How manipulative synthetic-aroma chemists have changed our home, work and shopping environments -- and our consumer products, behavior, and cognition

Holy Sheet! Elderly Girl Could Lie Here Forever


    Each morning, when my alter ego Elderly Girl awakes, there is a smile on her lips and a flush on her cheeks.  How could there not be -- she is lying lavishly in a Wildflower Meadow, with undertones of Summer Rain.

    Her sheets smell like the 1960s. Does anybody out there remember those days? There were vacant lots everywhere that we called “meadows.” You could slip deep inside, beneath a tree with your teenage boyfriend, and kiss for hours amid flowery, grassy dewiness.

    And now some genius has immersed Elderly Girl once again in that ecstatic era. Thank you, sir! Her wrinkled loins are tingling poignantly.



    How ever did you pull it off, Mr. Detergent Man? But why didn’t you just name the scent “Freshly Showered Adolescent Male,” thereby getting right to the point? Oh wait -- Elderly Girl gets it. You were being coy! You were flirting! How apropos!




    Next time she washes her sheets, which she does so often now because it has turned bedtime into such an adventure, she can choose from, among many others, apple-mango tango, vanilla-lavender, mountain fresh, Hawaiian breeze (as opposed to the slightly naughtier Tropical breeze), lemongrass (for her more meditative phases) and Thai dragon fruit, which she has so far lacked the courage to try. That shit could really mess with your dreams. Crouching tigers!



    How did people ever keep their happy faces on when all they had to look forward to at bedtime was the soapy smell of soap? It’s sad to think of those drab, colorless lives of yesteryear.  

     The tender miracles of industrial chemistry have, over the past 25 years, gradually transformed Elderly Girl’s life into a nasal wonderland. Her olfactory apparatus gets more exercise than the rest of her body combined. She could be deaf, dumb and blind and still live quite a full life right inside her nose.



   In the shower, she washes her hair with vanilla-mint tea shampoo (passionflower sorbet is for alternate days; coconut kiwi is for when a friend has died) (she IS elderly, and it’s happening quite often, all of a sudden).

A new shampoo adventure for every day of your life.

    She detangles her shoulder-length tresses, which are an undyed mass of gold and silver, with ocean mist conditioner (the rosemary/chamomile blend is for alternate days; crushed orchid is for when a friend is having a joint replacement).



     Then comes the apricot scrub, which makes her long for her mother’s fruit cobbler, and keeps her facial skin smooth and glowing.

    Her shower stall -- thank goodness it is huge -- has plenty of shelf space, and she chooses among many bath gels, depending upon the season, her mood, the “time of the month,” and her aspirations for the day.

    (She still reserves the right to have a “time of the month.” Why should she lose her privilege to be moody and/or crying over nothing just because she doesn’t menstruate any longer? That is such a capricious rule).



     Anyway,  sorry for the digression: You can’t go wrong with a big, thick washcloth drenched in peach and orange-blossom body wash.

All lathered up in peachiness, your whole outlook gets warm and fuzzy.

    There is a lot of surface area to cover, now that she has hanging, sagging skin everywhere (even her dear privates weren’t spared) but underneath all that elephant hide is a delightful -- and, may she add, totally admirable, awesome, character-driven -- infrastructure of tidily striated and mounded muscles (her exercise dungeon is put to good use).

Bathed in Glory

    As she scrubs and suds herself from head to toe in this fruity concoction, she feels like singing, or even getting back in bed with a bottle of champagne. Could she possibly be any yummier?

    Well, no, but imagine the transcendence that  envelops Elderly Girl on the days when -- instead of the orange blossom --  she selects the pastel piquancy of sweetpea-and-violet shower gel. 



   All her petty revenge fantasies and neuroses seem to bubble away! And don’t get her started about what pomegranate nectar or lily waterfall can do for your state of mind. She reserves the less effusive cucumber-melon product for when a friend is having a tumor removed. It just feels more respectful.

    (MAY 2013 update: Dove has synthesized and chemicalized a  whole new line of shower and moisturising products  that will "leave you in peaceful tranquility while nourishing and pampering you." Imagine coconut and jasmine, almond cream and hibiscus, "harmonious plum" and sakura blossoms, whipped cream and green tea, nectarine and white ginger.

    None of it real, of course, or tested for safety. Aren't aroma factories and professional "nasal consultants" great???)

    Elderly Girl shaves her legs with pineapple mousse. When she’s feeling hopelessly immature -- which, to be honest, is most of the time -- she uses the baby-powder-scented foam instead.

    But wait -- there’s more -- so much more that we wouldn’t dare burden you with all of it. This olfactory extravaganza has just begun.



    Elderly Girl must be thoroughly moisturized after all that scrubbing (and you better be too). God, lotions are fabulous, you could just eat yourself, or at least hug yourself, which Elderly Girl can’t help doing several times a day.

    Crushed rose petal lotion is perfect for visiting demented chums in nursing homes, although Elderly Girl finds it a bit overbearing in other settings.

     She would urge you to consider Verbena, Caramel Macchiato, Freesia, Strawberries and Cream, Tangerine, Margarita Mist and -- if you need to be the dominant force in an executive setting -- a blend of patchouli and bergamot. You will slaughter the bastards, especially if your clothes have been freshly washed in Summer Thunder liquid detergent.

    For those special nighttime interludes, a shimmer lotion with glittery flecks is advised, scented with Parisian Gardens.



    When it comes to deodorants, Elderly Girl has decided to retire. She doesn’t sweat anymore, and really, the selection is so overwhelming, she would rather just have a little BO and forget about it. 

      Just one of the Secret brand's many distinctive lines of "themed" deodorant products offers her “11 fabulous ways to sparkle,” including Truth or Pear, Cherry Mischief, Fashionista Fruit, Mystic Melon and Diva la Daisy.

    Secret urges its customers to “apply daily with fearlessness,” choosing their scents based upon whether they are feeling “hot, sassy, cute, glam or feisty.”

    They must not have heard of Elderly Girl. She is all of these things and more (except for fearless -- she is fundamentally fearful), and she is not about to play favorites for the convenience of a deodorant company.



Would you rather be the armpit or the nose?

    Anyway, why would you want your armpits to be spewing forth with a scent? Shouldn’t your fragrance be coming from your bosom, or somewhere like that? The problem is that “unscented” IS scented, to mask the actual smell of the deodorant, which is a horrifying amalgamation of odiferous and unwholesome chemicals.

   (The aggressively named deodorants for men would make any decent woman quake in her high-heeled boots. Have you walked down that aisle lately? Aren’t men making enough trouble without infusing their armpits with Extreme Blast, Swagger, Naughty Playmaker, Game Day, Pure Force, Egyptian Musk, Hot Sex and Magnum Man? Please! Can’t we do the wildflower thing with them, too? Or something edible like Chocolate Cake, or Grilled Portobello or Peanut Butter Dream? Let‘s try to get them to chill out, not make them more dangerous).  

    Maybe the deodorant industry could follow the inspired lead of Burger King, which has created "Flame," a "seductive body spray" for men that "reproduces the fragrance you love": that of a Burger King hamburger. And men seem to relish it!


    In June, Schick began selling the first men’s scented razor, “defying what it admits is conventional wisdom.” Sales data are not yet in, but it seems absurd that it took so long to get the razors infused with perfume. Everything else is! 




   Anyway, ladies, back to the task at hand. Now that you’re all showered and lotioned, it’s time for your body splash, your eau de toilette, your cologne, your perfume, whatever it takes -- any one or all of them: It’s an olfactory jungle out there. It won’t be easy to stand out.

    It will soon be easier, though. Elderly Girl -- who has worn cologne pretty much every day for the past 50 years -- is weaning herself off of it. In a week or so, she'll be through.

     She is doing it for you. She has hogged the spotlight for so long, and had all those men throwing themselves at her feet decade after decade, and she has finally realized how unfair she has been to all of you wonderful young ladies out there, who certainly deserve some male attention.

    Every once in awhile, she has felt compelled to be honest, and to say, "I am old enough to be your mother," or even, "I am almost old enough to be your grandmother!" but the dear boys just laughed sweetly and kissed her fingers, apparently so intoxicated by her heavenly emissions that they were blinded to all the elephant hide, gray hairs, etc., that we have already described in excruciating detail. They were hopelessly in love!

    She is very sorry it took so long for her to realize that she didn't need ALL of those men for herself. One is actually more than enough. So she is unscenting herself -- putting an end to this self-indulgent mass seduction of hers -- and sending them into your arms. Please enjoy them, with Elderly Girl's compliments.


    It was hard to quit smoking and drinking and doing drugs, but to stop using cologne is in some ways an even more cruel shock to the system. To emit no fragrance, when one is accustomed to living in a lovely cloud of personal aroma, is like not existing. It's like being the undead or something, where you are a sad, transparent apparition, moving around like an irrelevancy, a raggedy, hunched-over ghost, who no one even sees, much less longs for.

They have been her armor and her amour almost all her life.

     How she has loved her Norell, Replique, L'air du Temps, Maroc, Halston, Gucci, Estee Lauder, Dolce and Gabana, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Jean Patou, everything by Bulgari, Guerlain, Dunay, Baccarat and all the other shamefully high-priced crystal bottles that the thoughtful gentlemen have delicately placed in her lap during the past half-century. They can be so sweet when it suits their nefarious goals, but she has been far more nefarious than they. She never gave them a thing in return, except for the most brilliant and witty conversation they will ever experience.



     But one thing that has surprised Elderly Girl, as she has endured the agonies of withdrawal from her addiction to being scented, is that she wasn't just wearing perfume to be attractive to men. She was wearing it, without realizing it, to be likable to people in general. She felt on some level that everyone would be more receptive to her if she smelled good. And probably, at some very deep level, she had a profound fear of being repulsive or smelly, and the cologne was a cape she wore to keep all her bad vapors from seeping out.

    Something very large is being amputated as Elderly Girl bids adieu to her perfumed self. A new era is beginning, like it did after 9/11. No need to send thank-you notes, girls. Just enjoy the spoils of war.



    One secret Elderly Girl will share with you, now that she doesn’t view you as her competition for the attention of All the Men in the World, is that your lip gloss is crucial as you strategize your conquest of life.

    The right scent will make men want to kiss you so DARN MUCH, they will be unable to think of anything else. They will soon be conditioned to salivate at the very sight of you. It’s diabolical! In fact, the best scents will make even your lady colleagues long for a quick smooch.

    Elderly Girl did very well with the various vanilla blends, the berry lineup and the bubble-gum (although that drew in the pedophiles, so be on the alert). The grape and orange were always high-impact choices as well. But the one that was The Bomb, as Randy Jackson would put it, was butterscotch. If you really are willing to just kill the guy with longing, go for that one. Let your conscience be your guide.



    Elderly Girl rarely leaves home. There is just too much of everything: traffic, people, aisles, signs, lines. It overwhelms her and makes her feel frail and  doddery. It is confusing and blurry and dizzying.

    People ask her, “Do you need some assistance?”

    She just needs to get out of there!

    At home, she strides about with youthful insouciance, her head held high. How grateful she is to be alive at a time when you can transform your humble abode into a breathtaking landscape that can transport your spirit and modulate your mood.

Ah, the ambiance of an Alpine meadow in your living room!


    All you need are Glade room fresheners, or any one of the superbly calibrated, spirit-elevating brands of home-scenting products that promise nothing less than an Extreme Makeover of your life -- a remix of the rhythm, a transformation of the terrain.

    They actually promise to “turn your house into a home.” That seems a bit grandiose, not to mention insulting, but we’ll let it go, for the time being.

    Glade’s latest plug-in “warmers” alternate between two complementary fragrances every 45 minutes.

Glade's grandiose self-image unfurls.


    Its “Relaxing Moments Collection” assures you that “A Caribbean beach escape is only a moment away as the scents of blue aqua, sun-warmed figs, and ripe mango fill the air.”

Sitting at home, feeling as if you're on a Caribbean beach. It's pure magic.

(and then)

“Slip into a tranquil sanctuary of flowers and waterfalls, where clear springs, lily of the valley and melon fragrance the air.”


     Glade’s “Limited Collection” for fall includes “Cashmere Woods,” which invokes “Apple-picking on a crisp autumn afternoon. Kicking through piles of fallen leaves. Sipping tea and watching the trees turn, while wrapped in the warmth of a cherished quilt. Enjoy all that fall has to offer.”

Glade's "Cashmere Woods" scent enables you to "enjoy all that fall has to offer."


(alternating with:)

    “Plumb-berry Velour,” which lures you to exult “in the sweet smell of  berry tart fresh out of the oven. The rich vanilla punctuated by hints of blackberry and apple satisfies your sweet tooth and perks you up.”

The right air freshener is the next best thing to a real berry tart.


    (Satisfies your sweet tooth? I rather doubt it! Elderly Girl, as uplifted as she is by the majesty of these amalgams, wonders what sort of insane, insular group-think had to occur for these marketing fantasies to be created. Didn‘t anyone have the balls to say, “We‘re getting carried away“?)

