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.
  • Queen of the Castle

    I have a confession to make. My friends were somewhat shocked when I revealed this to them, although I didn’t think it would be quite as big a deal as it eventually became: I have never eaten at White Castle in my life. I must admit, though, that I contemplate it every time I drive by the one near my house.
    I was driving around with Nat and Seamus a few weeks ago when I first shared this piece of information, and it sparked a debate that would have put Dick Cheney and John Edwards to shame. (John who? Edwards. He ran for Vice President a long time ago.)
    Seamus was gung ho on introducing me to something called “a slider,” when Nat intervened and warned me that they’re called sliders because they shoot right through your intestines in about six seconds flat. Since the memory of my last gastrointestinal crisis is still somewhat fresh in my mind, I decided against the 30 for $15 bag of burgers. Thirty burgers? I mean, I realize that they’re kind of small, but what the hell am I going to do with thirty hamburgers? I suppose after I eat one or two of them, I could just throw the rest at cars to see if they stick.
    Once I opted out of the slider, I found myself strangely intrigued by something called “Chicken Rings.” I really just got used to the concept of eating chicken fingers, so there’s something a little disturbing about imagining what part of the chicken the chicken ring comes from.
    Well, for now both the slider and chicken ring will continue to remain a mystery. But if White Castle comes out with something called “Fish Necks,” I may finally have to cave in.

    Overheard in the Elevator

    Woman 1: “Heh heh. Four more years!!”
    Woman 2: “…”
    Man 1: “…”
    Woman 3: “…”
    Woman 4: “…”
    Man 2: “…”
    Woman 5: “…”
    Woman 2: “Mmm. Hey – is The Apprentice on tonight or tomorrow?”
    Woman 4: “Tomorrow.”
    Woman 2: “Cool.”

    Cleanliness is Next to Godliness

    On Halloween night, I hung out at a local bar in Milwaukee with my friend Kim. It was pretty crowded with party-goers, so we had to grab a little table at the back of the bar by the bathrooms. As we tossed back a few drinks and admired all the creative costumes, I noticed that when some people came out of the bathroom, they walked over to a sink by the bar to wash their hands.

    I thought it seemed odd that people would come out of the bathroom to wash their hands, until I realized that they had no other choice. The bathrooms in the bar didn’t have sinks in them, so you had to go back into the bar area to actually wash your hands. Now, I’ve got to believe that there were some serious health code violations going on with that setup, but I used to frequent this bar, so I decided against turning them in.
    I did, however, become mildly obsessed with watching everyone come out of the bathrooms to see who actually washed their hands after using the bathroom. The only people I saw consistently wash their hands were the two bartenders, and I’m sure that’s because their boss – thankfully – makes them do that before they squeeze limes into customers’ drinks.
    Kim could see that I was distracted, so I told her about my startling observation. She didn’t seem overly concerned, so I leaned over the table and shouted over the music, “There have been studies done that show that something like only 40% of men wash their hands after they go to the bathroom! How disgusting is that!?”
    Kim took a swig of her microbrew beer, smirked, and said, “40%? Really? And exactly what ‘studies’ are you referring to? Sounds really scientific…”
    I told her that I didn’t remember where I heard that, but I knew I had heard it somewhere, and it might have been a Dateline NBC exposé where Stone Phillips put a hidden camera in the men’s room to watch people and then ambushed them as they walked out without washing their hands. Or something like that.
    Kim still seemed dismissive, so I suggested doing a study of our own to prove my point. She scoffed at first, but then her competitive nature kicked in and she agreed to do it.
    “But if you’re wrong, you have to buy the next round.”
    “I already paid for the first one because you said you didn’t have any cash, but whatever. You’re on, Kim!”
    Since I have a bit of marketing research in my background, I know the importance of conducting an unbiased study, so I quickly called my unbiased former co-worker who used to work in research. She rushed over to the bar to help me conduct an ad hoc research project.
    After some brief discussion, my friend, the unbiased researcher, set up shop at our table, where she could observe the comings and goings of the men’s room without interruption. By the end of the evening, the findings she presented to us on a cocktail napkin were nothing less than astounding.

