Cologne as A Deadly Weapon
When Short Flights Seem So Very Long
I was tired. I had been traveling for about 24 hours, beginning at about 11:30 p.m.
My international flight was slow arriving home, customs was under-staffed, and they had closed the doors when I arrived. It was one of those times where the plane is still at the gate, taunting you.
I gazed longingly at it sitting there, for what seemed to be an interminable amount of time, then re-booked for a flight five hours later. My plane was still sitting there after I re-booked.
I felt pretty horrible. The lack of sleep was catching up with me, and I was disappointed I would arrive home five hours later than planned. Once I got to my home airport, I had to take a shuttle to the nearby hotel where I had parked my car and drive over an hour to get home. But what do you do? This state of constant inconvenience is a constant in travel in America today. We are surprised when it doesn’t happen.
I positioned myself at my gate (Dulles Airport is not my favorite), drank a bottle of Gatorade (hoping it would make me feel a bit more like myself), and greedily took over the charging station that was all mine in what was at that moment my private gate.
The clock ticked slowly, but soon it was time to board.
It was a small plane. I have no idea which one, for those of you for whom that matters. All I know is that the airline checked everything over the size of a standard backpack at the gate because the overhead bins couldn’t support them.
I found my seat quickly. It wasn’t too difficult when there were so few. I had the aisle. No one was at the window.
Then he showed up — my seatmate. A guy beautifully dressed. Dressed much better than me. He appeared nice. He stowed his Dolce and Gabanna shopping bag overhead and put his backpack under the seat in front of him. I retook my seat and buckled in.
It was then that I smelled it — his cologne. I don’t know what it was, but I am sure that it was probably expensive. You know how some scents don’t go well with a person’s body chemistry? This scent was an example. He had applied it liberally.
Too liberally. I sat there, unable to breathe. I can sometimes be sensitive to smells, but when I am tired, it gets much worse.
“ Why didn’t you ask to change seats?” you ask.
Because he was nice, I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. I am a good Southern woman. Hurting feelings of nice people is one of the worse possible sins — a direct ticket to hell. We suffer in silence instead. (Note that I am not always a good Southern woman. Just when I’m tired.)
The flight was short, from Washington D.C. to Charlotte, NC. Yet an eternity. I tried all kinds of breathing exercises. I tried holding my breath — short breaths in, long breaths out.
I tried to focus on other things. My game plan once the plane landed. Playing a game on my iPad. Reading a book. Counting.
I started to devise a plan for using cologne as a chemical weapon. We’d find out what kind this guy used, and it would be a great start.
Then I started wondering whether he had someone in his life who would tell him the truth. That too much sometimes is not a good thing. And that some scents don’t work for you. Even if they are expensive.
I was not going to be that person.
He appeared to be a businessman. I thought about having to sit next to him at an all-day meeting. Even more torturous than the all-day meeting itself.
The plane finally landed. I was up as soon as the seat belt sign went off. Everyone else was joking about everyone standing up so quickly. I always stand up quickly because I tend to be claustrophobic when others are standing up over me, but I couldn’t share the real reason I was standing up. I had to be off that plane and away from Cologne Man.
In retrospect, it may have been a good thing for him to have his sense of smell overtaken by his artificial scent. I had been traveling for over 25 hours at that time. I wasn’t wearing cologne, but my scent just may have been worse.
But as bad as it may have been, probably not.
My advice. Keep the cologne off the plane. When you do apply it, maybe find a very critical friend to check out whether you may use too much.
If you know a Cologne Guy (or Gal), perhaps you can help save the world by buying them a nice soft scent for Christmas. And be sure to tell them a little goes a long way.