Aromas, scents and smells invoke emotions, memories and passion amongst most people. Fragrances and perfumes ignite the aphrodisiac within us and the right scent on the right body will often send us crazy with lust-driven passion. It’s the ultimate turn on. While odours, stenches and stinks usually make us want to run away in case we throw up.
Most get it right, yet there are so many that get it so very wrong. You can go from stomach-churning body odour to headache-inducing fragrance drenching often within the same family. The secret is to find the perfect balance. But smell is a highly taboo topic for people. You don’t want to offend a person by telling them they stink to the high heavens but you don’t want be shafted with having to tolerate the stench emanating from them for much longer.
Case in point when a work colleague had a chronic trail of BO whenever she worked. It started off highly nauseating and ended being highly toxic. No one could work with the poor girl. It was like being shoved under the hairy, sweaty armpit of a hairy Arab man at a kebab house on Sydney Rd. And all the while, no one was quite sure whether she knew of her malodorous problem or how to handle the situation in advising her. We’d thought of suggestive product placement within the staffroom, subtle comments to each other about a smell to getting the manager to have a quiet word to her. Eventually the manager did speak to her, and it turned out she couldn’t wear deodorants due to their aluminum content. So we had to grin and bear it until she eventually left.
And if it was difficult with work colleagues, it is even harder when dealing with a friend. On a night out recently, I was privy to the malodorous smells from a friend of whom I have learnt to stay at least 10 feet away from unless nasally safe. He had a repellant scent of BO which emanated from every available pore and I can tell you that it was not good. And with the accompanying flatulence that he squeezed out at regular interviews, I can tell you now that I was very close from throwing up. The rest of us could not handle it and yet, we avoided saying anything to the poor guy.
But from the lack of deodorants and perfumes, people can very easily go to the other end of the spectrum and douse themselves in a fragrance when they think they smell like roses. Old wogs have a special knack in this skill and all too often go over the top. I was reminded of this at the recent premiere of Anita, which coincidently has become known as “Open Fly Night”.
Seated in front of us was an Italian woman no older than 60 who had primed, preened, washed, plucked, blow-dried, waxed and buffed herself for the premiere. After all, it was a ‘special occasion’ and she just had to look her best. But she clearly overdosed on the perfume she used, which was a classic fragrance you find at Forges of Footscray, synonymous with wogs.
It was as though she bathed in it. It wafted around her like a dust storm and made us behind her very, very ill so much so that I, along with the others, ended up with severe headaches from it. So for two and a half hours we sat through Garibaldi and his pash rash epidemic and La Signora in front of us with her “Scent of a Woman”.
So how do you tackle these issues? Do you tell them straight out that they stink like dirty ass or do you grin and bare it? Do you drop subtle hints or do you talk to them carefully and strategically? As a taboo topic, it’s a tricky one and, like eggs, should be handled with care.
See that hairy, sweaty Arab over there at the green grocers? Go on… take a whiff. I dare you.