     One must admit, though, that Glade is deeply attuned to the needs of the human spirit and to the pivotal role played by our noses in this ongoing meditation we so naively call life (we really should call it “The Truman Show,” after the Jim Carrey movie in which he finds himself living in a totally artificial, creepily orchestrated reality). 



Lie back and let it flood you with ecstasy.

    “There is nothing quite like the scent of the great outdoors. Energize your soul with the crisp fragrance of nature's most inspiring places,” Glade urges you, while enabling, or actually requiring, you to remain indoors to do so.

    They also know how homey it is to bake desserts, but who the hell has time for that? Or even if you do have time, who wants to bother when you can sit back and watch the Food Channel? Just whip out one of Glade’s plug-ins and, “Take in deep wafts of goodies baking in the oven. Cinnamon, brown sugar and vanilla, your kitchen’s a treasure trove of delectable scents.”

 The only authentic cookies we have anymore are the ones in our computers.

    Since you’re not actually cooking, it’s nice that your hand soap (raspberry-almond) and dish soap (ginger green apple) can reinforce the concept that your kitchen serves a function related to food. 



    These sorts of cues can help make sense of a somewhat nonsensical existence.

     Glade’s magical little aroma-diffusing appliances can be supplemented with scented candles, which give such a lovely, serene flicker to Elderly Girl’s bathroom, making it seem more like a Buddhist shrine than a place to pee.

    And incense, of course, brings a whole new dimension to your environment, in which you can almost feel the presence of a flute player and a (very well behaved) cobra in the corner over there.

Incense can be an antidepressant, except for the lung-cancer aspect.

     A site that peddles Ayurvedic incense, and is obviously written by someone for whom English is a second language, charmingly explains:  “In a moment of self-forgetfulness, the incense fragrances transport us to a world of the earth as the Mother. Where everything is pure and clean and holy, wafting unforgettable breezes filled with the Nature perfumes of Her countless children.”

    Of course, we already knew that, but who would be so cruel as to chastise such a gentle reminder?



    Thanks to these thoughtful products, Elderly Girl is able to go from one ecosystem to another, from one comforting confection to another, and from one distinctive mood or culture to another, simply by honoring the great gift that chemistry has bestowed upon her household.

    Has life ever been more adventurous? Has home ever been, ironically, less homogenous?

Is some sinister force trying to turn life into a "happy movie"?

     But there is a question that arises in dear Elderly Girl’s ever-tumultuous mind. Does she infuse her atmosphere with a particular scent because she is feeling a certain way, or does she feel a certain way because the scent is there? How did this all unfold? She can’t remember when or how it began. Has she been brainwashed and programmed and conditioned to respond to specific triggers like some old-yet-still-glamorous Pavlov’s dog? Who’s in charge? Who is leading and who is following in this mad tango of multibillion-dollar manipulation?



    Did she, herself, decide to stay in her robe and read a work of Great Literature, or did some conniving scent flip a neural switch that made the decision for her? She had planned to glide her superhero self into a sleek yoga ensemble and practice her Warrior Pose, but this impulse mysteriously faded from her cerebral cortex, her hypothalamus, wherever those things happen. It just whooshed away.


   Who is messing with Elderly Girl’s mind? She will mess them right back -- that’s for sure. Maybe she’ll do a blog or something if she can wrench herself free from the tentacles of AromaWorld and get her groove back.



    Is our fake-fragrance-filled existence exerting mind control? The companies that create the products make it explicit: their goal is to “intoxicate,” “tranport” and “transform” us.

    "Next time you deal with someone, use fragrance to stack the deck in your favor," they urge corporate clients.

    They have neurologists and psychologists and all kinds of other guys EXAMINING us, studying our behavior, peeking down from hidden cameras, scanning our brains. They aren’t fooling around! They have paid universities to conduct studies of  whether scent can affect dreams. It can! Just what might be their strategy for making use of this information?

    Could the industry's insights into how scent affects us be used politically? Sexually? To make your kids shut up? To shut you up? Do you think it could turn us gay or Jewish? Gays and Jews run everything else -- they probably run this fragrance thing too. My god -- they are surely plotting to recruit us into their ranks! Would we have to be either or both or what?

