On sense and scents

Last night my wife and I went to an event at our local library. It was a night of folk music celebrating National Poetry Month, and the American Songbag of Carl Sandburg. Not the most exciting venue in town, but fun for the curious. (My grandmother’s cousin married Carl Sandburg’s sister, so we’re practically family.)

While we were waiting to start a woman came in with her family and sat down. Just that quickly my wife reacted to them, unable to breathe because of the scent of patchouli. I’ve lived with my wife for 40 years, so I understood what was happening. We moved back a few rows which helped only slightly. My wife sat with her face covered, like a train robber, for the rest of the evening.

Some people have strong reactions to perfume. I’ve seen it happen more than once in the offices I’ve worked in. It is especially bad in an enclosed, public space. Feeling unable to breathe, suffering symptoms of asthma, and having instant headaches are all common reactions among a small percent of the population. This is a real thing. To someone that loves to wear a scent it is unimaginable that someone could be so uncomfortable so quickly, but it does happen.

So, please, if you’re likely to be in a crowd, be aware that your stench is making someone sick. Feel free to bathe, and leave the perfume at home.

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