of perfume. Shy Clerk was right, it did have a woodsy note to it, but I could also smell a bright floral undertone, possibly violet or jasmine, and I was sure there was a touch of calone in there somewhere too. I loved it.

I told him I would take it and turned to look for her in the crowd of customers, dreading the latest stupid thing she would be doing to attract attention. She was talking (flirting) with a short, bald man whose eyes were not on her eyes.

I grabbed her hand and hurried her out of the store. I was fed up with her, but I had to keep her close to me at all times. Had to saturate myself in her essence at all moments or the world would end. The walls of our relationship squeezed in tight around us, choking us off from everyone else and pressing us so tightly together we couldn’t see the forest for the trees. I loved her and I was sick of her, both to death.

There was a Starbucks at the end of the aisle and to the right. I desperately needed a coffee.

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