A Scent by Any Other Name

Story Submitted by Glenn:

Paula and I arranged to meet in a small Greek restaurant.  From the instant we hugged, her perfume's scent nearly knocked me over.  It smelled like the concentrated essences of fifty gardens, all packed into a single girl's neck. 

We sat down in a booth, and she must have noticed the very reaction that I tried to mask, because she asked me if I was okay, then reached into her purse and actually spritzed herself with more perfume.  Holy God, I thought I would die.

I thought of the most tactful way I could address it.  I said, "What's that scent your wearing?"

She replied, "China musk.  You like it?"

I said, "It's very potent."

She smiled and spritzed herself again.

"I can smell it just fine," I said.

"Really?" she asked, "I can barely smell it at all."

This was enough.  I could hardly breathe as it was, and I wasn't going to sit there and put on a happy face while my senses screamed at me.

Again, being as genteel as possible, I said, "I think I might be having a reaction to it."

"Oh no," she said, then, curiously, asked, "Do you want me to put on more?"

She pulled it out of her purse and I shouted, "No!" probably a bit too loudly.

I told her that I was probably allergic to something in her perfume.  She asked what she could do, and I suggested taking a walk outside, where at least the aroma could dissipate.

She reached across the table and said, "Give me your arm.  I'll spritz some on there and we can see if you're allergic to the perfume or to something else."

She had her perfume bottle at the ready.  I said, "No way."

She explained, "This is how dermatologists do it.  It's just your arm.  It won't hurt.  See?"

She spritzed her neck again.  Stop spritzing yourself!

I said, "I just need some air," and stood up to go outside.

As I walked away, she said, "I'm only trying to help."

Outside, I took several gulps of air.  I then took a deep breath and went back inside.

I was about to take my seat again when she held up her perfume bottle.  "Just to see if you're allergic," she said, "Come on.  Sit down."

"I'm sorry," I said, and I really was, "But I can't do this."

I left her there.  I felt guilty, but I just couldn't breathe in one more lungful of China musk.


  1. Why didn't you just tell her she had too much perfume on? Doesn't seem like such a big deal to me.

  2. He told her multiple times that he was allergic to it and her response was to continue to spray it. She wanted to spray him with it! Something he's claiming is giving him an allergic reaction! What else is there to say?

  3. ^ No, he said he THOUGHT he MIGHT be allergic to something in it. There is a difference.

    I never said he was in the wrong. I was just wondering why he didn't just tell her outright instead of lying.

  4. How do you know if it specifically is giving you an allergic reaction? Let me spray it on you and if your throat swells and closes up and you cannot breathe then sorry, my bad, you are indeed allergic.

  5. I'm sorry, this is the old emergency room nurse coming out in me. You wouldn't believe the people that come in with anaphylactic allergic reactions to anything, let's use fish as an example.

    "I had to use my epi pen because my throat was swelling up."

    "Any idea why?"

    "It could be because I went to Red Lobster and ate fish."

    "Are you allergic to fish?"

    "Oh yes, very allergic. That's why I have my epi pen."

    Same idea.

    "Please stop straying that because I think I might be allergic."

    "Let's find out for sure, let me spray you with it!"

    All without an epi pen.

  6. . . . which is why I said he should've been truthful to begin with. Then she never would have suggested spraying it on him, though I guess you could say it showed her stupidity and the OP was lucky to see it sooner rather than later.

  7. ""Really?" she asked, "I can barely smell it at all.""

    Maybe because you burnt out your sense of smell. Someone who sprays perfume that often has a problem of some sort. Not sure if it's OCD or what though.

  8. Musk is an unfortunate scent, some people can't smell it at all, to some it's pleasant and for another group it's really strong and smells unpleasant.

  9. I have the motto that perfume and cologne should be a discovery...not an announcement!

  10. I don't mean to be annoying, but if somebody says they might be having an allergic reaction to something, they shouldn't have to prove themselves. Saying that he was allergic to her perfume is easier than saying 'you stink'.

    There was a woman in a retirement home where I used to work many years ago, and she claimed to be allergic to macaroni noodles. She was not allergic to any other noodle. They all were made of the same ingredients, flour and water, so we came to the conclusion that she just didn't like the bendy hollow shape. She knew that just saying she didn't like it wouldn't guarantee that she wouldn't get served it, so she said she was allergic. That is because most people, when they hear that somebody is allergic to something they will go out of their way to make sure that person isn't in contact with it. We didn't sit the woman down and demand she eat macaroni to prove her allergy. That's just stupid.

  11. @ babyforrest: i think you're reading too much into the general stupidity that's usually reflected in these stories. They're just meant to amuse us and remind that some people are really, really dumb and/or mean.

  12. That's all I'm saying. I was just arguing for why he didn't just tell her he didn't like the way she smelled. Otherwise, we all agree with each other.

  13. Did you think the story I told earlier was meant to show how smart people are? hahaha!

  14. Howie! That's the most pleasant and good advice I've read you give!


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