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I floss daily, brush after every meal, and trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries.

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Monday, August 11, 2008


Other People's Perfume. I am not down with it.

The eloquent Miss Manners once remarked that "a gentleman's cologne should never occupy a room that the gentleman is not occupying." Gentlemen, please take note. Guys, too. And ladies and women everywhere, be assured that this guideline need not be gender specific.

I myself do not wear perfume. I bathe regularly and wear deodorant. (Though even my deodorant - Tom's of Maine - is so mild mannered that I need to apply it several times a day to feel confident giving hugs to anyone but my intimates.) But back when I wore perfume, I tried to use discretion in applying it. I was always a fan of the "light spritz then step through it" school of perfume application.

Lately it seems like I'm beset by people who wear way too much perfume (or cologne). Kindly relatives who hold my baby for five minutes and leave her reeking of their favorite scent until her next bath. Men who make elevator rides an exercise in breath control. Female acquaintances who, when gathered in groups of two or more, create a war of the perfumes, leaving me a nauseated civilian casualty. I've decided that - short of hard core alcoholics or addicts (who tend to exude a toxic odor) or people who rarely bathe - I would rather smell someone's B.O. than their cologne or perfume, and I'm not exaggerating. At least people don't leave their B.O. behind after a hug. I'm aware, however, that mine is a minority opinion. We live in a culture where smelling like a human being is very scary for most people. Cologne, perfume, body spray, smelly hair products, and industrial strength deodorants are all here to stay.

Last week, though, someone went too far. It's bad enough when people douse themselves with too much perfume, thus compromising the air quality in shared space or leaving their mark after a consensual hug. But last week some woman I don't even know enacted a sneaky ploy to make me smell like her perfume.

I ordered a cool handmade necklace from Etsy, thinking to wear it when my Old Man and I went out for dinner on our anniversary. The necklace arrived on the very day of the celebration, just in time. When I opened it, I was momentarily delighted. It was beautiful, just what I wanted. But then I sniffed a funny smell. Perfume. Strong perfume, coming from the necklace. This skilled artisan had made a lovely necklace, then fouled it with a big dose of her perfume. Or some perfume of her choosing. The necklace was too stinky to wear that night. I hung it up on the back porch to air out and went out bare necked.

I can't be too pissed at the necklace maker. I'm sure spraying the piece with perfume was intended as a nice gesture. But it seems like a stupid one. Even if I liked her perfume (not a safe bet), I still might be annoyed that it was competing with my own, right? Assuming I wore perfume? Which I don't.

Lord, please guard and keep me from O.P.P.


Blogger Lisa Blah Blah said...

You have touched on one of my pet peeves. My daughter's pediatrician was one of those heavy perfume wearers, and every time we returned from a visit to the doctor, Viva would reek of this very heavy, very expensive perfume until I bathed her. Just from a quick exam! I ended up switching to another ped. in the same practice because (a) it was giving me a headache, and (b) because I loved Viva's perfect baby smell and hated anything that competed with it.

Bummer about the necklace. Does it still smell?

11:13 AM  
Blogger Gnightgirl said...

I have a favorite scent, but try to be conscious about when, where, and how much I wear. It's most often an evening thing, and just enough for my man to smell when he gets close enough.

We were at the Farmer's market last week, and someone on the crowd had so much perfume on that it permeated several booths. I was dumbstruck, and didn't care who heard me comment that I could TASTE the stuff. It was terrible.

10:08 AM  
Blogger E. said...

Lisa, I know what you mean about the perfect baby smell. It's so lovely, and so delicate that perfume just obliterates it. The necklace is smell-free after a couple of nights in the outdoors.

Gnightgirl, I totally think that is the role perfume should play: only those you are intimate with should really notice it. I think that makes it much cooler. (Then again, I don't wear it. But if I did, that'd be my philosophy. And when I did, it was...)

7:51 PM  
Blogger Mike B said...

Wow. I just came across your blog and it has made my day. It's great to know there are people out there that have the same aversions to perfumes that I do. There really is nothing wrong with the scent of a clean human being. Seems that these days everybody, male and female, is compelled to marinate in products all simultaneously competing for the Nose.

I bathe regularly, and if I go out (rare) I apply a TINY amount of deodorant, but that's it. I don't even own any cologne or aftershave. I've begun cultivating a grand moustache, and I found a wax that has a very faint musk scent to it, which is nice since I hear most are overly scented. Since it's under my nose, it's good for blocking OPP.

Perhaps start wearing a waxed false moustache?

6:30 PM  

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