Friday, June 29, 2007

Who Put the PU in My Supper?

I'm at a restaurant yesterday, taking my mother out for some lunch, and just as we are seated at a table, a nearby woman uncaps her lotion bottle and begins lathering the pungent cream all over her hands.

She is a mere few feet away and the sickly sweet smell quickly roils over to invade my rather sensitive nostrils. I try to ignore it. It doesn't work. The woman spreads even more noxious slime across her raspy knuckles and the fumes waft over me in waves of excruciating reek. I literally begin to gag.

Now, I am pretty sensitive to strong odors. Specifically floral and other "sweet" smells. Not everyone is, I understand this. But, more than a few are. I am seconds away from reversing the natural digestion of my earlier breakfast. My plan is to aim it Lotion Lady's way.

Instead, I grab my menu and previously delivered beverage, and move to a booth a few dozen feet away. I gasp for fresh air, as my mother explains to the waitress why we moved. Lotion Lady and her husband are looking our way ... laughing.

Other than the laughing, this is an all too common scenario for me as I go out in public places. Mostly it occurs in restaurants, but even trips to the grocery store, mall, or Wal-Mart assault my senses with women laden in lotions, poured in perfume, or clouded with cologne.

Typically, it is one of three demographics who are walking miasma clouds; teenage girls, "desperate" housewives, or old women.

I think the teenagers bathe in the perfume to cover up the un-washed smell of themselves. Teen boys also do this with colognes, but it is far, far less noticeable to me. In the hot Florida weather everyone sweats, and no girl wants to smell like dirty socks. So they pour perfume on themselves to mask the stench. This only makes them reek in a different way.

Yuppie women, the desperate housewives, also seem to delight in making themselves into walking perfume counters. My theory on this is that the yuppie penchant for having aromatic candles burning in their houses, scented bath products, and designer perfumes, their sense of smell has been so overwhelmed that, instead of a moderate amount of scent, these nasal terrorists require massive quantities to be able to smell it.

Old women are in a simimalr position. Your sense of smell fades as you age (one of the reasons food seems to get blander, and spicy food tastes better, even if your heartburn tells you not to eat it). Therefore the older women use more product to be bale to smell it. This explains why scents popular with older women seem to come in huge bottles. They need the quantities it hold so they can get enough to smell it themselves.

Several years ago, I had severe respiratory problems. I'd miss weeks of work at time fighting off lung infections, double pneumonia, and excruciating asthma attacks. Just as the doctors would clear me safe to go back to work, I'd come down with another go-round of problems.

One doctor asked where I worked. I figured he wanted to make sure it wasn't with harmful chemicals or other toxic fumes. I described my open air phone center, with it's rows upon rows of low-walled cubicles. He nodded and asked me if there were many women who worked there. Around 80% were women, I answered. He asked how many did I see using lotions, spritzing perfumes, spraying desks with sanitizers, hair spraying their coiffures.

I paused ... most of them.

And that was my problem. I was breathing in all this chemical garbage for 9 hours a day. It aggravated my weakened lungs and immune system, setting off a chain reaction of bronchial inflammation, mass mucus generation, and other nasty reactions in my chest and throat. It also pushed my allergies to the limit.

Government has banned smoking in most public places, and I applaud that. But I sure wish some restrictions on the use of perfumes, lotions, and other scented products would be imposed.

How do you feel about strong scents in public places? Does it bother you? Do you get sick from them? Do you contribute to it with your own barrage of aromatic concoctions?

Blogger has a new Polling feature I have taken advantage of. Please take a moment to answer the poll to the right, in the sidebar. It's near the top, so you may have to scroll up.

Answers are anonymous, and no personal data is gathered by clicking on it (maybe your IP, though). I dunno if any cookies get transmitted.

The poll will up for a week, after which I'll revisit the numbers in a future blog post.

Until then, you got a spare clothespin on you?


Anonymous said...

I think banning things is taken to a whole new level here....

I understand that people are sensetive to scents and such but come banning someones personal right to lotion....that is like banning someones personal right to walk outside. I don't have to like when I get on and off an elevator and end up smelling like the other occupant for the next 10 min but I don't think I need to ban their rights to personal expression in return. Even if it is in a stinky smell...choose to get off the elevator or move to a new seat. (as you did I see)

beartracks said...

I am like you Rav. I do not tolerate strong odors. I heard that in New Jersey you cannot get on a elevator wearing perfume.

Likewise, my wife and I do not frequent establishments which have either and or use latex products such as gloves and balloons. We are both allergic to latex. Latex is classified as a hazardous material, a strong sensitizer, so why is it allowed in food handling establishments. I am trying to educate the policy makers. I spoke up at our state food policy council meeting but it fell on deaf ears.

Several years ago I was out with two lady friends one of which bathed herself in cologne, just when the aroma was getting bearable she excused herself went to the lady's room and took another bath in the stuff. I can tolerate light fragrances.

\o/ Praizes

Doug E. Pudge said...

Well Raivynn, I am very understanding of your sensativity here! There are some amromas that I am highly sensative to smelling. The main one is cinnamon. I am alergic to it and even the smell of it can plug me up and make my eyes water. Unfortunately though, how do you regulate what odors are "strong" and what is normal? Unfortunately each persons own sense of what is strong and what is normal is different. If there were a way to make this quantitative and not subjective I would support it 100%. A little is nice, a lot is nauseating. B4T

Raivynn said...

Other than this brief comment, I will not be writing more on this subject until after the poll closes on July 4th. At that point, or the day after, I will do up a post regarding comments and list the final results. Thanks for your comments, all. Keep 'em coming!

beartracks said...

Raivynn, here is another for your pirate portfolio.

Doug E. Pudge said...

Tag You're it! Go to: