Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Scent Layering

There are mysterious things in this world that I am deeply comfortable with (e.g. thunderstorms and prayer). There are quite a few campy, kitschy things in this world that I am secretly fond of (e.g. I have one of these). There are Hallmark Holidays (co-opted from pagan traditions even) that I do like (e.g. Halloween, minus the chainsaws). But the commerical industry surrounding Valentine's Day is off-putting. Schizo. Completely and utterly whacked even.
The hype is puzzling without being interesting. The target audience for the marketing is hard to get a read on. Valentine's Day American style is now the season after Christmas and before St. Patrick's Month. The love/sex thing in the media is alarming and both crass and prudish. The whole thing baffles me. Don't get me wrong. I am absolutely willing to take a nationally accepted chance for a romantic dinner with someone I love (especially if it includes wine and is followed by either the presentation of diamonds or the suggestion of massage oil!)
But going to Kroger's during Valentine's Season is surreal. Amid the necessary foodstuffs there are KimPossible and Franklin the Turtle valentines next to bags and bags of chocolate next to grocery store roses (dusty silk or practically frozen real ones - your choice) next to homemaker magazines touting sexy dinner recipes and advice on keeping your man satisfied (here take our Valentine's Day quiz) next to health magazines with this month's special feature: New Research on STD's (here take our Valentine's Day quiz) next to a last minute cooler case at the check out with frozen heart shaped cookie dough with the icing already in the tube! Don't look up because there is a battalion of pink, red, and white mylar cherubs and bears waiting to descend. If you make it out of the grocery store without being clued in (and weirded out) that Valentine's Day is nigh, beware the television ads that seek to inform you of that special getaway in the Smokies that's still available or even more direct are the ads that want to remind you to stock up on your ED medication in preparation for the big day. In case you still need suggestions for making this day meaningful - you can follow this couple's lead. I just don't understand. At all.
And the Valentine's Day concept that I don't understand the most is 'scent layering'. While scent layering is perhaps less frightening (and slightly less permanent) than matching nose jobs, it is still offensive and revolting. Apparently the push is to get you to purchase a 'coordinated bath scent set' for your true love. Nothing says I love you like twelve products whose combined scent could punch a hole through the ozone. I can imagine (barely) some poor schmuck being talked into this purchase by some mesmerizing mall person - BUT I can't begin to imagine being the recipient of such a gift who decides to actually use the entire set in the prescribed manner! But I know they exist because as I ran today a woman (brightly blonde with a fake and bake tan) drove by me in her VW Bug with the windows open. I couldn't actually see the aroma clouds but the smell made my eyes water for the next tenth of a mile! Did she follow the package instructions exactly?! The suggestions on those things read something like this: first scented bath beads, and then scented exfoliating scrub, then scented cleansing gel, followed by scented moisturizer, sealed with a lightly scented spray cologne. And for that special touch just douse your sheets and write a love note on paper that's been spritzed! I might as well stick an ice pick through my eye and get it over with rather than have to be in an elevator with a scent layered person. I don't care whether it's flowery or musky - that much scent concentrated around one person should be illegal. Maybe if I spew vomit on their shoes, they'll be discouraged from future layering efforts?
I'm trying to be non-judgmental and compassionate. Maybe these folks are victims themselves of some earlier, scent-layering fiend and it burned out their olifactory nerves. Maybe they were never able to smell anything in the first place! As pleasant as that thought is on the Perfume Industry's National Holiday - I have to say that not being able to smell anything would suck rocks the rest of the year! Imagine not being able to smell fresh baked bread or your newborn's head! Tragic.
So VW Lady - here's hoping that your nasal passages are not irreversibly damaged and your Bug is not permanently infused with your noxious scent. And oh yeah: here's hoping your Valentine doesn't spew chunks on your shoes!

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