Washington Post, October 20, 1912. This is the kind of science I can get behind. I’ve never understood the perfume thing. None of them smell good to me, and the urge to colonize other folks’ olfactories with a cocktail of floral essence, whale puke and volatile biological substances extracted from the buttholes of rodents strikes me as passive-aggressive or sociopathic, depending on the intensity of the pong. Never in my life have I gotten out of bed and said to myself, “Yes indeed, everybody’s gonna smell me coming and going today!” Maybe the notion made slightly better sense before the democratization of soap, hot water, flush toilets and other techno-hygienic blessings, but there’s just no excuse for it now. Anyway, it’s been shown to cause hysteria and neurasthenia.
(Forgive the ungraceful, mid-sentence break here: WordPress suddenly isn’t offering me a workaround for this kind of gap-splicing.) “Banana oil!” I always thought this was just an excellent piece of archaic slang, but I’m delighted to know there actually was such a commodity. In the ’20s, “banana oil” was a redolent popular synonym for “bullshit.” There was even a Tin Pan Alley song by that name, recorded by Ethel Waters among others.
Again, I am totally down with Dr. Maxim: Just the other night I was exposed to a single tuberose and I thought my head was gonna split. I’ll take a tire fire or a road-killed skunk at high noon over that stank any day of the week.
Here’s where I part company with Dr. Maxim: If people wanna huff smelly substances (e.g. Charlie or Drakar pour homme), I say let ‘em. So long as it’s not in public, and especially not in restaurants. I don’t know how many meals I’ve had ruined by the proximity of some reeking neurasthenic.