Perfume and People

Smells have strong effects on us. It is said that dogs can smell fear; I believe it. I seem to be able to smell unmasked perfidy, or at least sense it with my Jacobson's organ. I think it no coincidence that most successful high-pressure sales people use a strong perfume or cologne. Without that mask, most couldn't ply their trade. Artificial scent and dark eyeglasses have much in common. Since we're not aware of odors sensed with our Jacobson's organs, its harder to know when they have been masked. Still, strong odors probably do interfere with the way we perceive them.

I like the smell of Woman. It doesn't excite me to frenzy, or diminish my ability to be civil, but I enjoy it. Sure, it often turns me on, but I can deal with that when I need to (which is most of the time), and I enjoy it even then. I can also see why some women might want to mask that smell. Apparently, many do. They appear in public smelling like orange peel, lilac bushes, stuff I can't place, and even that quintessential male-animal sex odor, musk. On second thought, maybe not so many do. Some apply the mask in the misguided belief that it makes them attractive. What a pity! It takes pretty low self esteem to believe that one becomes more attractive by smelling like an orange peel or a lilac bush rather than like one's self.

Some women go too far in trying to keep me at arm's length with perfume. Most perfumes make my eyes tear and go bloodshot if the scent is strong enough. I once asked to get a subscription theater seat changed because of a woman in the next row, a few seats over. Fortunately, that time I was one of many, so the management banished the offender instead. Some people are actually proud to leave a trail of odor behind them when they move around, as if they were Diesel buses in need of tune-ups. I would rather be stuck in an elevator with half a dozen cigar smokers than with one over-perfumed Grande Dame.

There's another use for applied scents. Almost any smell is better than no smell at all. I once met a burn victim who had smooth skin on his face, but no visible ears, two holes where a nose should be, and a mouth without lips. It was hard to look at him without flinching; I can't articulate why. People who use lots of anti-odor preparations strike me in a similar, if subdued, way. For them, applying a scent is like painting on a face, even if a goofy one.

The cosmetic industry wants us to believe that human scent is offensive to humans. What nonsense! There would be no humans if that were true! There's an ad that states explicitly that sex after a hard game of tennis is acceptable only if there is no residual odor of sweat. Those who have been around a while and given life a chance know that good hard sweaty sex is a time of joy; a melange of odor, taste, and touch, almost an art form.

Copyright 2000 - 2004 by Jerry Avins

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