    Elderly Girl is already half Jewish, so they’ll probably leave her alone. If she has to be gay, and there's definitely nothing wrong with that, she would like to place an order to have K.D. Lang assigned as her wife.

    One would surely hope that the chemical puppet-masters  will contrive some new smells to ease us into this aroma-induced gayness. Elderly Girl would really be too shy, even with someone as warm and all-embracing as K.D. Couldn't we just be friends for a few years first?  




    Elderly Girl isn’t concerned for her own sake, of course. She is most assuredly the master of her own fate. Go ahead, Glade, and spew your cookie smells, and peppermint-frosted birthday cake and apple pie smells, your brownie and lemon-meringue pie smells all you want. Elderly Girl’s refrigerator is filled with exactly what she -- as a formidably autonomous woman -- has CHOSEN to eat: berries, melons, citrus, peaches….well, OK, it is filled with her shower-gel flavors, but that is purely coincidental. Or maybe she chose the gel because of what was already in her refrigerator?


    The sequence has become murky. Come to think of it, what used to be in her refrigerator was rice and beans, greens, yams, broccoli and tofu. Then, mysteriously, she was seduced into this whole tropical fruit craziness. She doesn’t remember why she ever started buying body wash…what could the lure have been, because plain old Ivory soap was so very adequate? It’s confusing to try and reconstruct it all.

    But the thing is, what if they started putting secret chemicals in the so called "Melon Madness" body wash that attached to her Veal Parmigiana brain receptors, or her Chicken Florentine receptors or her Trout Almondine  receptors? They could turn her back into a carnivore! Doesn't that seem possible?



    But she does recall this heroin-like rush she got when the universe of scents began to unfold, and she remembers the joy, the beauty, the stimulation, the endless selection, the colors, the sleek designs, the elegant logos, and all those scents seemed like such a thoughtful, civilized Art Form that suffused you with its abundance and charm, such delicacy and frivolity, all that affirmation and celebration. It was one big step for Mankind

    She unthinkingly stuck in one toe (she believes it was a Tootsie-Roll lip gloss), and she has been drowning in the stuff ever since.

    It probably just happened that the lip gloss contained a little psychoactive molecular thing that planted in her mind the urge to buy a scented candle. And that had another sub-atomic tweak that got her started with all the other thrilling scents and colors and moods and just the happiness of the words and imagery, which were all so NATURAL with the berries and blossoms and oceans, (and the green tea and the rosemary and the white chocolate) but now it’s hitting home that this is all a tragic, infuriating LIE!

So-called "vanilla" scent is made in this delicious facility.


   Please excuse Elderly Girl. She takes that back. She just got a spritz of Tawny Dawn fragrance nebulizer,  and now she sees the error of her thinking. It’s like she went to one of those re-education camps during the Maoist era, except that she didn’t have to get shipped off somewhere that had bunk beds with filthy, stained mattresses, and cold concrete showers and gruel three times a day. She got re-educated in a flash, in her home, right up her nose.

    But she will have a big bowl of broccoli sauteed with garlic and olive oil tonight, just to show the bastards who‘s boss.



    If you are one of those so-called “normal, healthy, mature adults” who is able to drive, hold down a job and do the shopping, you may very well have a mood-boosting air freshener in your car. If you don’t, never mind -- cars will soon come with their own “fragrance infrastructure,” just as your office building will, so that “functionally appropriate scents will be dispersed automatically throughout the desired environment.”

     Aromascience™ uses the mood-evoking benefits of fragrance to promote a sense of well-being, and given the spirit-killing nature of most jobs these days, a bit of well-being, however fake, is a welcome development.  



    Casinos are particularly considerate about this issue, spending up to $500,000 a year for their AromaSys or ScentStream® technologies, which use both existing  ductwork and strategically located nebulizers to disperse complex scents that have been constructed, at the molecular level, to increase the average time and money spent gambling. The effects that these magical potions have on the brain can actually be witnessed live on a functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) machine.

    At the “M” resort, a “green floral fragrance with notes of fig and a hint of coconut flesh with a woody body” is used in the gambling area.

Chemical fragrance is beautiful, in the abstract.

    “Keeping guests energized and enthusiastic is very important,” the resort acknowledges. “The scent on our casino floor completes the overall gaming experience with a dimension that invigorates players and makes the gaming experience one to remember.”



    The magazine Scent Marketing Solutions reported last year that a study of Las Vegas slot players “showed they spent 45 percent more in a scented environment than those in an unscented one.”

    It boggles the heartstrings to think how much effort has been expended to ensure that what happens in Vegas happens GOOD.

    But if fragrance can have such a dramatic impact on your gambling behavior, think how else it might be used.



   Everywhere we go these days, the environments are enriched with olfactory spritzes that are intended to relax you, lower your inhibitions, make you lose track of time and increase your impulsivity. This is all a good thing, because it is in the service of capitalism, which is OUR WAY OF LIFE and must be buttressed, as Malcolm X would say, “by any means necessary.” So breathe it in, and do your duty: Buy!

The Aroma Wheel: Such a Magnificent Palette!

     “Flavors and fragrances enhance life,” according to the magazine Chemical and Engineering News. “A world with limited tastes and smells would be bleak and boring. As consumers clamor for more pleasing, more convenient, and more functional products, the flavor and fragrance industry ensures a constant infusion of new experiences to surprise and please the chemical senses, even as it grapples with price pressures and regulations.”



    We often use the term “hero” too readily, in Elderly Girl’s opinion, but these people -- who so humbly and anonymously labor to sprinkle our lives with coconut pudding and lilacs and spring rain -- they are heroes indeed. Thank you, gentlemen, for rescuing us from that “bleak and boring” reality and devoting yourselves to our psychological well-being.

    These thorough, conscientious scientists have gone so far as to provide us with scented drawer liners and jewelry beads, scented ink and nail polish, scented garbage bags and toilet paper (yeah, like that does any good!), scented tampons (WHY???) and condoms (that we understand), scented clothes, carpets and upholstery,  and even scented magic markers and kitty litter and SAND and FUEL ADDITIVES! These are aspects of our lives that used to provide no delight whatsoever.

    Even treadmills these days are equipped to blow fragrance right into your face, to "motivate" and "energize" you and to "accelerate your brain's production of endorphins."  



    They are making food scents to add to FOOD, so all that super-processed and denatured material that fills 90 percent of the grocery store will have the aroma of something that the good lord actually intended to be eaten.

    (One fragrance-industry executive admitted that they make the food "too appealing," thereby exacerbating the nation's obesity problem.)

    And when you are in that grocery store buying all that material that you have been cynically programmed to desire, perhaps you’ll notice the aroma of oatmeal chocolate-chip cookies being baked. If you ask some employee when they’ll be out of the oven, she'll  snort and say, “We don’t cook anything here! That’s the scent dispersant. Before long, you’ll be smelling pineapple upside-down cake!”



    Remember ancient times, when all we had to worry about was the “new car smell” that they sprayed into used cars? There was no Spicy Surrender in your bed! No cherry blossoms in your underpants! No Wacky Wisteria in your hair!

   Did you know that a line of scented flash memory sticks for your computer was launched this year by Maxell? This is such a cute concept! The USB port drives are available in Apple, Strawberry, Chocolate, Lemon, Orange and Mint.

The strawberry is rumored to damage one's professional credibility.

     Be careful which fragrance you choose, though. Lemon has been shown to make people more generous, and you don’t want to take that little impulse too far. Mint will keep you perked up and alert, but seriously, if you have a desk job, it might be preferable to be a bit zoned-out. If only they had a Cannabis scent, they’d be doing the workers of the world a big favor.



    Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Elderly Girl has gone from swooning delight to a deep unease over the palette of nasal sensations that fills her every waking hour and her sleeping hours as well.

   The blush -- so to speak -- is off the rose.

It smelled good at first, but they took it way too far.

    After this ongoing and ever-expanding immersion in the “Better Life Through Chemistry” spectacle -- this daily drenching in one fragrance after another and the eventual overlapping of them and that headache that comes from having anything -- whether it’s insults or bullets or perfumes -- shot at you from all directions without cessation, with no respite, with no refuge, and pretty soon all the orchid stuff, the passion flower or berry, whatever it was, the mountain mists and vanilla pastry, etc., it’s all smelling to Elderly Girl like CHEMICALS that are harsh and false and they HURT in your sinuses and behind your palate, your eyes start burning and there’s a bitterness when you inhale, but now where do you go and what do you buy to get out of this HELL HOLE? Because everything is perfumed, even the note paper you use to write your congressman.

Our noses are bound to go crazy at some point.


   Did you know that when you smell something, the source of that something -- whether it’s dog shit or d-ethyl biophoscrional-L reactopid -- enters your nose in the form of actual physical MOLECULES that attach to your cells and plunge into your lungs and blood, etc.?

