Sunday, September 25, 2011


In an effort to hone my Marketing Geniosity, last week I attended a conference in Chicago on Sales & Marketing alignment.  The Boy and I flew in for a long weekend prior to the conference start, so I was already in town when my co-workers arrived on Monday. Upon arrival, one of them asked me if the hotel had a nice gym to which I sarcastically replied "how the hell would I know?" I am, in fact, the only person in the entire state of Colorado who does not exercise...and this for some reason makes me strangely proud.  Also, I hate traveling with tennis shoes.  They take up a lot of room that is better served by stiletto-heeled boots that make my ass look more height/weight commensurate-- and besides, tennis shoes typically reek.

Day One of the conference began at 8 a.m.  I am, on principle, against anything (other than sex) that begins at 8 a.m., but my height/weight commensurate butt was firmly planted in a front row seat as things kicked off.  I was feeling pretty good about the cuteness of my outfit:  hunter green riding pants, black sleeveless turtleneck, black military-style jacket and riding boots.  I gamely had my iPad out, all prepared to take copious notes and be a totally awesome employee/Marketing Genius, when I became distracted by the distinct smell of feet. I glanced around at the other attendees, trying to determine the source of the stench, smugly confident that my freshly laundered ensemble was not the issue, appalled that others are so careless  about their personal grooming habits.

As the opening speaker droned on, my sidetracked mind began to wander back to my morning routine and I remembered the distinct dirty tennis shoe smell that I caught a whiff of when I opened my tiny hotel closet that morning. While I had dismissed the smell as soon as I removed my outfit and shut the door, it suddenly occurred to me that the stench may have clung to my clothing...and that I was, in fact, the source of the distracting funk.

Vanity-induced panic set in. Could other people smell it? Would they, based on just how awful my humidity-ruined hair looked, suspect that I was the malodorous one? And what exactly could I do to remedy the situation?

Like any sane person would do in this situation, I immediately updated my Facebook status. To my delight, a friend named Theresa suggested I get busy with some Febreeze at the next break. So thirty minutes later I found myself in a nearby Walgreens, obsessing over the age-old dilemma: Febreeze or dryer sheets?  Febreeze or dryer sheets?? Naturally, I chose both.  I briefly considered also stuffing a Christmas tree-shaped air-freshener in my pocket but thought it might be overkill. Plus, I didn't want to give anyone the chance to ask, "Is that a Christmas tree-shaped air-freshener in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?" (which I would totally do).

I scurried into the Starbucks bathroom while a hipster barista hand-crafted me a bad-ass skinny vanilla latte and considered my options. Febreeze would likely do a better odor-eliminating job (thank you, Marketing folks), but I knew there wasn't time for it to dry before I had to be back in session.  So I opted for the dryer sheets. After a quick but thorough rub-down, I snagged my latte and returned to my seat, enveloped by the distinctly fresh smell of Bounce and feeling like a female MacGyver.  MacGalver, if you will.

Finally, I could pay attention-- which was great because the keynote speaker was about to begin and he alone was worth the price of admission to this conference.

Within minutes, I could smell feet again.  I silently cursed the shortness of the break and my resultant inability to Febreeze myself and tried valiantly to pay attention to Simon Sinek rhapsodizing about "Finding the Why," all the while uncomfortably aware that I smelled like a fashionably-dressed foot wrapped in a dryer sheet. I was pretty sure that Simon was brilliant, but all I could think about was the Febreeze in my purse-- like a fat kid with a Ding-Dong in her lunch box.

And then I giggled,  because I said "Ding-Dong."

Finally, we broke for lunch. I hurried up to my room, stripped down to my skivvies, and Febreezed the ever-loving crap out of my clothing. Then I remembered to close my drapes. You're welcome, across-the-street office workers. I'm sure there are few things sexier than a panicked middle-aged woman with a completely un-ironic afro in her underwear wielding a bottle of Febreeze like a sword.

I returned to the afternoon session, resplendent in my Febreezed glory. Finally I could leave my self-consciousness behind and concentrate on the Marketing subject matter at hand, which had almost nothing to do with foot odor, as near as I could tell.

Approximately 10 minutes in, I could smell feet again. Sure, it was faint and nearly inoffensive, more like the smell of a foot wrapped in a dryer sheet traipsing through a field of lavender than anything else. But there it was.

And THAT, dear reader, is exactly why I don't work out.

It's also why, when asked by my boss to share with the rest of the team my Marketing Genius-like key learnings from the Sales & Marketing Alignment conference, I was able to dazzle them with "It's really crucial that Sales & Marketing be aligned."

Continuing Education is awesome.

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