    If anyone under the age of 18 is reading this right now, I’d like you to first have a parent or guardian send me an email giving me their consent before you continue. I promise you, this is not for the weak-stomached.
    Unbiased Study of Men’s Post-Bathroom Hand Washing Practices

    By: Unbiased Independent Research Firm

    A random sample of men was observed entering and exiting the men’s restroom at [local bar]. Upon exiting the restroom, the researcher noted whether or not the men washed their hands before returning to the bar.
    Sample Size:

  • Male
  • Regular bathroom users
  • Residents or visitors of Milwaukee
  • Drinkers
  • Estimated ages: 46, 37, 35, 30, and 25
  • Estimated income: between $35,000 – $150,000
    Major Assumptions:

  • All subjects, upon entering the bathroom, performed some type of bodily function.
  • There is not a sink located inside the men’s bathroom (I tried to make Kim confirm this, but she would only tell me if there was one in the women’s bathroom, which there wasn’t).
  • Jenny’s prospective dating pool age range is between 30-42.
    Significant Findings:

  • 100% of men over 45 (N=1) wash their hands after using the bathroom.
  • 100% of men under 26 (N=1) wash their hands after using the bathroom.
  • 100% of bartenders wash their hands after using the bathroom.
  • 100% of men in Jenny’s eligible dating pool (N=3) do not wash their hands after using the bathroom.
  • Only 40% of all men wash their hands after using the bathroom.
    Unbiased Recommendations:

  • Never touch, nor allow yourself to be touched by men between the ages of 26-45 without first witnessing them wash their hands.
  • Never allow men between the ages of 26-45 to cook for you, as you will be certain to ingest significant quantities of E. Coli.
  • Exclusively date men under the age of 26 or over the age of 45.
  • Date a bartender.
    I know these results are going to send shockwaves through the entire Internet, but I thought it was important that I share these findings with the public. I am hoping to draw attention to this issue that affects so many of us. More importantly, if I can shame even one 26-44 year old male into washing his hands after peeing, then it will have all been worth it. Seriously guys, you’re grossing us all out. And we’re always watching.
    Now go out and vote!
  • Daylight Savings & Loan

    Did you remember to save some daylight yesterday? I did. I saved 60 whole minutes of it, just like I do every year. But this time, I promised myself that I wouldn’t take this extra hour for granted. I would make the most out of every minute. So this year, I kept track of everything I did during my extra hour so that I could share it with the people closest to me:

  • 1 minute: Thought about how excited I will be when, after Tuesday, I won’t have to hear the phrases “undecided voter” or “swing state” anymore. Unless, of course, those undecided voters finally make up their minds and cause their states to swing, in which case we’ll never hear the end of it.
  • 15 seconds: Put the last ghost shaped marshmallow Peep in the microwave to see how big it would get. It got really big.
  • 2 minutes 45 seconds: Cleaned up melted ghost shaped marshmallow Peep in the microwave. It got really melted.
  • 2 minutes: Ate three mini-boxes of grape flavored Nerds that I intended to give to trick-or-treaters. Later remembered that when I bought all this candy, I knew full well that I don’t get any trick-or-treaters in my apartment building.
  • 7 minutes: Cleaned litter box. It had to be done.
  • 2 minutes: Washed my hands. People, I just touched cat litter.
  • 4 minutes: Recalled the best costumes I saw on Halloween: man dressed as robot, woman dressed as bloody prom queen Carrie, man dressed as homeland security terror level advisory.
  • 6 minutes: Ate some cheese.
  • 17 minutes: Watched part of one episode of Strangers With Candy, Season Three.
  • 3 minutes: Wished Amy Sedaris was my best friend. Because she would make me laugh. All the time.
  • 5 minutes: Tried, unsuccessfully, to get into my laundry room.
  • 3 minutes: Contemplated going to the laundromat, but then decided to just spray Febreeze on my clothes instead.
  • 7 minutes: Ate rest of cheese while I emailed Amy Sedaris.
    Looking over this list, I can’t help but feel intensely proud and somewhat amazed at what can be accomplished in just one hour. What could I achieve if I were allowed to save more than one hour a year? I wish we could borrow a few hours every now and then to get things like this done. Then, I could pay them back later in the year when I don’t need them – like when I’m sleeping, or stuck in traffic.
    Well, that settles it. I’m going to cast my vote on Tuesday for the candidate I feel is most likely to be in favor of establishing federally funded Daylight Savings & Loans all across America, so that we can once again reclaim our status as the most productive country in the universe.