    Scent is physical. It is pieces of stuff in the air! It’s very invasive. It goes everywhere in your body.

    Elderly Girl’s turkey baster, which she uses to irrigate her nasal passages with salt water, really can’t do much good, now, can it? We are helpless to escape the ubiquitous, ever-expanding onslaught.



    Elderly Girl is realizing that her fragrant life has been brought to her by stinkers -- power-mad chemists with planetary dominion as their goal (you should see what their journals are saying about “the conquest of China.”)

     Our sense of smell, as we have known for generations, is wired with extraordinary power into various regions of our brains. Fragrances vividly, immediately, and sometimes subconsciously evoke memories, stir emotions and incite behavior.

Everything we smell goes straight to powerful brain regions.

    In one study after another, they have been shown to affect our dreams, buying habits and interpersonal relations.



    Why not do something constructive with these profound insights, instead of trying to make our toilets smell like Marie Antoinette's boudoir or Fabio's earlobes? If scent is such a magnificent elicitor of memories -- as it has been proven time and time again to be -- why don't these chemists create an attractively packaged Alzheimer's kit -- a boxed set comprised of dozens of tiny bottles of real-life aromas? Think what this primal connection could incite in a demented mind. Think of the joy this would bring as a beloved old brain perked up, opened up, and HAD MEMORIES! We could snuggle up with our moms and dads and go through one vial after another, experiencing together the richness that their cerebrums still contain.It could be a beautiful thing -- much more worthwhile than putting hazelnut fragrance in Elderly Girl's toenail polish. 



    Instead of considering socially valuable outlets for their expertise, chemists are developing “scents that can’t be smelled” consciously but that have equally powerful impacts on the human brain.

    It sounds ominous, and it is. Not surprisingly, the primary funding for this research is coming from the Department of Defense and the NSA. But don't think for a minute that they won't use it on us if that's what it takes to keep the Powers that Be right where they are.

    If they aren‘t already, these globe-straddling fragrance firms will soon surely be plotting to turn us all into olfactory zombie-slaves.

    The revolution against this quietly menacing takeover is already brewing (there’s a scent for that).

    The thrill is gone.

    The kill is on.

    We scent-subdued prisoners of The Matrix need to get out those gas masks and wage a revolt.

    We will explore the burgeoning anti-fragrance movement in our next post, if the chemical-fragrance industry doesn’t succeed in neutralizing us with a scent that is our exact opposite, which would leave us with zero (they already know how to do it. Odor engineers have found many "odor pairs," i.e., smells that cancel each other. The smell of cedarwood, for instance, cancels the smell of rubber, leaving no smell at all. What smell might cancel Elderly Girl? For once, she has no opinion.)

    And by the way, isn’t it a little scary to think that the heir to a MASSIVE CHEMICAL COMPANY EMPIRE, Jon Huntsman, Jr., is aiming for the presidency? His daddy is probably working on some voting-booth scent as we speak.










    Elderly Girl was particularly proud of the fragrance industry when it agreed to formulate a soft drink for a Formula-one motor-racing team. They don’t back down from a noble challenge.

    "A fruity note would be too light,” a scientist at the global firm Givaudan mused. “I can see a lot of people interested in motor racing as being more likely to drink alcoholic beverages. Spicy would be my link to the sport. I would probably go for something based on ginger, possibly with some clove, for a fatty note to associate with the oil in motor racing."

   Brilliant! Does this not blow your mind?


    In Europe, according to a Givaudan consultant, a much-discussed idea is the scented cinema, in which odors related to screen images are released at the appropriate moment. For example, a scene in a coffee shop “would be accompanied by a coffee aroma enveloping the space.”

    Several years ago, Givaudan attempted a similar feat at the Lucerne Festival, an annual concert festival held in Lucerne, Switzerland. "The theme was seduction, and the organizers asked if we could contribute fragrance to one of the concert evenings," a corporate chemist explained. “Givaudan agreed to complement the evening designated Oriental Night, in which ‘Scheherazade’ by Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov would be performed. The music tells a story, and Givaudan selected scents to represent the principal characters.”

Everything went well, except for the scents of smell.

     It didn’t work too well, with the wind blowing one character’s scent full-frontally into the other (long before anything full-frontal was supposed to happen), but everyone agreed that scented entertainment would remain an “aspirational goal.”