Tuesday, July 23, 2013

My Sensitive Sniffer

       Many years ago, when I was in college, I used to sit behind a girl who wore a perfume with the faint odor of coconut and chocolate. It was like being surrounded by Mounds bars. I never asked her what the name of the scent was, but I have never encountered it since.
     What I have encountered are women who were clearly never told how to properly apply perfume.  These poor souls have apparently lost all of their olfactory abilities because they slather on enough perfume to choke a normal person. You can smell them coming from at least ten feet away, and their scent lingers long after they are gone.  What was for my college friend a pleasant suggestion of an aroma becomes a nasal assault for these women. 
     And it appears that they are overusing their perfumes on purpose because most of them also put on so much make-up, the color of their eyeshadow could be seen from the cheap seats of a theatrical production. I say it seems they are doing it on purpose because I imagine that no one has ever had a private and frank discussion with them about the fact that in their efforts to smell good, they end up smelling very, very bad.
    Sensitivity to bad smells is something I have lived with for many years.  My wife doesn't believe it, but I simply cannot clean up dog vomit or kid vomit without throwing up myself. The smell overcomes me, I begin to gag, and then I have to walk away lest I add to the mess.
     Ironically, (or is it?), I grew up in an environment where everybody smoked cigarettes.  There were overflowing ashtrays all over the house and the car.  And yet I never noticed it until I moved out of the house to go to college.  On my first trip home, I wondered where the haze that hung over the house came from.
    These days, when I meet someone for the first time, I can immediately tell whether they're a smoker.  How? They exude a foul odor.  Much like the overperfumed ladies, I have to wonder if these smokers realize just how bad they smell to the rest of us.  Maybe they do realize it and just don't care.  
     I don't believe that smokers practice poor hygiene per se. I'm reasonably sure that they shower and wash as much as I do. But when burnt plant material oozes from your pores, the only solution is to stop inhaling that burnt plant material. For the rest of us, the solution would seem to be holding our breath and gritting our teeth until the odiferous offender is out of range.