Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Sick Scents

Something has happened to my sniffer.

Not in the way LA Daddy can't smell or taste anything (I can't even imagine). What I'm talking about is actually the opposite problem... hypersensitivity to certain smells - specifically cleaning agents and perfumes.

The single biggest offender by far (that I'm aware of) is a product called Goof Off. All someone has to do is simply pop the top open in the other side of the house and I'll instantly get a headache. Other kitchen type chemicals cause headaches too, but not so quickly.

I don't know exactly when it started, but it's been getting worse over the last 10 years or so. In fact as a kid, I actually remember riding in our car with my dad and my brothers when we would go on snowmobile outings. My dad would load up the trunk with spare gas cans and our car would wreak of fumes - AND I LIKED IT!

And later when I was playing on the road, it didn't bother me that I used to practically bathe in cologne - although sometimes it had a different adverse effect. For example, one time our guitar player and I were on break and decided to grab a drink. We were both doused in Polo at the time when we saddled up to the bar next to a particularly burly looking guy. All of a sudden he spun around on his stool and screamed, "Sonofabitch, it smells like a g*ddamn French poodle around here!!!"

The biggest challenge of course is trying to enforce the no-scent policy at work. So far, I haven't come up with a subtle way to tell someone their perfume is making me sick without it sounding like, "Ahem, excuse me... but you smell like toxic waste."

If I was to guess, I'd say my sensitivity to odors is probably related to years of inhaling smoke in all the millions of nightclubs I've performed in. As a harmonica player, I have to inhale exclusively through my nostrils since my mouth is kinda busy while I'm playing. And, since I play harp on about 1/2 of our songs, I'd say it's like smoking an entire pack of cigarettes through my nose in one night. Currently Minnesota is about 1 vote away from becoming completely smoke-free. If this happens, it will be the single biggest bonus to my music career in the last 20 years.

But the most embarrassing result of my neurotic nose was one day at my office when I could smell that someone had been overusing a cleaning product - because (to me) the office wreaked of it, and it was starting to give me a headache. And so I followed the offensive odor up to a coworker's desk and asked her if she wouldn't mind not using Windex to clean her work area. After denying that she was using anything, she asked me what I thought I was smelling. "Oh, I'm sure it's Windex," I said. "I would recognize that awful smell anywhere."

That's when she opened up her purse and realized that her favorite perfume had been leaking in there.

See that would have been a good time to have LA Daddy's broken sniffer. Because not only wouldn't I have smelled the imaginary Windex, but I also wouldn't have been able to taste the size 11 shoe I had stuffed in my mouth.


Anonymous said...

I can't stand the smell of bleach. It makes my eyes burn. Cleaning products are too intense for me.

Heather said...

So how does shoe taste anyway?

I can't stand to be in smoky places anymore. When we travel out of our county (which is smoke-free indoors) I notice as soon as we step inside the restaurant that there is smoking allowed.

deborah said...

boy can i ever relate! my husband relates my nose to a bloodhound. it's particularly bad being a migraneur, when it triggers the migraine. one day it can be something i like, and the next - i;m doomed. i can smell things that arent there, or way before anyone else around here.

yoo hoo said...

...more importantly, how do those shoes smell?

Anonymous said...

How do you do in bathrooms?

Mom Thumb said...

There are some condominiums next to the golf course. On hole #6, I smell dryer sheets, on #9, Pine Sol. On #10, it's just plain old cow manure.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, if someone has on too much cologne -- I can't smell it, but I get a headache. And, it feels like I'm chewing on aluminum foil. It's a horrible feeling.

Anonymous said...


My dad's a professional musician.

My grandfather was a professional musician.

Both got cancer.

My husband is a scientist by day and a musician at night.

I SO look forward to smoking bans.

wayabetty said...

Here here to a smoking ban! I'm so glad they did that in all restaurants in MASS.

I have a very sensitive nose as well, especially now that I'm pregnant. And I can't stand people who douse themselves with cologne. Take a bath for crying out loud!

Bonvallet said...

I hate feeling like I've got a nose like a rottweiler when it comes to perfumes, cleaners, and air freshners. I can almost taste it at times, the smell is so strong.

Hey, on a different subject, do you sell any CD's of your harmonica playing? My father's choice of instrument was the harmonica and I loved it!

Jeff and Charli Lee said...

stacey - Funny, that's the excuse I always use when my wife asks me to help clean the house.

heather - Shoe tastes a little leathery.

deborah - I was thinking of you the whole time I was writing this and thinking that I really had no right to complain.

carla - better than Goof Off!

bill - Not bad, as long as I don't follow you. Ha!

mom thumb - I guess that's par for the course huh?

l.a. daddy - Nice. So if I want to experience what you're going through, I should chew on foil? No thank you!

stephanie - Ok, I don't think I like that whole "both got cancer" thing. Go smoking ban!!!

betty - Yeah that's weird. I used to love cologne when I was young and dating, and now it burns my nose. Must be nature's way of filtering out the married people.

wickwire - Not yet - but it's coming. We're planning on going in the studio this summer. In the meantime, you can download my blues tune "Blues Don't Get Off at Night" from my sidebar under My Music Downloads. Thanks for asking!

Kal said...

I used to work in restaurants, pre-smoking ban, and would come home reeking of a miasma of smoke, grease, old food and whatnot.

I smell much better now (except for when I run out of deodorant and have to use the 12 year old emergency Speed Stick. Man I hate Speed Stick..)

Sandy said...

Was there any chance that perfume was Eau de Windex?

My husband has olfactory issues too. To this day, he complains of a trip we took to Mackinac Island, Michigan, because of the fudge smells (which the place is famous for). It made him feel physically sick, and he claimed that he smelled it for weeks afterward.

I don't know...I can think of worse things to smell.

Jeff and Charli Lee said...

kal - Congratulations on using a word I've never heard before. I had to look up miasma. You win the word of the day contest!

sandy - They say that smell is the strongest "memory sense". To this day if I smell goldenrod, I'm instantly transported back to my grade school playground.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of new words--you mean you knew what Sandy said when she said her husband had olfactory issues? I've never heard that one before, either, along with miasma. They say you learn something new every day--today I learned TWO new words!!!!!

yellojkt said...

Think of the money you could make rebottling Windex and selling it as perfume.

Jess Riley said...

I wish Wisconsin would go smoke-free. I'd resume my tavern-hopping habit in a heartbeat. (Kidding. Who can afford that?)

I kind of like the smell of skunk. This really puts me in the minority of all Americans, I think.

Anonymous said...

Right after they ban cigarettes,
vanilla scented candles have to go.