Ask the Monkey: Positively Uncouth
Dear The Monkey,
My cubicle-mate at work smells like whatever he ate for breakfast all day long. Does he even know how to use utensils or does he just eat with his hands?! Ew. How can I tell him that his odor is an offense to others without hurting his feelings too badly?
Sincerely, Positively Uncouth
The Monkey Responds:
Your coworker suffers from a rare condition called handspophobia. Its name combines hand and spo, which are Latin for “hand” and “spork,” respectively. And of course, phobia, which is Latin for “sissy.” In layman’s terms, handspophobics are afraid of utensils.
The first documented case occurred in 1974, when a well-meaning anthropologist by the name of Charles Spudkin tried and failed to introduce an Icelandic hunter-gatherer tribe to civilization by way of airlifting in lawn darts, Archie comics, and Stuffed Crust Pizza. (The lawn darts, incidentally, would be Spudkin’s literally fatal mistake). Tsokrnbpp, the lone man who did respond positively to Spudkin’s civilizing efforts nevertheless exhibited the utensil-fearing conditions described above, likely as a result of his banishment from the tribe for rejecting their heritage and preferring Veronica to Betty. His name was later immortalized in the American legal system with Tsokrnbpp’s Law, which requires known handspophobics to notify the local populace of their arrival in a new neighborhood.
In the late 1980s, further studies indicated that handspophobics routinely exhibited masochistic tendencies as well, with 93% of adult subjects admitting to having placed personal ads in search of dominant complements to their submissives.
So the good news is that you don’t have to be concerned about hurting your coworker’s feelings, because contempt and rejection is precisely what he craves.
However, the real problem here isn’t your coworker’s handspophobia or your insensitivity; it is an employer that crams multiple employees into single cubicles. I’ve got news for you, PU: even non-handspophobics smell like breakfast when they’re three inches away from you all day. Find another job.