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Thanks goes to the receptionist

link Grant McGee

Local columnist

Stephen Gaskin died a few weeks ago. He was well known in some circles, probably best as co-founder of a big hippie-type commune over in Tennessee.

When I think of Gaskin and that commune I think of someone I worked with long ago. I'll call her Alice.

Alice came to the radio station where I worked fresh from that commune. She told tales of happy hippie folks working together, communal gardening in the nude and sharing everything. She didn’t say whether everyone shared toothbrushes or not. I didn’t ask.

One thing Alice brought back to civilization from the commune was body odor.

Alice at the station every day was an aromatic sensation. And I don’t mean that in a good way.

We talked about her out of earshot.

“What do we do?” asked one staff member.

“I don’t know, I’ve never run into this before,” said another.

We turned to our boss.

“I can’t talk to a woman about body odor,” he said. “She should know better.”

“My dad said they had a smelly guy in his barracks at basic training in the Army,” I piped up. “They cleaned him up with a wire brush and some lye soap.”

My co-workers looked at me.

Okay, so I couldn’t actually see us hauling Alice out of her office and dunking her in the river out back. We’d probably all end up in the state penitentiary.

Then one day there was no smell.

“You can thank me,” said the front receptionist.

We all looked at her with wide eyes.

“I got tired of customers coming in here thinking that smell was me,” she explained. “So I took Alice out to lunch. When we were about done I pulled out some deodorant, slammed it on the table and said, ‘Use this or I’m gonna haul your butt to the river out back of the radio station and throw you in.”

Sure beat the heck out of a wire brush and lye soap.

Grant McGee is a long-time broadcaster and former truck driver who rides bicycles and likes to talk about his many adventures on the road of life. Contact him a his blog:

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