I have a bizarre confession: I am mildly addicted to the smell of my boyfriend's unwashed armpits. This is good, as my boyfriend's armpits are usually unwashed.
When we're alone, you will often find me nose deep in his underarms, and I have to consciously stop myself from taking really long awkward pit sniffs while out in public. I am not talking about diggin' the smell of his deodorant or cologne – he wears neither on a daily basis. I love the smell of his sweaty, spicy body odor.
Now let me stress that my boyfriend isn't overly stinky ... just a dude who is pretty active and not all that into bathing. Mmmm.
"Can I write about your armpits on the Internet?" I asked him recently.
"Sure, just don't use my name," he responded. What a sport!
My guy lives in a different city, but is lovely enough to lend me a filthy T-shirt to sniff when he isn't around. I wear this dirty shirt – much to the disgust of my roommates – around the house until it no longer smells like him. Then I trade it in for a new one.
I know that this must be all about pheromones – we are chemically inclined to like the smell of our partners. Now this isn't a new phenomenon – everyone knows all about that stinky T-shirt study. However, it is new to ME.
You see, for the past 11 years, I have been on oral contraceptives, which pretty much make you chemically pregnant and throw off your pheromone receptors. When you're ovulating, or lookin' for some manparts to snuggle up on, you're naturally drawn to individuals whose immune systems are least like your own, because your offspring will have a better chance of survival.
Once you're pregnant, your body prefers individuals with chemical make-ups similar to your own, most likely because you want to feel safe, secure and protected, like you would surrounded by your family. We choose partners partially by smell, and what we are smelling is their chemical make-up. Now I'm not scientist, but this makes sense, right?
I'm not sure about how compatible I was with past partners (here's a hint: PAST partners) but I do know that my man is the first guy I have hibernated with since getting off the pill. Flings with my yoga instructor and that guy with all the snakes in his basement don't count as hibernating.
So is it just a coincidence that my guy is the first whose B.O. makes me all sorts of hopped-up like my cat on catnip? I have enjoyed the smell of a boyfriend before. You know, that nice personalized skin scent, maybe with a hint of cologne or whatever man-products they use. But I've never enjoyed the peppery hot I-Just-Ran-Around-All-Day-Imagine-What-My-Balls-Smell-Like dirty armpit stench before.
Normally, when a boyfriend smelled like B.O., I would wrinkle my nose and avoid the general area. Now I actually pursue my guy's sweaty pit like some sort of weird sexually excited blind raccoon.
I know I'm not alone. I have a handful of friends who cop to getting sauced on their boyfriend's stink; "Grade A Armpit," a girlfriend of mine calls it. But most people think I'm sort of weird and a bit gross for preferring my guy a few hours (days) ripe to freshly showered.
And then I saw this article about Sniffing Armpit Stains at a Pseudoscientific Singles "Pheromone Party" and felt so gloriously accepted – basically the exact opposite of how I felt in middle school when my hips started growing three times faster than my breast(lets).
The idea behind these parties is you wear a white shirt to bed a few nights, bring it to this fetish, er...singles party, and sniff anonymous soiled T-shirts. You then have the option of talking to the people who dug your dirty duds.
And then – then! The author of the post, lifestyle editor Amanda Hess, says she was unable to smell anyone that really tickled her pink, and when she told this to the event coordinator – who is also a film-maker and rapper who goes by the name Jangle Jangle – the woman, Judith Prays, asked if she was "sexually open." Hess says no, not really.
There isn't any more info on that in the post, and it leaves me wanting to track down this Jangle Jangle and pick her brain about what being sexually open has to do with enjoying the smell of a stinky shirt. I must know!
Does the fact that I am sexually adventurous and don't mind talking about balls on the Internet have something to do with enjoying the rankness beneath my boyfriend's arms? What do you think? And how do you feel about your partner's body odor? Am I a creep?