My cat smells and so should you

Grumpy Cat: it's not him, it's you.

Grumpy Cat: it’s not him, it’s you.

Every day, I hear people saying that they don’t like to wear perfume but in truth, we have never been more subjected to fragrance than we are today, nor had so little choice about it. From toilet cleaners to bug sprays, our lives are infested with unlikely odors.

Hmmm… now I think about it, it might be fun to to have a set of differently fragrant shampoos, toilet fresheners and such: “Sweetie, I’m a bit blue today. Do you  think you could  freshen the crapper commode with a nice spritz of Peaceful Lavender rather than the Lemon Zinger?”

Sigh. A girl can dream.

Likewise, pharmaceutical companies want you to believe that the minty taste of your toothpaste and mouthwash has some medicinal property, but only the brushing and antibacterial agents really play a role. The minty fresh fragrance is there merely (well, it isn’t trivial) to make the experience pleasant for you and those around you (and don’t get me started on the use of triclosan, the stuff in hand sanitzer, toothpastes and children’s bloodstreams). If you don’t believe me, I can send you the bottle of post-surgery mouthwash prescribed by my dentist. Foul, chemical tasting and utterly effective, certainly; minty, pleasant and sure to give you that ‘kissable’ fresh breath, no way. Or at least, I didn’t get any takers.

What I am trying to say is that people associate scent and cleanliness as they never used to. I suspect that one of the culprits is general prissiness and an unwillingness to understand the difference between hygiene (the thing that prevents the transmission of harmful germs) and grossness (aka the yuck, or ewwww,  factor).

For example, a couple of years ago, a French woman told me that she was horrified when her sister-in-law prepared food while wearing a tank top because she doesn’t shave under her arms. Well, I can see that is not a pretty picture but it does seem unlikely that pit cooties (that is their technical name) could, even if they were harmful, jump out and squat on the food. I’m not saying it is impossible, just that I have trouble imagining that particular event.  But there it is, the yuck factor at work. The fact is that however gross and disgusting a woman may be if she does not shave in all the appropriate places, it is an esthetic choice, not a sanitary one.

Similarly, at our climbing gym, some of the women got together and demanded that notices be posted asking people to remove their climbing shoes before using the restrooms. Apparently, these women were repulsed by the  idea that they had to place their hands on climbing holds touched by bathroom-floor-soiled climbing slippers.

I was a bit surprised because a more logical solution would be to ask clients to refrain from wearing street shoes on the mats and climbing shoes off them. My best guess would be that gym clients rarely poop on the impeccably cleaned and sanitized restroom floors, but dogs definitely poop on sidewalks and that gets tracked everywhere on street shoes (including on the foam flooring mats of the gym). I talked to the desk manager about it and it became clear that the whole discussion was moot because 1) the holds on climbing walls are encrusted with a disgusting, occasionally moist, amalgam of sweat, chalk and climbing shoe rubber and no one in their right mind would put their hands near their faces after touching them. Hand washing after a climbing session is the best use of soap that I have seen in my adult life, and 2) the client’s concern was about yuckiness, not hygiene.

My point here, and I do have one though I may have wandered just a tad off the straight and narrow, is that we are surrounded by mediocre pongs. Pongs that do not fulfill our noses in the same way that a Twinkie (and I am not dissing the Twinkie per se, so calm down), does not give you a good, full belly feeling.

The good news is that there are so many wonderful fragrances out there still. Fragrances that are bewitching, sensual, fresh and flowery, dark and sinful, fragrances that will enhance your good days and console the bad ones. And if you are really into ‘loud airport toilet florals’ (dixit Luca Turin), go with Gardenia by Chanel. A tad pricey but the bottle is much prettier than Glade.

Today’s illustration is not our cat because I couldn’t find him to take a picture. He does smell though. I call him Fish-Breath but it’s a bit of a mystery because he isn’t allowed fishy food. The picture is actually my new key ring, Grumpy Cat, a gift from a dear friend. This is the second time friends have given me a nickname that involves the word ‘grumpy’ but I know it is a just a coincidence. They are such teases.







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