Scent of a Woman

Yesterday on my way home from the train station, I was walking to my car and thinking about whether or not I had any peanut butter left at home, when I was suddenly overcome by an excruciating headache. Of course, my immediate thought was that an aneurysm had burst, but then I looked up and saw a woman in front of me, and realized that it was her perfume. I had been walking downwind of her for about five minutes before it registered in my brain that it smelled like I had just taken a baseball bat to the perfume counter at Nordstrom’s.
How much perfume must you be wearing for it to leave an almost visible trail behind you on a windy fall day? A lot. I’d say at least three or four sprays worth. I had to speed up to a near power-walk stride in order to pass her before my olfactory glands exploded.
To be honest, I really don’t like perfume. Except on me, because it smells really nice when I wear it. This is because, much like a chemist, I understand the delicate balance that is in play when applying a foreign scent to one’s body. And even more importantly, I respect the rules of etiquette when it comes to wearing perfume. For the uninitiated, here are the general guidelines:

  • Work: Plain and simple – avoid it. Unless you’re trying to seduce the boss, in which case, go get ‘em, Tiger!
  • Bars: Use generously since the smoke and stale beer scent will counteract any excessive perfume application.
  • Church: Avoid it. Okay, I’m not really speaking from a position of authority here since I don’t go to church, but I don’t think god cares if you smell like cinnamon. Or does he?
  • Horseback riding: Apply liberally. To the horse.
  • Grocery store: Oh that’s just sad. You put on perfume just to go buy toilet paper and frozen pizzas? Truly sad.
  • Airplanes: Under penalty of death, do not ever, ever wear perfume on an airplane. I mean it.
    While we’re on the topic of airplanes, do they still have cologne in the bathrooms on airplanes? I always thought that was about the worst possible idea anyone ever came up with. Let’s see: enclosed metal tube, hundreds of people sitting inches apart, stale recycled air, tendency toward vomiting… by Jove I think I’ve got it! What this plane needs more than anything is for everyone to smell exactly alike! And by exactly alike, I mean like a drunken French hooker.
    “Hey, you smell pungent! What’s that you’re wearing?”
    “You like it? It’s called Eau de PanAm.”
    “Mmmm. It’s both sour and musky!”
    Personally, I think the only kind of perfume most people should be allowed to wear would be that kind that’s made of human pheromones. You can’t smell it, but people feel sexy when they wear it. I can see the ad campaign now: Je Ne Sais Quoi for Men, by Calvin Klein. Undetectable, yet irresistible.
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