Sunday, January 2, 2011

Putrid, Wretched, and Loved by Millions: Smuggling Forbidden Fruit

This week, Abigail talked about requests made by complete strangers that she not wear perfume in their presence during the holidays. Seeing this video on the dread fruit Durian reminded me of her comments. It also reminds me of my daily routine at work, where I hide perfume in my bag and sniff from the bottle furtively, lest someone in the next room cough or sneeze or clear his or her throat in a way which is intended to indicate displeasure at something I myself can barely smell and find it hard to believe anyone else can at all.

Imagine, watching the following clip, that the subject, instead of the fruit in question, is perfume. It's not such a stretch:


tarleisio said...

No, it's not stretch at all to imagine the dreaded durian exchanged with perfume. And although I can understand why the durian is banned (They are beyond description, which is all I'm saying), I wonder at why the US in particular is so adamant about scents. It's almost as if the one thing apart from our demeanor which distinguishes us - our ghostly olfactory aura - is frowned upon for being---too distinctive? Individual? Would it be better if we were all one large gray mass of unscented humanity? What ever happened to making an impression?

I wonder about that. I'm not the only one.

Thank you, Brian, for making my life way more fun, illuminating and informative than it should be - and may all your wishes - perfume and otherwise - come true in the year ahead!

Marina said...

Great analogy!

Brian said...

Thanks, Tarleisio, for your comments and for the firsthand info on Durian. I'm insanely curious now. Is it worse than the proverbial backside of Guerlain's "mistress"?

tarleisio said...

Well, the backside of Guerlain's 'mistress' has that human aspect that durians lack. And let's face it - she may not be a lady, but she is very well bred!

I was in Indonesia in 1997, and when in Rome...errrr, Sulawesi, I should say...came across these spiky fruits. For one, they are huge - the smallest I saw was about the size of a soccer ball, with a hard and very spiky shell. Next sensory assault - good grief! That smell.. Something along the lines of a greengrocer's garbage can during a heatwave...with a generous helping of the same 'tropical fruit' note that passion fruit can have, too. And how does it taste? I did that, too - just so I could say I did it! A bit like passion fruit, a bit like mango (with certain turpentine undertones) and almost...boozy, without the alcohol. I understand that orangutangs go ape for them...

Khanh said...

For me, durians barely have a scent, like that of a creamy, slightly overripe fruit. Rather pleasant. I know some people find it intolerable, but I just can't imagine how it could be perceived as such.

Brian said...

I'm fascinated that any one scent would be so prevalent that establishments would actually have a protocol for it.

ScentScelf said...

You don't need to cross the ocean. Here in the U.S., gingko tree fruit has caused the same uproar. I remember listening to a neighbor complain mightily about a third party who had planted a female tree. Said neighbor did not use the adjectives a web search easily turns up -- "vomit" and "dog poo" are most frequently used in describing the smell of the fruit.

The clip refers to how far east cultures find the smell of cheese to be repulsive. Well, the narrator says something like "ripe cheese," but I think that a qualifier is not required...for some, ANY cheese is a problem.

I could spend two hours across a table discussing the various aspects about whether culturally we have a problem here. I've heard the drums start up again...when it comes to family reactions, maybe somebody had a bad response to one perfume, and translates that to "perfume" in general. Heck, I surprised myself by falling into this perfume interest; I thought for sure years of getting headaches from my Nana's Avon--see, I blame a manufacturer, when it might have been one scent, or overapplication, or a combination of perfume + cigarette smoke [ruh roh, another personal freedom], or perfume + rich food, or perfume + too much input--after those headaches, just the idea of perfume made me queasy.

There are issues of personal affront involved (what? if you deny my perfume, you deny ME!) ramped up by interpersonal dynamics. There are issues of genuine physical responses, whether or not truly triggered by a given application of a particular perfume.

And there is the interesting inclination to contain.

This is beyond grey. It is "yes" on both sides.

I will point out, however, that eliminating the fruit means the elimination of a species. Which is perhaps why the gesture of establishing a protocol allows for all expressions of reality.

FruitDiet said...

Weirdly, I never encounter any problems with my perfume (which I apply MORE THAN liberally, multiple times a day, whatever it is) because if anyone asks I tell them I make it a point to stink up anywhere I am because I'm so into perfume, and that anyone who complains about a smell (particularly a good one) is a stupid PC pussy, and that perfume is an art. I dunno, people just don't really question it after I've told them I wear tons of perfume ON PURPOSE, since they've undoubtedly never met a man before who did that, or talked about it so forcefully. People who haven't talked to me must surely assume it's some, "Should I tell him that he's wearing too much cologne? Do you think he knows?" situation. Oh, I know.

I'm gay as all get-out but lately I'm not so excited about don't ask don't tell or whatever the newest development in gay liberation is when the rights of SMOKERS and PERFUME-WEARERS are so infringed upon. I'm more of a biological smoker than I am a biological homosexual. I'm sick of all of these bored, privileged white people with their gluten allergies and their perfume allergies and their supposed right to smoke-free air (even though they inhale tons of car exhaust at any given moment) and their powder-fresh deodorant. That's another thing- wearing perfume isn't kosher anymore, but people wear the most hideous, loud, stonking deodorants and no one complains- the female ones all smell horribly of baby powder and the male ones are those horrible Old Spice or Axe things that project for miles. I guess that's "okay" since it's done in the name of NOT OFFENDING ANYONE with your body odor.

What particularly annoys me is that whenever I'm shopping for perfume with anyone, or whenever I overhear anyone in a store, if they approve of something then their only reason is that it "isn't overpowering". Why don't I hear anyone saying something is good because it's overpowering? I love being overpowered by fragrance! I don't want it to be some soft, gentle, barely-noticed enhancement of my personality and grooming process! If I wanted that I'd just use soap and deodorant, not pay exorbitant prices! I want to BATTLE with it and THINK about it and TALK about it. When I first bought Aromatics Elixir, it felt like I had a loaded gun on my dresser, I was so frightened of it. Now I'm far more desensitized- I think the only thing with the power to really ruin my life is Giorgio (which I love, but only wear when I'm feeling REAL misanthropic).