An Olfactory Assault

The scent of a lilac bush gently wafting on the air as it tickles your nose hairs. The smell of the dawn, dew wrestling with the sleepy flower petals. The sun still at its nadir as gentle beams of light gently caress your face. I’m told that coffee first thing in the morning is a motivating aroma, a positive one. These are sensations that are pleasant and thought-provoking. Poems are created with these gentle nudges in mind. They do not assault; they caress and comfort.

And then there is the delivery person who has been marinating in a toxic substance that you can smell ninety seconds before he rounds the corner. The miasma he has inflicted on you lasts for 20 minutes after he leaves. The woman who believes that she must reapply her perfume every hour on the hour and now walks around with a haze surrounding her body. Plant leaves curl up in horror as she walks by.  She makes an excellent insect repellent as mosquitoes tend to fly desperately in the opposite direction to escape the onslaught. I’m not exaggerating . . . much.

Our world stinks.

Many years ago, I needed some new hand cream. I decided to go to a high-end store and get some good stuff. Boy, did I get an eye-opener. I had gone to a rather large shopping mall. I found the store I was looking for and I was 3 feet inside the store when a very bright and lovely young lady came and asked me if I would like some assistance. I told her what I was looking for and we moved further into the store. About 10 feet from the entrance my eyes started to water and I found it difficult to breathe. I immediately understood what was happening. I apologized and made a dash for the entrance, I had to get out! The further into the store I had gotten, all the scents of the individual products seemed to coalesce to form this nauseous, toxic haze in front of my nostrils. Individually they were probably lovely scents but all together it was like being hit with a sledgehammer.  I thought leaving the store would be enough. It was not. My sense of smell was heightened now and I could smell everything! I could smell food, body odour, clothing, cleansers they used on the floor. It was a sensory overload. I raced to get outside of the building and the fresh air. Ha ha ha! Outside I could smell the asphalt, gasoline, cars, smoke… You see my problem. Fortunately, within a few minutes the heightened sense of smell diminished somewhat and it was just the usual stinky world we live in. I have not been back to that store or that mall in years. I am now very careful what stores I walk into.

Everywhere you go you’ll see signs that say thank you for not wearing any perfume or we are a scent free building. I appreciate that. Most of my friends don’t wear perfume or if they do it is incredibly mild. I appreciate that. I also appreciate that we have indoor plumbing. There was a time when human waste was simply dumped in the gutter. Now we seem to allow human waste to go into politics. Oh, I’m so sorry I shouldn’t have said that out loud.

We don’t have to wear perfume to have aromas around us. Hand lotions, shampoo, make up, deodorant, dryer sheets, laundry soap… the list is endless. We stink. It’s as simple as that.  Some stink a little more pleasantly than others. There is so much scent in everything we see, do, touch, that we can’t get away from it. It’s almost as if we shouldn’t be asking “how are you feeling today?”  It might be more appropriate to ask: “how are you smelling today?” And that is my thought for the moment or perhaps it is my olfactory appetizer!

 

 

 

41 thoughts on “An Olfactory Assault

      1. Dan Antion

        We had “the perfume lady” in the building I worked in. You couldn’t ride her elevator for about an hour after she did. She and I got to the building at the same time. I could smell her in between the two sets of entry doors. She would offer to hold the elevator for me, but I took the stairs.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Murphy’s Law

    More than once I couldn’t get out of a store fast enough to get away from the suffocating “scents”. Back in the 1980’s I worked with a lovely older woman who smelled like she bathed and shampooed with perfume. I rode the elevator with her one day and thought I would suffocate from the overwhelming fragrance! I think her sense of smell had diminished over the years so she kept putting on more perfume throughout the day because SHE couldn’t smell it!

    I stopped using perfume/cologne from that day forward out of respect for those I came into contact with. Maybe I too used too much fragrance and didn’t realize it!

    I look for “fragrance free” products where available. You are absolutely right Pam, we have enough aromas in our world without overloading it with perfume.
    Ginger

    Liked by 1 person

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  2. dweezer19

    Well said Pam. I couldn’t agree more. Hubby and I double-step past those cosmetic counters at the mall if ever we have need to be inside a mall. When in my optician days we were forced to work in mall stores I was exhausted by the time I got home from the smells, the florescent lighting and the subliminal message that I needed to shop. Ugggghhh.
    I love your descriptives in the first two paragraphs. Pure poetry,

    Liked by 3 people

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  3. rangewriter

    Great!! I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a “We’re scent free” sign at an American establishment. There are some standalone stores downtown that assault the nostrils even as I stroll by. The Boise Philharmonic does have a small notice in their program, asking patrons to be mindful of others with perfumes and colognes.

    I do love my own perfume, and I always worry that I may spray too much. I feel a scent should be subtle, unnoticed until someone is close enough for a hug. And even then it should be subtle, not nose piercing. I love this line: “Plant leaves curl up in horror as she walks by.”

