Chemical Warfare

Last Saturday at around 7am I was woken up by a rather strong and sadly, increasingly familiar odour.

Shelby is getting on in years, and I don’t know if with his advancing age he is either getting forgetful or exceedingly polite in not wanting to wake me when he needs to go out in the middle of the night.

I roll out of bed and clean up the mess, putting him out in the process.  I spent a great portion of my adult life as a military medic, so a little dog poo isn’t enough to phase me.  I am thankful that I don’t have carpets though.

I finish up, run the steam mop over the area, wash my hands and return to bed, waiting until I hear Shelby settle before drifting off.

I wake up around 10 and head out for the day.  My weekend mornings usually start at either Joe’s Diner, or Jessi’s Deli for breakfast.   Joe’s is a classic diner, Joe wandering around busing tables and chatting up his regulars.  He disapproves of my reading choices, thinking I should stick to non-fiction.  Joe’s menu has the classic breakfast fare (my regular is a breakfast club, on brown, side instead of back bacon), or the Hungry Man (eegs over easy, sausage instead of ham and brown toast)….both these meals come to $11.81.

Jessi’s is new having taken the place of a William’s Coffee Pub.   The decor is modern and a bit more upscale than Joe’s.   Jessi is this small hyper looking man who always looks nervous but is friendly enough.   The interesting overlap here is a waitress who used to work at Joe’s.   When she was at Joe’s I thought she didn’t like me or something as she always seemed sullen.  When I saw her at the grocery store she would always pretend she didn’t see me.   I would reciprocate by pretending she was a moose…as moose believe if they can’t see you, that you can’t see them.  Now…I should point out that physically this waitress and a moose are completely dissimilar.  While I’ve never seen a moose wearing black leggings, I cannot imagine a moose looking as good in them.

Now when I see her at Jessi’s she is all smiles, and very friendly, and when I saw her at the grocery store,  she walked up and talked to me!

I’m digressing.  On this particular morning I head to Jessi’s.    Jessi knows I prefer a 2 top by the windows but as these were taken I’m seated at one in the middle of restaurant.  I’m separated from my neighbours (a pair of middle aged ladies) by a dividing wall.

As I open my book, I get my first whiff.  The cloying, choking, flowery odour of cheap perfume.  I lean out into the aisle to try and escape, and contemplate making an excuse and leaving, but I ordered as soon as I sat down.

One of my neighbours is dowsed in the stuff.

“WHY???”,  I wonder silently as I glance over, eyes watering.    She is not a stunning beauty, so I’m certain the purpose was not make herself more attractive.

As I try to ignore it and fall into my book, I can’t help but recall the days of my military NBCD training (Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Defence), where you would run around all day in a gas mask and a heavy charcoal suit.

One of the things they like to do to soldiers in these training exercises is to put us through the “gas hut”.    Before entering the hut we don our gas masks and are lined against the walls while the instructor heats up a puck of tear gas on a heating element.   While he’s doing this, he assures us that the room is filling with a noxious, unpleasant gas, 10-100 times worse than what police throw at protesters (the actual number depends on how much that particular instructor likes to embellish facts), all the while he would have us do things like push ups and jumping jacks (to “simulate activity in the field’….I can assure you, if someone is shooting at me I most certainly will not be doing jumping jacks…or push ups!)

Now, I have ascertained from these exercises that NBCD instructors have trust issues and are sadists.  Here’s why.

Instead of just presuming we would take his word that the room is indeed  filled with noxious gas he has us hold our breathe and remove our masks.   So we stand holding our breathe and eyes squeezed shuts while the sadistic bastard will stand in front of each of us and ask us questions, and insist that we actually look at him while we answer.  We are quickly left gagging, with interesting looking fluids running from every hole in our head.   They then show us how to properly don our gas masks and clear the gas out.  More jumping jacks ensue…this is I’m sure to help with the burning sensation.

They explain to us that they do this to us so that we will “have confidence in our equipment” and not that they’re a bunch of sadistic assholes.  You see, I would have just as much faith in my equipment if it worked for something less unpleasant..lets say Pine Sol, or the smell of hamburgers.  Fewer jumping jacks would be nice too.

The entire point of that digression is that I think this ladies perfume was so bad that instead of concentrating on my book I was reminded of my NBCD training.

I remembered the smell that woke me up earlier that day and realized that I would’ve rather had my breakfast with that smell than the chemical flowers drifting off my fellow diner.

Why do people do that?  Douse themselves in artificial scent?

I’ve only encountered 2 women in my entire life who’ve been able to pull it off.

One was my blonde Irish doctor (“Poison”…yes I remember 🙂 ),   and this Japanese woman at the Starbucks in the hotel I was staying at last summer for a convention.   She was irritating me (and everyone else in line) as she didn’t have enough English to order efficiently and thus delaying my morning fix,  but when she slid up next to me at the condiment counter…all was forgiven.  I could’ve followed her around all day).

I’m a guy…and even I know that the right perfume is a combination of your body chemistry and scent, and that a good fragrance carries hints and overtones of fragrance….not bucket loads.

There are only 2 reasons I can think of as to why someone would do this to themselves.  First…they are trying to mask the fact that they haven’t showered.  If that’s the case…take 10 minutes and shower!!!   Trust me, no one wants to see you that badly that will object to waiting 10 minutes to avoid having their nostril hairs burned out by a perfume that could be be classed as a chemical weapon.  Pfffft, if there’s ever a riot and the cops run out of tear gas one of them can run down to the local drug store and buy a perfectly effective replacement.

The second is…attention.   If you want attention so badly…start a blog or something!

I mean seriously…would you rather have people around you who are trying to enjoy a meal prefer to chow down next to a pile of dog shit?


P.S:   I’m not kidding.   True story, yes…I absolutely would’ve preferred the smell of Shelby’s poo over this woman’s perfume.

P.P.S:  I have no idea why I said “dog poo” when I’ve said “shit” about 100 times in this entry…



3 thoughts on “Chemical Warfare

  1. I have often thought that either bad/cheap perfume makes up in potency, what it lacks in quality. I’ve also noticed many old ladies start to marinade in it in lieu of a bath. After watching my poor grandfather shivering from poor circulation in mid August after his stroke, I began to understand…I still didn’t care for the stench though. So while I don’t like to smell the grannies and their Eua De Doo Dah Day, I kind of understand it.

    I have also noticed that the grumpies of beloved pets isn’t so bad to their human counterpart.

    I wholeheartedly agree with you about “Poison” The first woman I fell in love with wore it and I would smell the pillows after she left and swoon. Then, of course, there are those right brained folks out there who claim that love is really bio chemical.

    Great piece.

  2. I cannot agree more. Perfume gives me headaches and makes my eyes water. The worst is when you can taste it. I always wear a scarf in case I need to make a gas mask. I make a point of stating at the beginning of the school year that perfume is unwanted in my class. What ever happened to only being able to smell some when they hugged you?

  3. I was on a bus a few years back when an older lady with some awful perfume got on. It smelt like she must have dipped herself in it. Anyway, the smell was so bad I was travel sick for the first time since I was 10. Luckily the driver was sympathetic and waited whilst I lost my lunch at the roadside and he thought it was horrible too. The only thing worse IMO is people reeking of stale booze and cigarettes.

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