I've had some time to recover and reflect about my encounter with Bacon Man. That's not his name. I slapped that label on him because I don't know his name and I've only been able to recognize him--the few times that I have--because he smells strongly like a piece of bacon.
He doesn't look like a piece of bacon (not that anyone could--but I guess you could say someone looked like bacon if you wanted to imply that they looked like a pig). He doesn't look like a pig. But he is a heavyset man, not very tall--burly, beefy and roughly in his late 30's or 40's but it's hard to tell since he has a thick beard.
I first encountered Bacon Man in February. I was riding the 12 back home. I had finished a class at the Writer's Grotto, and it was late... 10pm. There are quite a few people riding the bus back from SOMA out of downtown, but they're usually people getting off their shift as servers, hostesses or cooks. I was sitting on a two-seater facing out the window when I suddenly smelled a waft of smoky, salty bacon. It was cold and I welcomed the aroma (beats the other smells that are on MUNI). I thought someone was eating a BLT or a hamburger. But when I turned to my right, I noticed that the smell was coming from the gentleman sitting next to me.
He was wearing jeans and a sweatshirt. He looked tired like he had gotten off from work. I assumed that he worked at a restaurant and had been grilling bacon all day. I didn't take further notice of him, but was surprised how strongly he smelled of bacon all the way through the ride.
I then encountered Bacon Man a second time on the 12, this time in the morning. It was a few weeks ago and the 14 had a meltdown (as it always does) so I was taking the 12 to work instead. This time I sat down next to him not knowing he was Bacon Man until I recognized his scent. I studied him out of the corner of my eye and I realized that he was the same bearded, heavy-set man that smelled like bacon a couple of months ago. But he was dressed in training pants and sneakers and looked like he was heading to the gym instead of coming from work.
My god! I thought. Does one smell like the food they cook all the time if they work at the grill?
He must've noticed that I was looking at him, and turned his head to look at me. I was caught off-guard and looked straight ahead, embarrassed... and hoping he didn't think I was checking him out.
All through the ride, I kept wondering why he smelled so strongly of bacon. Did he eat it all the time? Now that he was exercising was he sweating it out through his pores? The mystery would constantly revisit me throughout the day. I became afraid of eating bacon, even though I like bacon. But I was afraid I would smell like him, and I didn't want to become like that. It seemed like there was a tipping point with bacon--a point of no return--that once you ate too much bacon, you smelled like bacon and it would never go away.
And then, last weekend I was heading home to see my mother and sister for the weekend and boarded BART at Powell. At the Montgomery stop, he got on and sat next to me. I didn't notice it was him until I smelled that strong, unforgiving smell. I almost gasped--it was the strangest coincidence that he would be sitting next to me, again! But I was 100% sure it was the same Bacon Man, and not just another buffy bearded dude that smelled like bacon. In my heart, I knew that this was more than just some haphazard seating assignment. I felt like fate wanted me to get to the bottom of the mystery as to why this man smelled like bacon.
BART seats allow people to sit closer together because they're not bucket-like as they are on MUNI. I leaned to my right, and tried to smell him discreetly.
Was it coming from his arms and hands? If so, that meant, he worked with bacon. Was it coming from his face? If that was the case, he ate bacon too often. I sniffed him upwards above his shoulder as he was taller than me and my head couldn't really reach his face. Then I pretended to fiddle with my shoe as I tried to catch a whiff from his hand that was resting on his knee. I couldn't understand! He smelled like bacon everywhere!!
Then, he turned to look at me, straight in the face. But his chin was tilted and he was batting his eyes, in what was a rather seductive stare. I realized that I must've sent signals that I was flirting with him by smelling him. I didn't know what to do... I was caught red-handed sniffing him out. I forced out a half-apologetic and half-embarrassed smile and got off that the next stop in West Oakland and waited another 20 minutes for the next train to come.
All the way home, I tried to figure out why he smelled like that. And then it hit me.
I remember working a late shift at the hostel and my coworker telling me that he was going to buy bacon perfume as a gift for his friend... or was it a friend buying it as a gift for another friend? Anyhow, he showed me the product online and I was disgusted.
"Gross, who would want to spray bacon-smelling perfume all over their body?" I asked.
"People who really like bacon," he explained.
"I like blue cheese, but I'm not going to douse myself with it," I replied.
He just shrugged his shoulders and told me that blue cheese was different and that for some people smelling like bacon was probably sexy and alluring. I remember thinking that no one bought it and if there was someone who did, then he was a fool throwing away his money.
But now, I realized that people did buy this product. And if they pranced around with the smell with the hopes of presenting themselves with mystery, and luring people to come closer to them, then they haven't wasted their money. It worked like it did (does) for Bacon Man.