Thursday, April 06, 2006

Your perfume is to die for...

It’s heading into allergy season here, and enough nasal irritants have dripped into my personal allergy bucket to cause an overflow requiring wads of crumpled Kleenex, 24 hour allergy pills and cold medicine.

I have inadvertently attempted suicide by Lily pollen – and have since consigned the offending blossoms to the balcony, where I can view them through the mostly-glass door.

Ah. Relief. You’d think.

But no. While I can medicate myself through the effects of nature bursting into polleny bloom, there’s something I can’t control.

Men, especially young men, have apparently discovered cologne. Young men on the bus. Young men sitting directly behind me in restaurants. Young men who work for me. And they have not so much discovered fragrance as they have wallowed in bathtubs of it.

Women, who have been using perfume for years, mostly understand the guidelines: If you can smell it yourself, you’re wearing far too much. Men have not mastered this subtle guideline, and so, today, after fleeing the bus, nose dripping; after breakfast, where I turned around expecting that the stench wafting my way was emanating from a convention of working girls only to find the neighboring booth was occupied by three men; after several trips past my student assistant at the front desk that left me feeling like my throat was packed with razors wrapped in cotton gauze, I had to rant.

In my pre-allergy days, I used to think people who claimed to be scent-sensitive were just being precious. Just wanted attention. Princes and Princesses who couldn’t sleep with a pea at the bottom of a mattress pile, the wimpy whiner babies. Now I know people who could die of allergy-triggered asthma attacks because other people think just like I used to. And while I might not die – the headache I’m sporting now, along with a runny nose and congestion, is not exactly a day at Disneyworld.

I’m a smoker, as you may know. I don’t like the fact – but so far, I haven’t managed to break the addiction. It contributes to my sensitivities, I’m sure – but the allergies also exist on their own. As a smoker, I realize that cigarette smoke bothers people - non-smokers and especially ex-smokers. By law and by choice, I try not to smoke around others. If you visit my house, and it’s a long visit, then I might light up. If the weather doesn’t permit standing on the balcony, then I’ll open the balcony door and blow the smoke outside, away from where you’re sitting. In my own house.

Message to anyone out there who adores perfume and cologne: I understand. I used to love it, too. When I’m not in a hot allergy phase, I burn flower essential oils and use shampoos that smell good – and I love to do that. But I don’t burn oils on public transit, in restaurants or at work. Please consider that when you drench yourself in scent, it is as uncomfortable and obnoxious to me and nearly as dangerous to my health as I’d be to yours if I blew cigarette smoke up your nostrils. Thank you.