You're Getting Your Perfume All Over My Life

There are these two girls who I dread seeing out. Because I know they’ll hug me hello and then I’ll be drenched in whatever variation of Patchouli it is that they wear. And that stuff lingers. To the point that I’ve ducked out of dinners early because I had to shower and change clothes and then ventured back out again. On a few occasions, I’ve stopped the incoming hug by blurting out  that I had a cold, but you can only have a cold so many times before people start talking. “I think Jill has an immunity disorder or is covering up a cocaine problem.”  I’m weighing my options. I might be willing to risk either rumor.

There’s another girl who wears the same family of scent and I run into her quite a bit, too.  She, however, is pretty standoffish. And I’m grateful for her attitude. It’d be incredibly helpful if everyone who worshiped at the Patchouli Family alter was a bitch.  Sadly, they’re often very kind. Actually, it’s not even always a Patchouli-specific thing for me. Although, that’s certainly the most difficult scent for me to stomach. Does this make me a horrible person? I’m also allergic to cats. I know. All signs pointing to me being a terrible lesbian. They’re going to take away my membership. I do wish I was less sensitive to O.P.P. But, Other People’s Perfume can be unbelievably excessive and poorly timed.

I’m hardly the first person to complain about sitting next to someone on a plane or train who doused themselves pre-travel in preparation for wooing a stranger in a confined space. Even though what they usually end up doing is just making that confined space smell like someone has ripped open one hundred magazine perfume samplers and rubbed them all over the walls of the plane or train. Same goes for people who workout and hike wearing so much perfume that they must think it helps combat dehydration.

There are, by the way, certainly occasional occasions when I think someone smells really really good. And that makes me so happy. Because I spend most of my time feeling like a judge-y scent witch. Ironically, I probably smell terrible and no one is telling me. What if my body naturally secretes a smell that is the perfect combination of Patchouli and cats? It’d serve me right. The scents that I like are really clean and not heavy or sweet or oily. This is the worst online dating profile ever. Perhaps this column is a cry for help because I feel like “The Others” from the show Lost, but there’s just one of me which is so much worse because at least “The Others” from Lost had each other. At least I don’t kill people and live in the woods. Yet.

Maybe I wish that I could enthusiastically soak up all smells all the time.  Maybe my end goal is to open a perfumery called ‘All Smells All The Time.’ Maybe I could attend some sort of 12 step program? It would likely just be 1 step and that step would be a bunch of people rolling their eyes and saying “Get over it, idiot.” to me If I do get cured, I hope it covers incense, too.

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  • Anonymous

    I agree on so many levels, luckily I don’t get the hugs and residual scent. I think, whether man or woman, a fragrance should be subtle not miasmic. An occasion for after-thought, an olfactory wink in hindsight. Thanks Jill, for the article!

    • Jill Kushner

      Yay! I’m so glad you agree! And thanks for the love!

  • Beth Say

    I agree completely, Patchouli is the worst!!! Males are just as guilty of over doing the cologne. My brother sprays way too much when he goes out, and every time I tell him he smells like a baby prostitute.

    • Jill Kushner

      Yes!!! Guys do it, too!!!

  • Beth Torrens

    i don’t mind patchouli.. but i do mind patchouli with a dash (or twenty) of BO on the side which is very often how it comes.
    maybe you could start being more standoffish like your other friend? not sure about you but that’s not really my personality so if it were me i would go with the ‘medical excuse’ routine. as they go in for the kill (i’m totally picturing this slow mo, amy-poehler-when-she-goes-to-hug-lindsey-in-mean-girls style..) just stop her & say ‘oh..! is that patchouli? (as if you could possibly be unaware with it reeking in your face) ‘sorry! (cough) i’m SO allergic!’ no idea if this is actually possible but throw in a sneeze for good measure & they’ll be apologizing in no time! you can continue your day ‘chouli free lol

    • Jill Kushner

      If it’s not a real thing, then we’re starting the allergic to patchouli thing! Whew hew! :)

  • Meaghan Ramsey

    I find this to be true for men more than for women. I work at a grocery store and all the time I am overwhelmed by cologne. So much so that I’d rather not wait on the customer.

    • Jill Kushner

      Ugh, that would suck. We are so BFF on this. :)

  • Olivia Joan Corbett

    I totally agree with the bit about getting onto a plane/train/etc. and being attacked by smell. I ride the city bus to and from school every morning, and more often than not I end up spending an early morning hour behind the chick who took a bath in perfume. The worst part? I’m allergic, so by the time I get to school my head is spinning and I can’t breath. Then, as I reach the building and think I’ve escaped the smellfoon I end up being strangled by girls who decided spraying perfume in the hall or bathroom would make people happy. I don’t mind the smell of most perfumes, people just need to use less.

    • Jill Kushner

      Well put! Quantity wins (over quality) this time!

  • Livi Flynn

    Ugh, can’t stand patchouli, it’s just the worst!! I had a maths teacher in school who used to practically bathe in Burberry perfume, which to me just smells like raw fish – that and the combination of mathematics used to give me the most appalling headache..

    • Jill Kushner

      Mathematics and raw fish!!! Hahahaha!

  • Camille Day

    You’re hilarious. And you do make a good point. I happen to love a SUBTLE amount of quality perfume (light, delicious florals) but I agree some people lay it on way, way too thick. And I hate Patchouli! Carrie Bradshaw said it: “I felt like I was wearing patchouli in a room full of Chanel.”

  • Jill Kushner

    Yes! Bradshaw nailed it! And, thanks, Camille!

  • Samarra McQueen

    I can empathise completely with this. Although, in my case, I actually am allergic to cheap perfumes (my eyes tear up and I start sneezing). Not fun. I love perfume, but I really wish people would put a little more effort into choosing something that costs $9.99 from a pharmacy. I know that good quality perfume can be expensive, but do what I do… Ask for it at birthdays and Christmas! Wooo!

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