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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
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Monday
Aug102009

ATTENTION: I HAVE SOMETHING OF VITAL IMPORTANCE TO COMMUNICATE

I do not understand perfume. I do not understand people who wear perfume.

If you are walking around right now enveloped in a cloud of manufactured scent, and I happen to smell you as I pass, I will think you might be a jerk.

I stress might. Look, I have relatives who wear way too much perfume (or cologne). Some of them I love. Some of them are jerks. Some of them are jerks whom I love. It's complicated.

I admit that I wouldn't be writing this if it weren't hot and humid out there. If I hadn't just been walking the dog, both of us staggering in the heat and humidity, gasping for air, only to twice get nosefuls of someone else's idea of a fantastical flower garden, or musky den of sexual transactions.

(I realize this comes shortly after I posted about how rarely I shower. ) (A habit which, I should mention, has changed since I started going to the gym so much.) (You really do have to shower when you've been Pushing it to the Max and the like.) (My point is, this is not an ongoing Campaign in Defense of Body Odors.)

I am not completely Anti-Scent. You want a scented lotion, you go right ahead. If you want to apply a scent to your pulse points such that you gift your smell only on those in your moist clutches, that's your prerogative. But when you are applying enough scent such that people not in your embrace are left smelling you after you've gone, that is wrong on so many levels.

I know someone who shrouds herself in her signature eau de toilette before going out, leaving everyone in her vicinity coughing and teary-eyed. "Oh, but it fades," she says. "That's why I have to put on so much." Ah. So. For an hour or two, you blind everyone in your vicinity. But at least after that you won't have to deal with the horror of faded scent. The shame! How could you stand it?

Not to mention, why would you douse yourself with odors right before going out? You realize that other people are making the same mistake, right? Did you know that the only thing worse than overly strong perfume is competing perfumes? Do you want your stink to overpower theirs, is that it? Is this some kind of domination thing?

Also, if you're reading this thinking, "I know! I hate those other people's scents –but MINE! Oh, mine is an exquisite commingling of basil and mint with notes of an animal-like rawness," you may be right. Most people might think you are an olfactory delight. But you're still probably grossing someone out.

In short, you may wear scent if you want, but please do not have a smell that other people have to smell whether they want to or not. That's just basic civility. I thank you.

Reader Comments (162)

Heavy scent bothers me the most at choir practice. It interferes with the very activity everyone came there to do! You'd think the offending choir members wouldn't need to be told this one, but directors have to make general announcements before concert performances to remind folks to arrive scent-free.

At my kid's school, they banned Axe products a few years ago. The middle school teachers started it. They have that much power!
August 25, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterberdie
Dude, I have to change cleaning products every month or so, as in, I will buy your flavor of hardwood cleaning product maybe ONCE, if I think that it smells good, then NEVER AGAIN. I have to mop the floor and LEAVE MY HOUSE. Febreeze makes me want to puke. Perfume is the devil. Especially in a small southern church filled with 75+ year old women wearing their signature scent,applied with a heavy hand, in the summer. My kid gets a bath afterward, and sometimes I still smell it. All this? And I am not currently pregnant. Also- to my mother in law- stinky candles do not mask the smell of dog, they combine with the smell of dog, and doggy business and just smell like cheap stinky candles and dog and dog pee. Thankyou and goodnight.
August 25, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKimberly C
I've always thought it really rude- like an invasion of space or privacy. I am often left sneezing or with a massive headache from just walking by someone who stinks. It's nasty. Please stop. For the love of god.
August 25, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterallapys
I don't really like or dislike Ashton Kutcher, but he did say in an interview once that he should only be able to smell your perfume if he's kissing you. Makes me think he's kinda smart.

(I love my perfume, yet I adhere to the kiss guideline.)
August 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBeth
People are immune to their own scent, that is why they apply more and more. If you feel the need to wear perfume, put some inside your nostrils then you'll be sure to smell it all day.
August 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHolly
I completely agree. I will give up my precious subway seat on my morning commute to avoid these overly perfumed people (ditto for people who snap gum -- something about that sound just drives me insane). There is a man who works in my building who, when I have the bad fortune to ride in the elevator with him, I can TASTE his cologne. Ugh ugh ugh.
August 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmber
I so agree with you. Most perfumes colognes etc are just a mix of chemicals. My nose used to be so sensitive that I could smell each of those chemicals and it was not pleasant. Here is the kicker, a year ago I lost my sense of smell to a neural illness, but those chemical concoctions, although I no longer have to suffer their odor, it STILL causes me to choke up, eyes run, nose run, cough and hack and CHOKE choke choke!!! I HATE people who walk around like that, they are nothing more than chemical polutants, regardless of what they SMELL like.
September 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBev
Amen!

I've always maintained that people who douse themselves with perfume are hiding something.
September 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTPS
I agree - and most perfumes/lotions give me a raging migraine. I once worked in a cubicle world where the woman on the opposite side of me would lather up with scented lotion sometimes and my head would hurt so bad from that point on I would try not to cry the rest of the day. But to speak up? you get treated like the weird-girl-who-gets-'headaches'-from-lotion and likely circling finger at head to describe you - it's easier to put up with a migraine (mostly).

I've seriously done the pull-shirt-up-around-nose thing to avoid the smell - people tend to stare, but it does work.
September 3, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterkim
I AGREE!!! Axe is horrifying.

I think my spite for perfumes and colognes started in school, where all of my teachers walked in fragrance fogs. I would hold my breath whenever they'd walk by - or worse! When they would lean in! I wasn't nervous or intimidated by them, I was holding my breath because I don't want their Windsong to stay on my mind!
September 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRaezin
To this day I still cannot tolerate Eternity perfume, because my friend's mom bathed in it daily, and drove us on the windiest mountain road in the world back to school one day, with my head hanging out of the window like a dog. The reek of that perfume to this day forces me to make cat sick noises. It's very bad.
October 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJemima

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