    Oh…and dryer sheets! I could go on and on about my neighbor’s copious use of dryer sheets, the scent of which escapes through the dryer vent and invades my backyard.

    Liked by 2 people

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      1. rangewriter

        Oh I also remember those inserts that used to be tucked into magazines. Can you imagine driving a mail jeep, in the heat of summer, with the windows all closed and locked with a tray full of those stinky magazines? One time I came back from delivering mail on a day like that and my supervisor met me at door of the office as I walked in. He sniffed me (of course I know I’m sweaty stinky) but he said he’d had a complaint that “the lady who delivered the mail had stinked it all up with her perfume.” We had a good laugh when I had him take a whiff of the now nearly empty tray of offensive magazines.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Anonymous

    I smelt your piece the instant it arrived! Beautifully written may I add…How different we sometimes are..my hooter sniffs the air for pleasant aromas, as it wrinkled in much distaste at the truly sickening odours emanating from the slaughter-house on the corner of our thatched village as a child. Luckily, Arthy, the baker, was a few hundred feet ahead, and the sweet smell of newly
    baked bread and rolls was like manna from heaven Likewise, when evacuated.to Wales, we were – when the wind blew in the wrong direction – (another slaughterhouse) in llne for a noseful of nausea. Blackberry picking was the antidote for that one. I sought out honeysuckle, creosote, vanilla and chocolate too, but the devil can take away all the ‘nasties.’ xx

    Liked by 1 person

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  5. John Hric

    I can relate. Much of the day my nose is blissfully unaware. Just don’t send me down the detergent aisle. It is one of the few things that trigger the brisk escape pace. On the other end of the spectrum there are very few daylilies with fragrance. The only time I notice one is the smell of fresh cut roots when I am moving them. Just send me into the kitchen when there is a pot of soup simmering…

    Liked by 1 person

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  6. CarolCooks2

    Body shop I couldn’t go near they had some lovely perfumes but as you say all together it is sensory overload…I no longer have or wear perfume(it)brings me up in rashes heat and perfume don’t mix…but freshly baked bread now that’s a smell I do like…:)

    Liked by 1 person

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  7. Garfield Hug

    In tropical hot and humid Lil Red Dot, I have to wear a perfume as I am always worried about how I smell. But sometimes, when I get into a lift or elevator, I can smell other perfume users who use overpowering scents.

    Liked by 1 person

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  8. bikerchick57

    Pam, I can completely relate to your olfactory overload. Perfume is the worst for me and, unfortunately, we had one supervisor at work that would come to meetings doused in her scent of choosing. It gagged me, as does most perfumes, so I do not wear them. I also had a grade school teacher who bathed in her perfume, and perhaps that’s what started my olfactory dislike. As someone who has gone to mostly natural cleaning and body products, I now cannot smell regular dish soap, laundry soap or body soap like Irish Spring without turning up my nose. They are not good smells to me. I would rather go into the local auto store and smell tire rubber.

    Yeah, we stink, but thank God for the outdoors, downwind from the paper mill. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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  9. Dale

    This is so true. Lady… if I can TASTE your perfume, ya got too much on! If your perfume suits you, you are NOT supposed to smell it after the initial spritz. Entering any store like The Bay, the perfume section is always at the entrance (probably because they have realised when shopping for jeans, peeps don’t want their nostrils assailed!
    I always know where there is a Subway sandwich store in a mall too… very distinct smell.
    Oh, to bring back the simple scents of nature that can recall fond memories rather than try to knock us out. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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  10. Widdershins

    Every-bloody-thing these days is scented! … even the ‘non-scented’ stuff is ‘lightly perfumed’, or worse ‘no added scent’, which just means the sneaky buggers have merely included their allotted and legal amounts of scent and not one jot or tittle more!
    One of our local thrift stores has lots of great stuff, but they sanitise it with something that smells like rancid faux watermelon! We have to let anything we but sit outside for days until the stench dissipates!

    Liked by 1 person

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  11. Linda Pearce Griffin

    This gave me a chuckle. It also brought to mind some unpleasant odors – the lady whose perfume made me change my seat right in the middle of a church service (or else I would have dropped dead); the friend who smoked in secret and tried to cover it up with perfume (the stench was horrendous – and how do you say nicely “you stink”? And the time I worked in a chemotherapy unit (no nurse there would have even considered wearing perfume) and we had a float nurse come into the unit wearing perfume and although I didn’t tell her that she stunk I did gently remind her that she could not wear perfume in our unit. She was beyond insulted and haughtily informed me that her perfume was very expensive AND subtle. Really? Then how come I can smell it. Our conversation did not end as gently as it had begun.
    Happy Scents only!

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. quiall Post author

      I am constantly amazed by people who think that whatever they like must be good and the cost is an important factor. Not! And not! I am surprisingly capable of making my own decisions. Thank you for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

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