Ask Matt Labash

Ask Matt Labash, Vol. XIII: Sexual decathletes, smelly friends, and ‘bagging’ a prom date

Matt Labash Columnist
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I read you found it interesting that you have not fielded many questions about sex. Why do you think people get creeped out about you discussing sex?—Bill Cubin

It’s hard to say, Bill. But “creeped out” is such a strong term. I tend to think of it differently. The peacock in me would like to believe the scarcity of sex questions is because of intimidation. Due to my overactive pheromones and generous spritzes of Drakkar Noir, many just assume that I’m a sexual decathlete. And who wants to go up against Bruce Jenner? I mean back when he was an Olympian decathlete, still on the Wheaties box? Not after he married into the Kardashian family, had lots of unfortunate plastic surgery, and started looking like the third Indigo Girl.

But I’m also a realist, and I know that the readers of this column are nothing if not perceptive. So they’ve probably picked up on the fact that this lion’s roar is quieting. It’s not that I don’t like sex. I do. Or did. Sex and me—we’ve had some great times together. But I’m also nearly 40 years old. And at my advanced age, sex is just starting to feel sticky and noisy and smells like burning Bridgestone radials. At least it does if you’re doing it right.

Sometimes, when I’m at the bottom of a sweaty dog pile, with the wind knocked out of me and one eye stuck shut from carelessly applied apple butter, I ask myself, “Do I really want to be here? Or would I rather just be in my comfortable pilates pants and track shoes, going out for a beautiful Sunday afternoon of stairwell somersaulting and park bench-hurdling with my Parkour team?”

Consequently, I’m starting to think that I’ve had my day in the sex sun. Maybe it’s time to step aside, and let a younger person with more energy have a chance to romance my special someone. She is a remarkable woman, too. I could make a list of all her stellar qualities. In fact, I’ll do so now:

  1. She can kill with a smile.
  2. She can wound with her eyes.
  3. She can ruin your faith with her casual lies.
  4. She only reveals what she wants you to see.
  5. She hides like a child.
  6. But she’s always a woman to me.

Now that I’m semi-retired, if you’d like an opportunity to court her, send a resume and two photos to her at

Dearest Matt, one of my very best friends stinks to the point where I don’t want to be around him anymore. How can I tell him about the odor issues without hurting his feelings? Please help. Many thanks. — Johanna

Sadly, I’m not sure that’s possible, Johanna. Sure, you could go the subtle route: showing up for outings with nose plugs, giving him a bar of soap with a note that says “use this,” tagging him with pet names like “Stanky” and “Sir Rottencrotch.” But he might not get the hint, and then you’re back to square one.

True scientific fact: women are more attuned to smells than are men, and they’re generally not attracted to men’s natural scent except—due to biological imperatives—when they’re ovulating. If you could find something to make you ovulate full-time, you’d be in the clear.

Unless it’s not just his natural scent. If he stinks because he doesn’t wash his clothes, for instance, that’s man-made stink, not God-made stink. The challenge then—your challenge—is to make him smell himself. The way I see it, the only graceful way to do this is to regularly sniff the air suspiciously, then ask him if he cut one. Feel free to put this in your own words: “Are you harboring a terrorist?”—whatever. But this will do two things:

  • make him self-conscious
  • cause him to smell himself with fresh nostrils

And it will do so without it looking as though you’re indicting his very essence. You’re not saying he stinks. You’re saying something that exists independently of him, but that may have originated from his direction, stinks. You are loving the sinner, while hating the sin.

The risk you run, of course, is what social scientists call the Whoever-Smelt-it-Dealt-It Boomerang Effect. After you identify this foreign odor, he may assume it’s coming from you. And guys don’t like girls who are wind-breakers. Be prepared: you very well may lose him. In which case, the problem is still solved. And all you have to do is get a new best friend who smells better.

Do you have any advice for a right wing Presbyterian trying to bag a prom date? — Albert Prince III

I’m glad you brought this up, Albert. It is that glorious time of year again: prom time. When young men your age steal their dad’s prophylactics, make dinner reservations at the Red Lobster, and rent tuxes that hundreds of other young men before them have worn on one of the most amorous nights of their lives. Which is why I suggest wearing hazmat pants underneath—just to be safe.

Regarding your question. I do have some tips: First, don’t bother telling her you’re a Presbyterian. I personally love the Presbyterian people. They’re good, honest folk who commit very few aggravated assaults. But telling girls you’re a Presbyterian, much like being a Presbyterian, is pointless. As the old joke says, “Presbyterians are Baptists who like to drink, but who don’t have enough money to be Episcopalians.” Considering the church has been hemorrhaging members since the 1960s, if you find a nice Presbyterian “girl,” she will likely be the only one at the prom who is post-menopausal. Volunteering that you’re a Presbyterian to girls your own age says that you are safe, staid and colorless. If Protestant denominations were rock stars, Presbyterians would be Daughtry.

Second, there’s absolutely no point in telling her that you’re right-wing. At least not now. Though girls mature faster than we do, chances are your prospective prom date will not achieve political maturity until she finishes college. The only thing “right-wing” means to her at the moment is that you sit around nodding your head to Rush Limbaugh broadcasts all day, complaining about Obamacare and that blasted liberal media, just like her domineering old man, whom she hates, and whose influence will cause her to experiment with lesbianism until she’s a junior, when she will snap out of it, and begin looking for a solid, dependable khaki-panted Presbyterian-type who is just like her dad to spend the rest of her life with. Until then, be apolitical or pretend you’re an angry feminist.

Lastly, you do not “bag” a prom date. A prom date is a lady. Treat her as such. Request the privilege of her company with respect and courtesy. Pin her with a corsage. Hold the door of your tacky white stretch limousine open for her. Compliment her on her tramp stamp, and pretend that you haven’t seen the pictures of her that she sexted to half the football team. Some rituals are timeless. Respect the traditions.

Matt Labash is a senior writer with the Weekly Standard magazine. His book, “Fly Fishing With Darth Vader: And Other Adventures with Evangelical Wrestlers, Political Hitmen, and Jewish Cowboys,” is just published from Simon and Schuster. Have a question for Matt Labash? Submit it here.