Au de Stink




Blogger Neanderpundit had good advice for the ladies: change the perfume you wear so you don't kill the rest of us. He was being polite. I wasn't so polite, here is the comment I left:

When my younger son's girlfriend (and eventual wife) came to live under my roof, because she was Italian, I had to instruct her on the proper way to apply perfume: "Go into the bathroom so not to stink up the rest of the house; turn on the fan; spray for ½ a second into the air and quickly leave the bathroom, closing the door before any of the spray can fall on you; then wait 30 seconds; open the door, go inside and let the memory of the perfume envelope you for 10 seconds, turn off the fan; leave the bathroom. You're all set."

In this manner I told her, she won't smell like a Korean whorehouse.


In 1963 shortly before I turned 18 I worked for the Baker Castor Oil Company in the technical support group for Urethane research. This was before Urethane plastics became ubiquitous. My job was to test the plastics for flexibility, cure time, hardness and so on. Many times I added my own ingredients just to see what would happen. Once I added iodine to the mix and almost broke the Scott Tester which was used to pull apart plastics to determine their tensile strength. I got fired by my boss Artie Ehrlich (who died of a heart attack while still a young man) dozens of times for experimenting on my own. Eventually I did the experiments in my home to avoid getting him upset.

About once a week or so Artie would have me add various fragrances to the urethane mixes to see if the fragrance would carry into the finished, cured plastic. Then I would have to report to him what I smelled the next day, the next week, the next month and so on. Most of the fragrances were manufactured ones that we got from a company called International Flavors and Fragrances (clever name, eh?). Artie would call up and order say a banana smell (usually an amyl compound) or a tinny smell or musty odor and so on.

Interestingly, I was doing so many smell experiments that I noticed that I could detect pleasant odors better if I closed my right eye and unpleasant odors better if I closed my left eye. Some smells were so vague and fleeting I could smell them only if I tilted my head at a certain angle. Artie would yell at me when I used geometry to describe a smell. "What the hell do you mean that the smell is like the letter 'O'?" he would ask me. He just wanted to know if the odor of strawberry was still strong in the plastic after a month. Well, I told him, the first day it smelled sharp like a 'W' but now, 30 days later it has a round, smooth, soft fragrance like an 'O'. Artie, despite his name, never took to artistic descriptions of fragrances.

When I finally went to college it was easy to memorize the various perfumes girls were wearing then. White Shoulders, Chanel No 5, Estée Lauder (which if applied very, very lightly is an amazing fragrance). I would suggest to impressionable young ladies what perfume to wear based on their skin type and where to apply it for maximum effect depending on their height and the height of the boy they were trying to attract. Never, ever apply spray perfume directly to your skin unless you are trying to mask some hideous, personal body odor.

I should mention at this point that in 1970 during the spring semester I was romantically involved with about 88 young women. Some of it had to do with my unorthodox approaches to talking to them and the fact that I was a big man on campus by virtue of being the editor of a notorious weekly college newspaper. That's a post for another day.

Now to the point of all this: at age 61, I can still detect odors and fragrances for hundreds of chemicals. Calcium propionate properly heated smells like tuna fish puke, heated Clorox fumes pumped through ascetic acid will get you a smell that is 100 times more powerful than ammonia (I actually knocked out a friend by letting him take a whiff of this), and I can identify nitrogen dioxide with my eyes closed (of course anyone should be able to detect this gas with their eyes open). I love the smell of cyanides and Benzene. Xylol is too heady for me, but Benzene, god I love the sweet smell of that solvent!


I have found over the years that my eyes need glasses, my hearing no longer vibrates with high pitched tones and my sense of touch has dulled a slight bit. But my sense of smell has gotten better as I age. I have not studied the matter so I do not know if this is true for others. But if someone smokes a cigarette too quickly I can detect that odor on their person when they come near me. I find this out by asking. "You smoked your cigarette quickly, didn't you?" Usually they're amazed that smoking faster makes them smell different. Oh yes, it's horrible. When friends and relatives come over to my home to watch the Superbowl or the Oscars I ask them not to smoke an hour before they visit me so as not to make me sick with their stink.

Smokers do not realize that even if they don't smoke when visiting non-smokers, the horrid fog still sticks to their clothes and hair from previous smokefests.

As to perfume, I do not allow anyone, male or female to wear perfume to the office. It is offensive to my clients and worse, to me. I can tolerate it if a female is wearing it very, very lightly for a romantic venue, dinner or wedding. But the office has no place for perfume, unless the workplace is a Korean Whorehouse.

Disclaimer: Actual Korean Whorehouses, at least the ones I used to visit, do not have perfume smells. The phrase was used for poetic effect. So if you run a Korean Whorehouse that smells clean and perfume-free, please do not take offense.



### End of my article ###

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