Friday, August 19, 2005

Enough Already!

perfume Once again, I got off the train this morning trying to see through watering eyes. It's bad enough living and working in a big city where it seems more than half the people are drenching themselves in the foulest scents imagineable under the delusion that it makes them somehow more appealing. What's worse is that these are always the people with whom you find yourself trapped in close quarters, unable to escape or even gulp a lungful of untainted air. Elevators, waiting lines, restaurants (nothing more appetizing when you are about to take a bite of lunch than a good whiff of "Opium" or "Incest" or whatever the fuck they are calling their alcohol-soaked oils of dead glands these days)---all of them become mantraps, holding you at the mercy of these damned olfactory-challenged fools.

But nothing is worse than having one of them sit next to you for a half an hour on the train, where you are unable to even stand up and go to the bar or restroom. You sit there, gasping like a dying fish, assailed by fumes that any normal human being would only endure after donning a hazmat suit, and what can you say? "Please move elsewhere"? Even if there was somewhere else to move to, once the air has been contaminated, it doesn't matter where you are in the car...there it is. This morning a woman got on who sat fully 3 rows ahead of me, yet from the way my trachea closed up and my nasal passages constricted once her vile potions reached my respiratory system, she may as well have poured a liter of the stuff down my throat. And this is not an occasional thing. Everyday I wonder whether the person sitting near me will be slathered up for an evening out at 7:00 in the freaking morning, and how long the effects will linger.

And it's not just a female phenomenon. Men are increasingly dousing themselves in rotgut that promises to turn women into leopardesses in heat, perfumes with matching deodorants with ridiculous names like "Arctic Force", "Ionic", and "Tsunami" (bet they love that one in Aceh). One handshake and I'm stuck back in 1968, smelling like my 15 year old stepbrother at his first dance.

I once thought employee dress codes prohibiting the wearing of scents were facsist, but that was before I began having these chemically-sensitive moments I used to associate with whiny little canary-in-a-coalmine types. It's not that I hate perfume. I hate the way it's used, indiscriminately, with no sense of appropriate place, time or amount. I hate trying to eat and being assailed with odors so completely out of place that they ruin my ability to taste the food. I hate trying to work and getting headaches from the huge clouds of noxious fumes that waft from my coworkers into my office, where ventilation is only an urban legend. And I hate being unable to sit on the train and read because I can't see through the tears brought on by the irritants in the emblaming fluid worn by my fellow commuter. Whether I've just become sensitive from a daily onslaught of chemicals, or whether people have become so desperate to avoid smelling human that they've grown increasingly immune to the amount of scent they use, the effect is just the same. Please, people, I'm begging here...just stop the madness. Use a good soap and a nice Thai crystal, and if you really want women to fall all over you, let your pheromones have a fighting chance.

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