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Smells Like the Last Date

Smells Like the Last Date
Luv Doc,
I went out with a woman last week and we hit it off pretty well except for one thing: Her perfume was really, really awful. I even cut the evening off a bit early because of it. Now she is emailing me and hinting strongly about going out again. I would, but I don’t think I can take the smell. Should I tell her that her perfume makes me wretch, or should I just not go out with her again? She is great looking, intelligent, warm, and witty. It is just this one thing. Bad chemistry?
- Don’t Want the Funk

My guess is that it might be too early in your relationship to suggest that your next date with this woman be a long, hot bubble bath followed by a rollicking sport sex on the bathroom tile, but at this point, what do you have to lose? She’s probably going to take that much better than you honestly admitting that her fragrance makes you want to wretch. People get touchy about that kind of thing. In fact, humans share a vast well of insecurity about body odor – one that powers more than 30 billion dollars worth of personal fragrance sales annually.

Body odor, both bad and good, taps a very primal response mechanism in our brains – one that blocks out all other sensory data. It’s a sobering reminder of the old adage that looks aren’t everything. If you’re desperately trying to hold down your lunch because your date’s personal scent is some sort of nauseating mashup of rotting corpse, dog vomit, and day three of an ACL porta-potty, it won’t matter one bit if she looks like Jessica Alba. You’d be more attracted to Meat Loaf (the Fight Club version, of course) - especially if he just hosed himself down with a potent combo of Axe Body Spray and Drakkar Noir. Seriously, those fragrances are so strong they cross genders and species.

The other side of this coin is actual science – in other words, your olfactory senses are getting a whiff of her pheromones and telling you in the only way they can that you shouldn’t mate with this woman or your offspring will end up looking like that banjo-playing kid from Deliverance.

Sometimes when you think a woman simply has horrible taste in perfume, what’s really turning your stomach is her body chemistry’s interaction with said fragrance – well, either that or she actually decided to pop the top on that sample vial of Britney Spears Fantasy that was pressed into her hand as she was walking out of JCPenney.

Either scenario is a reasonably strong argument for trusting your nose, which, as Toucan Sam so elegantly puts it, “always knows.” Keep in mind though, that Toucan Sam was referring to Fruit Loops, which might smell heavenly, but are cooked up in a lab somewhere – probably in New Jersey – and if eaten regularly, are more dangerous than a bunch of sodomizing Appalachian hillbillies.

So, the hard truth here is that is that you can’t trust your nose. If you really like everything else about this woman, you should bite the bullet and address this issue with her as diplomatically as you can. Before you do, however, I suggest you put on a dog attack suit, baseball helmet and a catcher’s mask.

Need some advice from the Luv Doc? Send your questions to luvdoc@austinchronicle.com, or check out the Luv Doc Archive.

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