The Language Barrier: Deodorant

This week, our non-Spanish speaking man in Spain learns that you need to have a grasp of the basic hygiene essentials if you want to make cool adult friends.

Since moving to Spain, everything seems to have changed. Dinnertime is at midnight. People sleep during the day. And tomato soup is cold. Luckily then, I can seek solace in the routine that has bookended my week for as long as I can remember. Arsenal.

I love watching Arsenal. Though I rarely enjoy it. And so when my friend’s Dad suggested coming along to watch our match vs. Liverpool, my gut reaction was one of concern. I wasn’t sure that seeing me bleary eyed and sweary as Luis Suarez waltzed through our beleaguered back line for the umpteenth time was the best idea in the world.


The perfect spot make new friends/avoid speaking Spanish

However, it would be nice to have some new company, and so I excitedly obliged.

It was going quite well. I had bought my new Dad-friend a pint of manly Heineken, Dubliners Irish bar had a nice atmosphere and we were winning 1-0. But then I noticed something. The odorous scent of B.O. My B.O.

Maybe I was nervous about the new company. Maybe more about Per Mertesacker’s agility. Or perhaps it was because I had both slept and played football in the ‘FABREGAS 4’ shirt I was wearing without washing it. Either way, I smelt. Nay, I stunk. And something had to be done. I was despairing.


The scene

Then suddenly, like a light bulb above my head, I recalled the last time this had occurred. It was in year 12. And it was my birthday – a day in which physical proximity is commonplace while you are either hugged or beaten up. Catching a whiff of my malodourous armpits during a lesson, I popped my hand up to ask to go the toilet, nipped across the road to Tesco, grabbed a can of Lynx, sprayed under both arms, and shot back to the classroom. And no, that is not technically shoplifting. Google it.

So, politely excusing myself to “go and get some chewing gum”, I scuttled next door to the newsagent and began to peruse the shelf. Bingo! A small can with the word Bea written on it in the Nivea font. Underneath that it said hombre (man) and then a lot of Spanish I did not have time to even attempt to decipher.


Is that Nivea?

I waited for my opportune moment, reached for the bottle, ripped the cap off and sprayed. Ah. I thought. Much bette…. Wait. What the hell? That’s not deodorant. Panicking, I shoved my hand up my shirt. And there it was. A huge, soft, sticky globule of shaving foam.

I stood there, defeated. A used can of shaving foam in one hand, a mass of white bubbles in the other and the combination of B.O and bottled manliness emanating from beneath my Arsenal shirt.

Quickly putting the can back on the shelf, I dropped the white blob onto the floor and partially wiped my hand on a newspaper. Sprinting out of the shops and away from the shouts of the shopkeeper, I ran back into the pub, straight down the stairs and into the toilet. 5 minutes later I emerged having cleaned approximately a gallon of shaving foam off the inside of my shirt and took my place next to Dad-friend, just in time for the start of the second half. I looked at him, smiled, and through gritted teeth, muttered: “they didn’t have any chewing gum.”