Abercrombie & Fitch. That’s the smell that awakens me, the smell of that cheap cologne they put in the air vents in all of their stores. The smell of a kinky teen boy hustler. I look around the room—kind of dark but I can see a pile of clothes on the floor. Oh yeah, I wore those jeans.

I look to the other side of the bed and see him sleeping shirtless on his chest right next to me. Handsome, rust-colored hair, some wrinkles but a warm skin tone. Ridged shoulders and a few freckles, firm back. Taking deep breathes.

I get out of bed, wearing only my black 2(x)ist boxer briefs (don’t judge), and notice that my forearms and thighs are sore. I walk to the bedside table separating the two beds, and check the hotel brochure. The Embassy Suites.

Great.

I grab my jeans and hear the animal in bed wake up. He tosses the sheets and yawns. Toronto! I’m starting to remember. He’s staying in Chicago with a work friend for the weekend; they work at some mechanical engineering lab. “So you, like, build robots?” I asked him when I thought he would fall for my “dumb boy” flirting routine. He did not.

I notice that the other bed is fully made. Where is his friend?

Knock, knock!

“Can I get into the fucking room now?” the friend says in a low groan. I finish putting on my jeans and open the door.

His 5 foot 4 Indian coworker stares at me and shakes his head. Last time I had seen this guy was at Tryst in Wrigleyville right before my friends left, and I left with Canadian Stallion.

I let his friend in the room and step out to the suite living area. I turn on the posh lamp on the table and look around the room for my stuff. My black v-neck is thrown on the couch, my shoes on the floor by the door, my belt underneath the coffee table. I grab my shirt and right as I’m about to put it on, I feel Canadian Stallion’s cold arms going around my warm, bare torso.

Last night was supposed to be chill, just a few close friends grabbing a few drinks and catching a soccer game. I had only three drinks, but they hit me hard. I think it was more than just the Grand Marnier that compelled me to grab and squeeze Canadian Stallion’s tough denim-covered leg just shortly after I had met him standing next to me at the bar.

It was the Fierce pheromone overdose that got me intoxicated.

And now, with him pressing so close to me, I can smell it again. The Indian guy makes some snarky remark from inside the bedroom. He’s still angry that his friend locked him out in the suite he helped pay for because he wanted to hook-up with “some guy.”

So that’s my queue. I thank Canadian Stallion for having me over and hand him one of my business cards I got at work the week before. Since they didn’t have a title printed on them, he believed me when I told him that I was an intrepid, young reporter, not some intern who is always arriving late.

He kisses the card and gives me a wink. I blow him a kiss, turn around and go out the front door trying to remember which side the elevators are on. On the way down to the lobby, I ride the elevator with an attractive blond couple, former Mr. and Ms. Midwest, and their 7-year-old daughter. They seem startled when I dash into the elevator right as the doors begin to close. But I’m not the most patient guy, especially the morning after.

On the 4th floor I look at the girl and give her an innocent, earnest kind of silly smile. She looks at me, then looks at her mom. “He smells funny,” she whines.

“I smell Fierce,” I want to say. But I just hold it in.

We finally get down to the lobby and shortly after stepping out, I realize something’s not right. There are all these people walking and gathering around with the family from the elevator joining in. But it’s 8 a.m. on a Saturday. Who at the Embassy Suites is up this early? Then I realize that it’s a bunch of families, all traveling and staying together, laughing and conversing in the lobby before registration. A conference! But what?

A Bible Conference… that’s what.

I have to make my way through all of that before being able to escape safely. I put my hand on my chest and suddenly feel as if though my v-neck runs all the way down to my knees. My Catholic guilt creeps up my back and spreads to the rest of my body. I feel naked. I smell funny. I’m an animal.

But at least,I’m free. Free to smell like Abercrombie & Fitch.