The woman stretched. She’d never put curtains on the windows, she liked to see the sky. She could tell that on the other side of the house the sun was casting rays just above the eastern horizon. She moved her leg across her mate’s, as he lay gently snoring, knowing he would need to get up for work soon.

She remembered the first time she had done that. Rubbed her leg against his. The first time they’d been in bed together. She had never slept with a man before him. She had liked his hairy legs against her smooth ones. When she was little she had crept into bed with her mother, her Dad a middle of the night worker. She remembered the gentle, prickly razor stubble that scraped against hers. But a man’s. Now that was different. And nice in so many ways.

She stretched again, moving slightly beside him and he put his arm across her belly.

As she stretched, her arms up high, she detected something.

She wrinkled her nose.

She put her arms down.

She breathed in.

She lifted her arms again and only sightly inclined her head towards her right shoulder.

She put her arms down and thought.

There under her arm were sebaceous and apocrine glands that according to research were at the heart of what attracted that hairy legged man that lay beside her. Or at least part of the reason he was attracted to her.

Those glands were spewing out unsaturated or hydroxylated branched fatty acids, sulfanylalkanols, and the odoriferous steroids androstenone and androstenol.

Which is what they are supposed to do.

But maybe not quite at this level.

She lifted her arm slightly. Wow. It’d be hard to judge this attractive.

“I know,” he whispered, “your armpits smell horrible.” And he rolled over.

She’d have feigned indignancy, but they did.

“I don’t understand it,” she murmured to herself, laying back, recalling the glorious bath she took every night, had the very night before, using soap she’d found on one of her trips to Florida. It was sweet smelling Greek soap.

She pulled her bare leg out from under the covers and like a dance practiced a thousand times, her mate felt her move and even half asleep, moved towards her to be close.  And as he rolled over, having lifted his own arm above his head, out from underneath his hairy armpits, rolled the same smell.

“So do yours!” she fairly screamed with relief, because although she would never tell him, she’d never known him to smell like this.

As his eyes watered a bit, his nose wrinkled in distaste, he lowered both his arms.

“Its that damn elk meat we are eating,” she said jumping up and back down onto floor, smelling her armpit just once more in disbelief.

Geez..

“No it isn’t.” he said. “You must’ve contaminated my armpit with yours during the night. I took a shower. I don’t smell like this.”

Really.

The woman knew this not be the case. Bacteria were one thing and she knew what it smelled like to have honest sweat where the tiny little Corynebacteria make lipases that break down all those molecules mentioned above into stinkier ones. And she knew about contamination.

This was not that.

“You keep on telling me my armpits are the reason your armpits stink. That doesn’t even make sense. How do you suspect that happened?”

“You probably had your arm above your head sleeping on your back like you do and my armpit got close to yours and then your armpit contaminated mine.”

“That’s insane. I am going to go take bath,” she said, smiling into the words. This was part of their companionship. Part of the way they communicated. They’d been together too long for her to wonder if he really thought she had poisoned his stinky armpit.

“It’s the elk,” she tossed back at him, peeling her gown off and drawing the water.

As she settled into the tub, making sure there was so much water that it rose to her neck, well above her shoulders and pits, she closed her eyes.

“I brought you your coffee naked to you while you are bathing,” he said.

She peered through one eye, careful not to show too much interest.

There he stood, her favorite coffee mug in hand. Across his chest, just faintly under the soft curls of the hair she could see the scar where they had broken his breast bone, replumbed his heart, and metal stapled it all back together. She’d bathed him that year, in the shower of his hospital room, tubes hanging all over him, iodine coloring his chest. She saw the slight bulge just above his heart that looked a bit like a buried pack of cigarettes. They had argued about that. It was connected to their telephone and should his heart fail from the electric side of things, it would shock it back into rhythm.

They’d been together through this. And more.

“Just what I wanted,” she said trying to sound irritated while she laughed, ” a naked man interrupting my bath.”

The coffee he handed her was just like she liked.

She thought.

I should probably take him his coffee one of these days soon while he baths. And be naked. Let’s face it, the whole idea translates much better that way.

Except he showers.

But then there are always coffee mugs with lids.

He even has a favorite one.

Theirs has not been a perfect marriage. They’ve had their ups and downs. But he has taught her one thing. A sense of humor goes a long way.

Yeah, shower coffee.

When you get older, foreplay serves a different purpose.

Disclaimer for the author’s sons: This is not about your parents. We have never seen each other naked.