The Stench Among Us
The owner of a Southwestern game shop posted a peculiar sign. It stated that those who participate in games at the shop could be ejected for having a bad odor. Whether it emanates from their clothes or themselves, stinkers will be given the boot at that shop.
A customer questioned the necessity for the sign. The shopkeeper replied that it was necessary. And from my many years hobby experience, I can confirm that. For various reasons, hobbies in general and gaming specifically attract an undo share of stinky people.
I was working at a hobby shop about 12 years ago. The shop had a little of everything: trains, games, fantasy figures and such.
One day, a chubby fellow in dirty khakis came into the shop. He had unkempt hair and wore a large pentagram around his neck. (The oversized pentagram would have gotten ridicule from my Wiccan friends.) I could smell him as soon as he came in the door. Tucking my Thor’s Hammer pendant under my collar, I hoped he did not want to start a conversation with me.
The smelly fellow looked about at gaming supplies, then came to the counter. He told me he could bring many gamers into the store. I got the impression he was hinting at a job. And I knew the owner would never have hired him. It turns out the man who worked weekend evenings knew who he was. The stinker had been one of a small pack of gamers who frequented the shop a few years earlier. He was known for his stench. Think of burnt poop.
For my part, I moved about behind the counter so as to dissuade conversation with the portly stench man. I also acted as if I knew little of gaming. He eventually left, promising to bring his friends.
I never saw or smelled him again.
There were other creeps and stinkers. Two very weird, middle aged individuals came in one day to look at trains. I directed them to the counter that had their scale. The smaller one who smelled like month-old smelts wanted to tell me about his trains. He had a reedy little voice, “I have Fleischmann and ....”
It was obvious that these two were not going to buy anything. They just wanted to talk to somebody.
I moved slowly to another part of the counter, and he followed me, still going on about his trains.
(A hint for the unknowing: the guy at the hobby counter does not want to hear you go on about your trains ,especially if the shop does not carry that brand.)
The little man asked if I was into trains and N scale. I didn’t tell him I run one of the largest non-commercial model railroading websites. My reply was an outright lie, “I don’t know much about trains. I am into fantasy gaming.”
The little man tried to continue his train talk, starting to explain something about trains to me. I smiled and said, “Yeah, I really don’t know about that. My thing is the stuff in this aisle.”
I pointed at the 25mm figures and fantasy gaming models.
By this time, his friend had finished looking at the counter and rejoined him.
“Is there anything you want,” I asked.
They shook their heads and left. I heard the fishy-stinky man say as they left, "I really wanted to talk to a train guy, but all he knows is that creepy stuff.”
Another customer was right there in the shop at the time. He knew that I was into trains, miniature soldiers and military vehicles. He said it was all he could do to keep from laughing. “I didn’t want to talk to those two, either” he blurted. Then he asked, “How much do you know about this fantasy stuff?
“Nowhere near as much as I know about trains, “I replied.
Back in the 70s, I was invited to play a medieval game at a friend’s house. He had a few people there. I knew about half of them. We were using a rule set I knew well. Setting up was pretty easy. Sitting at one end of the table was a big, shabby looking fellow. I did not know him. However, as the night wore on, I got more than a whiff. Suffice to say that by the end of the game, he was at one end of the table and everyone else was at the other end. He smelled of stale sweat and desiccated poop. The smell just got worse with each round.
I agreed to drive a couple of the players home. As we were leaving, my friend asked if I could drive the big stinker home. I stated that I was going in the other direction. As we got in the car, my passengers thanked me for ditching the portly pooper. A Ford Maverick is too confined a space for that!
Which makes me ask: have you ever had to ride next to a human stink bomb in a car? Do you worry that some of the stench might rub off on you?
The fact is that slobs, dirt-bags and human stink bombs are a hazard of hobbies. They can make an otherwise fun thing unpleasant. And for the dense duds who don’t know, think about this. If people don’t want to give you a ride, don’t want to have a conversation with you and don’t want to sit near you at the gaming table, take a hint. It’s time to shake hands with a bar of soap and introduce your attire to the laundry on a more frequent basis. Nobody likes a stench, especially when it emanates from a stinking, malodorous slob.