Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Perfume: Making folks sick for centuries

Seabass came home from school the other day reeking of perfume. Clearly he had story time with a teacher who passed it one to him (I've checked his credit card statements, and no purchases have been made for perfume).

This is a sensitive subject, so let me make this preamble - I'm not here to make friends; I'm here to record a journal. So if you are into wearing perfume, or cologne, or even a lot of baby powder, you might want to click away. Seriously; this will probably just piss you off - because I have zero good things to say about perfume.

Perfume is artificial B.O.. As the afternoon wore on, Bass man's stink got so bad we had to take off his shirt, and then a scrub down. I am not going to debate that a sizable portion of the populace find perfume in general or specific perfumes attractive - much like pre-modern people found B.O. attractive. For everybody else - it's physically repellent.

There are some square pegs out there putting their hands on their hips in protest "But we don't care about what some people don't like, we out to express ourselves." Fair enough sentiment, and far be it from me to characterize this as a proposed blockade or anything more than a complaint, but consider this. It's one thing to offend people's artistic, intellectual, or moral sensibilities. It's another thing to offend the back part of people's brain - to cause a reflexive, physical disgust.

For those perfume wearers who have discovered this article and are stewing in their own Chanel - I'll put it this way. You know that one person - an aunt, a grandmother, a great-aunt, etc... who used to wear that perfume that made you sick? That made a golf ball sized cyst of discomfort materialize right above the bridge of your nose? Well, there are a bunch of people out there who feel that way about your perfume. Add to that a good portion of society that feels that way about all perfume.

Compounding the issue is that chronic, regular perfume wearers inevitably put increasing amounts of their scent on. It's only natural - after time, as you increase your tolerance to the smell, a larger amount is required for the applicant to register "I know have applied the necessary amount of perfume". Soon, you begin to amass a quality that is overwhelming to an entire sensory category. That's a lot of power for one person to have.

The olfactory organs are highly sensitive and capable of strongly affecting people's entire mood and mental state. Perfume is like taking a baseball bat to those organs. It's disorienting and discomforting - perfume and its wearer are completely indistinguishable to the beholder. If you wear perfume, rest assured; there is a portion of society who finds your smell offensive and overwhelming.

There is a clause to my railing against applied scents. In western culture, there is a scent that is offensive to only the smallest of minorities. That scent is call SOAP.

1 comment:

Jess said...

I have to say thank you, you are an endless source of amusement for me!