Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Scent of A Woman

At the risk of sounding a tad preoccupied and more-than-a-tad strange, I have been thinking quite a bit about smells lately. I have been paying more attention than usual to the smells that linger after people brush by, and it has left me wondering what my own scent is-- do I leave a tell-tale odor behind? Something that people can recognize instantly as my own? And pray tell, is it a good smell or a bad one??

Mostly I've been noticing how suffocated and allergic I feel to all varieties of synthetic perfumes, from Ex'cla.ma'tion fragrance ("Make a Statement Without Saying a Word" is right!! Yuck!) all the way up to Coco Chanel. I'm not sure if there's a common denominator ingredient in all perfumes that sets me off, but seriously-- I just can't handle them. Neither can Marty (thank goodness for that. We can be soulmates in our immuno-fragility.)

It never used to be like this. I started off trying to rip off my best friend's 'signature fragrance' (it was Ex'cla.ma'tion) in Grade 6 or 7 but then quickly progressed to a marginally more expensive drugstore perfume called "Longing". (It was classy with a 'k'.) There were the years (or maybe just months) when I wore CK One along with every single person in my Grade 8 class (so unisex!) and then I capped my illustrious perfume career off with Gap Dream... or maybe it was Gap Sun or something else like it. Something Gap. Something early 90s.

And then one day, within the span of a few hours it seems, I became allergic. I secretly blame the woman who sat in front of my sister and I at the movie theatre. We were watching Titanic. We were probably swooning at the time, though we would vehemently deny it years later. We possibly even denied seeing Titanic at all. At least in the theatre. 2 or 3 separate times. In any case, you didn't hear this from me.

The woman sitting in front of us at the theatre must have had a full-blown phobia of smelling badly. I infer this because as part of her coping mechanisms, she proceeded to douse herself (and I do mean douse) with a nasty lilac-ish smelling concoction at least every 20-30 minutes during the movie. Might I remind you that Titanic is nearly 3 hours long?? (At least from what I've read... couldn't tell you from personal or repeated experiences or anything...) By the end of the movie, the scent of synthetic flowers had been burned through our nostrils and stuffed like cotton into our skulls. We tried blowing our noses to get the lilac out. It didn't help. (By this time, the smell had crusted on to every one of our nostril hairs, and they weren't letting go.) We tried changing our clothes and washing our hair. This did help, but unfortunately, that essence of fake lilac has been chemically imprinted into my soul forever. In a very bad way.

Today, I'm OK with the scent of essential oils and if I had to go with an artificially scented anything (like if somebody was forcing me to buy a Glade Plug-In at gunpoint or something), I'm best off with smells like citrus, lavender, or vanilla. Everything else-- flowers, 'spicy undertones', mountainy springy breezes, rainshowers, etc. are no good for me. This makes it pretty difficult to shop for things ranging from dish detergents (I use Ecover) to shampoos (Aveda) to air fresheners (um, Nag Champa, if needed?), but I manage.

I still wonder, though, what kind of scent I leave lingering when I pass by people in the halls? Is it an unscented scent? A 'natural' scent (whatever that means)? Hopefully I smell like my DoBeClean soap or even my Tom's Of Maine deodorant and not anything displeasing or nasty. Or perhaps my non-scent scent makes the people wearing Coco Chanel feel suffocated and allergic. There's a thought.


Rose Fluxes said...

In case you're concerned that no one has left a comment for fear of telling you you smell. You don't. Well except clean. I think you always smell clean. Oh and your apartment smells better than ours, which always smells of something like cooked onions. Suggestions?

dana said...

Phew! Thanks for the reassurance, Rose... I can always count on you! ;)