I have a classmate who has survived cancer and we are happy for him, BUT he has decided to skip soaps and shampoos because he wants to live a very “natural” chemical-free life. He comes to the class smelling really bad, he just bath himself with some warm water and not everyday, he doesn’t use laundry soap to wash his clothes, his hair is oily and dirty, he doesn’t use toothpaste to brush his teeth. He is becoming a problem in the class because of his smell. We like him but it is becoming really difficult to tolerate his smell. I’m very careful with my money but yesterday in desperation I bought a Hugo Boss perfume to spray on my shirt collar before attending classes.
Just described 20% of my classmates back in my college days in Florida. I hope at least he has the decency to wear some form of shoes to class. Way to many times I’ve encountered these hippy wannabes coming into the classroom on their skateboards barefoot.
give him a bag of 無患子 (soap nuts) en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sapindus
there are plenty of them in Taiwan. If he absolutely will not use anything in a bottle even if it is natural, then just give him that…
or maybe he can accept the power form
Remind him germs from the mouth travel down the stomach and cause ulcers, cancer, heart problems… The issue is not only the smell, but rather health. There are options without that many chemicals, in both soap and deodorant and shampoo. Even water has chemicals -he should buy a filter for the shower if he’s going the long way.
Hopefully, winter will be here soon and some of your pain will be lessened. One hopes.
Have you ever taught adults? Welcome to my world. A couple of people in every class always stink, either pits, tooth decay, or colon breath through missed meals.
It’s kinder to let it go. As you say, he has his reasons, and his feelings pretty much take precedence over your comfort at the moment. He’s fragile: don’t be a dick.
He’s being a self indulgent twat. Tell him he stinks like a barnyard and be done with it. You don’t get a “get out of life free” card because you survive cancer. Treating him with kid gloves isn’t doing him any favours nor are you doing yourself any.
Why don’t you go and tell him to his face, tough guy?
Sure, Tomas. I’ll wait until I regain my strength after chemo, though.
There are also some great natural toothpastes he can use, he needs a friend to help him get over his phobia.
Perhaps in the meantime you could tone down the harshness, given that you might understand some of his fears.
Chemo isn’t a license to judge others with cancer.
Fears? Of soap? Holy chromoly the PC police are out in full force here. Going through chemo doesn’t give me the right to judge others with cancer. Going through chemo does give me perspective that you don’t have though. The title says “Stinky Classmate”. The kid is either milking his “untouchability” as a cancer survivor or he’s mentally retarded. Either way he’s imposing himself on others by being a slob and I’m imposing on you by being an asshole. Maybe you could be a little more empathetic about my fears of you all painting the world pink around me.
I’m confused. Which cancer guy gets my “awwwww?” :s
I think your perspective is a bit fucked. I’d never have a go at anyone because they smelled bad. What an unkind thing to to do! I mean, we spend our days tolerating people who fall short because it’s the well-mannered thing to do. Why hurt someone’s feelings over NOTHING? Just sit near a vent.
People impose. We can’t live without taking up space. Do you expect to live your life not being upset or offended and ‘fighting’ when it gets unjust? Are you saving up for a heart attack and a stroke as well?
[quote=“flatlandr”]my fears of you all painting the world pink around me.
What does that mean? I’m not Swedish or whereever you’re from.
We have been suffering in silence because no one (including me) feels comfortable forcing him to live with soap, shampoo and tooth paste. He had a tough battle with cancer (tumor in the stomach), but we have been telling him gently that untidiness can help grow germs and he could get infections, besides he lives in a home with 2 stray dogs. Cancer didn’t kill him but infections are easier to get if a person doesn’t clean himself properly. But really, how can people live without soap? It is not like soap is the main culprit, the air in Taiwan has enough pollutants to contribute to this condition. Do we move to other country because of that?
I think the most practical, and least confrontational, advice given so far has been Hansioux’s.
The problem is that you are dealing with someone that is emotionally scarred by his experience. It doesn’t make it okay but it will be very difficult to have a logical conversation with them. It’s unfortunate that his new phobia is putting him further at risk while alienating those around him.
Abacus said it better.
Quite. It might be better to get a professional involved (school counsellor?). My cousin was a bit weird (unsurprisingly) for a year or two after chemo. It really ought to be up to the hospital to offer a bit of counselling to people who have just done battle with the grim reaper, but it doesn’t seem to occur to anybody that it might be necessary. He’s not going to respond to logic - there’s more to this than wanting to avoid ‘unnatural’ stuff.
Having said that … it’s quite possible to keep clean without soap if you wash regularly and thoroughly with hot water (I don’t use soap because I’m allergic to it - and I have it on good authority I smell nice). Someone else mentioned soapnuts, and you can also use zingiber zerumbet flowers for shampoo if you want to really get in touch with your earth-mother side (rhizomes are available at the big Taipei flower market). Toothpaste … well, I recall one of those cultural-exchange programmes on TV where they sent a bunch of squishy Japanese people to the jungles of Borneo, where they proceeded to demonstrate their magical toothbrushes and toothpaste to the locals. Locals looked at them like they were crazy, gave them a bunch of prepared twigs, and showed them how to chew them. I imagine “chewing sticks” are available online. There are always alternatives. Humanity did survive for a rather long time before modern chemistry.
I laughed hysterically when I read this. And well said.