Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Sense of Smell

NoseImage via WikipediaOur sense of smell serves us in many ways.  The smell of certain foods cooking can illicit responses within us.  For instance, whenever I smell my wife's chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven, I immediately start salivating.  There are other food aromas that can bring about similar responses.

Smells can also alert us to potential danger.  There have been times when I have awakened in the middle of the night because I thought I smelled something burning.  Fortunately, it was something that had fallen on the burner while my wife was cooking so it was nothing to be alarmed about.  There were other times when somehow my wife's laminating machine was turned on accidentally, and I could smell it heating up.

There are other smells that alert us to things that might need attention.  My son still has issues with his toileting thanks to his special needs.  So there are certain obvious smells that tell us when he needs to have his Depends changed.  Smell can alert us to when foods have gone bad and are no longer safe to consume or prepare. 

There are certain smells that I am particularly sensitive to and can cause an adverse reaction.  At times, I often wonder if I am perhaps a bit to sensitive to olfactory stimulation.  One of the odors that I respond to negatively is when somebody wears too much cologne.  I am not talking about getting a subtle whiff of perfume or cologne when you are near somebody, but the overwhelming smell of somebody who seems to bathe in the stuff.

In my opinion, there is an appropriate amount of cologne for somebody to wear.  When applied correctly, perfume or cologne can be quite pleasant.  One should apply just enough cologne so that if you are in the near vicinity of that person that you can get just a sense of the aroma.  In some cases, it can even help to spark a sense of arousal.

Unfortunately, there are some who seems to think that the more smell good you put on, the better when in reality the opposite is true.  When I get into an area with somebody who has too much cologne on, I tend to have a negative physical reaction.  This reaction includes getting headaches, having my eyes itch and water, and a general sense of nausea.

Lately, I seem to be experiencing a lot more folks who are using too much cologne.  I will give you a few examples of the types of things that I have been experiencing.  At work, I park in a parking garage and have to go through a door to a small area where there are five elevators to take us upstairs.  I have entered that area to see nobody else around, but the strong smell of perfume remains in the area.  I have intentionally avoided getting into elevators with some that I recognize as heavy users.

The other day, I was sitting at my desk in my cubicle.  Somebody walked past my cubicle with an extremely strong odor of cologne.  More than a half hour later, I could still smell the cologne. I have also walked into an empty mens room to the overwhelming smell of cologne.  Sometimes I wonder which is worse, the smell of too much cologne or the smell of what is supposed to happen in there.

Years ago, when I worked at another job, we had a senior VP who used to bathe in  expensive cologne.  We could always tell where he was by the smell.  One time, I was walking near him in the hall of the building when he slapped me on the back and asked how I was doing.  I went to my office and he went another direction.  While sitting at my desk, I thought I smelled him, but I didn't hear him enter the office.  It was then that I realized that when he slapped me on the back he left his cologne on me.

I am not anti-cologne.   In fact, just the opposite.  When applied subtly, it can be quite an effective enhancement to one's persona.  However, when you scent lingers long after you have left a room, you have crossed the line from sensual to offensive.
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