Deodorants are a Girl's Best Friend By: Erin Brody
Evelyn Neworth ran under the red cloth awning that said Café Canelé in golden cursive. She looked at her diamond-encrusted watch and sighed out of relief when the time read back 1:45. She had five extra minutes to prepare for the meeting that would decide if she got promoted to regional manager of the Seattle branch of Leroux’s Lines, a fashion company that originated in France.
After shaking the rain from her umbrella, Evelyn placed the umbrella into her light pink tote purse and checked for scuff marks on her black high heels. Seeing she was presentable, she walked into the café and prayed that her makeup wasn’t running.
The café’s walls were red bricks while the floor was cherry wood. The counter was also wood, and behind it was a giant chalkboard with different coffees and snacks written in white and blue calligraphy. All the tables were made out of black metal, and the booths along the walls had wooden tables and dark red cushions.
Evelyn sat at one of the tables next to the window and looked around the café, immediately feeling like the odd one. Everyone in the café was between the ages of 13 and 25 and wore flannels or a sweatshirt with some college’s name plastered on top and ripped jeans. They either sat down and hid behind sticker-ridden laptops or held them in line as they ordered the most elaborate drink they could think of.
Meanwhile, Evelyn wore a white, ruffled blouse underneath a black suit jacket. A black pencil skirt wrapped around her waist, and sheer tights embraced her legs. Her blonde hair was tied into a tight, painful bun, and her brown eyes hid behind white cat-eye glasses.
She felt the tiniest bit of sweat across her forehead, and she began to fan herself. This meeting could be a breakthrough moment in her career. She couldn’t mess this up. She must look her best for Madame Leroux, the owner of the company. Checking her watch again, she saw that it was 1:53. Her new boss was supposed to be here three minutes ago. Did she even bother to fly from Versailles to here? Did she think Evelyn was not worth her time?
Evelyn grabbed her other bag, a black purse with a golden chain strap, and dug through it to search for her phone. Having no luck, she dumped everything she had in there, watching keys, makeup, and multiple bracelets fall out. No sign of her phone.
But there was something she didn’t expect to find: Dove deodorant. It was an on-the-go version with the words “CLINICAL CARE” written for all to see, which is what’s needed when one has hyperhidrosis. The smell of sweet cucumbers emanated from it before she even had the chance to take off the lid. Judging by the dirt-rimmed labels that peeled off in some corners, it had been there for a long time.
When did I put this in here? she thought. I swear this was in a different purse.
“Ah, Ms. Neworth!” someone with a French accent said from the doorway. Evelyn looked up, and there stood a brunette woman with red lipstick, painfully white teeth, and outstretched arms. She wore a purple dress underneath her rain jacket. Her heels clicked against the floor as Evelyn hurriedly gathered everything and shoved it into her purse.
“Madame Leroux,” she said, getting up and pulling out her seat. “It’s good to see you again. Everything in Versailles is well, I take it?”
“Dear, I can pull out my own chair,” Madame Leroux said with a wave of her hand. Evelyn’s cheeks reddened as she went back to her seat. “But yes, everything is fine.”
“I’m glad to hear that. Would you like me to buy you a drink?”
“You expected me to pay?”
“No! That’s not what I meant. I mean, I’ll pay, just what would you like to drink?”
“Nothing, my dear. Your American coffee isn’t what I prefer to drink.”
Evelyn’s cheeks grew hotter, and she could feel sweat stains forming on her blouse and overcoat. Realizing this, she started sweating more, and her days of being stuck in a hot, middle school classroom while her bully would laugh at the sweat stains that reached to her hips flashed before her eyes.
“Ms. Neworth, you seem distracted,” Madame Leroux said. “If you plan on being in charge, then you must know how to focus. I have a busy schedule, and I need your full attention.”
As Madame Leroux dramatically leaned back and explained how as a poor girl from Vaucluse she worked her way to the top, Evelyn felt her blouse and overcoat get more and more damp.
Middle school never ends, she thought with horror. I need some deodorant. I’ll smell like a bum from New Jersey if I don’t put any on.
Reaching for her purse, Evelyn unzipped it and searched for her savior: the clinical care, on-the-go, cucumber scented deodorant. She wanted to jump out of her seat and sing when her fingers brushed against a peeling label.
Madame Leroux slapped the table and glared at her. “Look at me when I talk to you. Anyways, my affair with the Norwegian mailman had gone for long enough, and that’s when…”
Evelyn’s hands were wrapped tightly around the deodorant while she stared at Madame Leroux with wide eyes. Never wavering her eye contact, Evelyn slowly placed the purse in her lap and pulled out the deodorant. Madame Leroux began to trail off when the deodorant lid came off with a satisfying pop! Evelyn unbuttoned her jacket with her left hand while her right held onto the deodorant, lifted one arm high in the air, and slowly wiped the deodorant on her left armpit then continued to do the same with the right.
Madame Leroux stared at Evelyn with her mouth hanging open. Evelyn didn’t even blink once during the three minutes it took her to apply deodorant, and she still didn’t blink when she slowly snapped the lid back on and placed it in her purse.
Placing her purse on the floor and leaning back in her seat as if nothing happened, Evelyn asked, “Is something wrong, Madame? You seem distracted for some reason.”
“Ms. Neworth, I mean this is the kindest, most loving way possible: what the hell is wrong with you?”
“Hyperhidrosis, Madame, which brings me to what I wish the company would design more of: perspiration-stain resistant shirts.”
"This past summer, I was part of a writing workshop at Duquesne University. We were supposed to draw inspiration from people in the café then we had to incorporate an object." --Erin Brody of Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School.