Moonlight lovingly edged the ancient cobblestones. It wasn’t a square or plaza – nothing so grand. Osteria No. 8 (or maybe it was Osteria No. 7 or Osteria No. 21 – I don’t remember anymore) had its outside seating in a wide place in the street. Rome passed along beyond the low planters, but the pace was leisurely – just right for an Italian summer after sundown
We were having dinner at a place we just happened across after a day of tourism. The waiter set a large, shallow bowl before me; almost a broad dish. It was filled with heaven. A broth, fragrant with fresh herbs. Pliant, compliant potatoes, cubed and fetching. Beans – blameless and curved. Fresh carrots. Onions, sweet and nearly translucent. The occasional coquettish and winking noodle.
“Minestrone,” he said with a shrug that said both “nothing – air – merely the bare minimum for life’s survival” as well as “others may have fallen from the pure path but we hold to the old ways here at Osteria No. 8. Spoon up the glory and feel your life’s essence restored. Here is a reason to rise each morning; something to give your soul to – something worth dying for.”
I’ve never forgotten that simple, extraordinary soup…
…so when I tell you I know how good soup CAN smell, please believe me.
That’s not how I smell.
No one talks much about menopause. Sure, you finally put paid to the messiness of menstruation, and that’s a bonus. The underwear takes a decided turn for the better. And we’re all taught to fear hot flashes.
But no one told me that the change in my hormones would alter the way my sweat smells.
I keep smelling soup when I work out. Not ethereal, ambrosial Roman minestrone – no. I’m talking about the tinny, salty odor of cheap canned soup. Condensed, so the smell is strong and assertive.
WHAT THE HELL??
It turns out that’s ME smelling like a bad chicken noodle soup.
My pits still smell like the primate house at the zoo, and my crotch still has that secret hot scent when I get an unplanned whiff (which sometimes happens; those trainers at Body Dynamics sometimes get me in strange positions where I’m confronted, astonishingly, with my own Lycra-clad genitalia).
It’s the rest of me that smells different.
“Jeez,” said Barbara as she was putting me through bird-dogs. (Hands and knees; now reach out, fore and aft, with one hand and the opposite leg. Don’t let your hip dip. Don’t arch your back.) “It smells like soup back here again.”
“It’s ME!” I collapsed to the mat (which smelled a great deal better than I did). “Menopause has made me smell like bad chicken noodle!”
There aren’t many things you can say to a trainer with Barbara’s experience and knowledge, but I think I really did startle her with that one. “What?”
I explained that my body chemistry had shifted WITHOUT MY PERMISSION and I wasn’t sure what to do about it. This made her laugh – but I still don’t know how to handle this. I can put deodorant on the primate house, and I can keep the nether regions clean. But what am I supposed to do when the skin over my chest exudes the smell of cheap soup until I hie me to the showers??
And if I ate a better quality of minestrone – say, if I moved to Rome and ate exclusively at the various osterias – could I improve the quality of my personal fragrance?!?
And wouldn’t it be a delicious experiment to try?