Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Afflicted or Affected?

Sometimes, the acknowledgment of having too many self-involved people in your midst can lead you to embrace a mode of behaviour that could be perceived as somewhat "bitchy". This is one of those times.

I know two individuals who claim to have a severe "allergy" to fragrance. Mind you, I am not discounting the existence of fragrance allergies, but what I am highly skeptical of is the appearance of this affliction whenever it's convenient for the affected individual to draw attention to herself. I have seen this happen too many times to consider it coincidence. In my view, it is most certainly an affectation brought to light at precisely the point when one or both of these individuals feels the overwhelming need to entice others to pay attention to her.

Let me point out that neither affected individual reads my blog. They are both aware that I blog, but cannot be bothered to support my efforts. One individual is a highly skilled professional; the other is a small business owner, whom I fear will eventually chase away 100% of her clientele with her "scent free environment" mandate (she owns a retail establishment), among other shortcomings. I feel that way because both claim a hyper-sensitivity not only to perfumes, but to scented personal hygiene products such as soap, shower gel and shampoo. Granted, I, too have been knocked back on my kiester on occasion, by a strongly scented something; Chanel No. 5 will chase me out of a room faster than a Democrat from a Tea Party gathering, but generally, it takes quite a lot to get my nose out of joint. Pun intended.

OK, so you're probably thinking I'm an insensitive bore, with no sympathy whatsoever for the plight of the afflicted. You couldn't be more wrong; I just happen to believe that a fragrance allergy, in most cases, is an affectation, rather than an affliction. Yes, I fully acknowledge that overdoing the eau can cause certain individuals serious discomfort. But, when I've managed to wear fragrances (and quite potent ones at that) around both these women, without either of them so much as sneezing, that is solid proof that this perceived "allergy" is nothing more than an attention-getting ploy. If a judge and jury of my peers were present right now, I'd have no problem placing my hand on the good book and offering sworn testimony to that effect. Oddly enough, I've never met a man who is hyper-sensitive to scent; mysteriously, this affliction only seems to hinder the female gender. Hmmm...

I am by no means an expert in psychology; nor do I feel qualified to identify someone as a hypochondriac. But, when you consider why women wear fragrance, or at least why they're told they should wear fragrance, the fragrance sensitivity issue seems to be an exclusively female one. Why? I believe most women feel fragrance is supposed to be an attention grabber. Glossy print advertisements tell you it should make you feel sexy; you'll have men falling all over you if you wear a certain scent. Boiled down, women scent themselves for men; well, theoretically. I don't buy that. Attention is attention, no matter from whom you get it. If your appearance and/or your scent are garnering attention, be it from the opposite sex or from other women in your group, there will be an element of resentment from those who are a bit more wallflower-ish. Yeah, well, that hypothesis doesn't really blow my skirt up either. So, what is it then?

A while back, I wrote about the Narcissism Pandemic I think we're in the midst of, because of an overinflated sense of importance that seems to be rampant in society. People have become so attached to their high-tech gadgetry, that if your mobile isn't consistently ringing, or you're not receiving at least 200 text messages a day, you're non-existent. Gadgetry isn't the only vehicle with which this can be achieved: you can feign illness from just about anything.

I just finished reading the novel The Falls, by Joyce Carol Oates, which takes place in Niagara Falls, New York, during the time when Love Canal was first discovered to be a toxic waste dump. The evidence was overwhelming, as we know, and many residents, including children, were irreparably harmed by the effects of living amidst the toxic sludge. Of course, the manufacturing and chemical sectors that were thriving in Niagara Falls at that time, denied their role in sickening the local population. It wasn't until the late 70s when former President Jimmy Carter was finally able to declare the area a federal disaster zone, but by then, the damage had already been done. Love Canal is only one example of how big business and politics can come together as a formidable obfuscating force. And, the end result is usually staggeringly detrimental. I'm not saying that my sensitive schnozzed acquaintances bear any resemblance to the people who were sickened by living near Love Canal; what I am saying is that there is a horrifying loss of perspective among humans, and there is a growing segment of the population that simply lives to complain. Why? Because like perfume, complaining has a way of garnering attention. Keep in mind, though, that the less attention you get (or the more attention you want), the more apt you are to complain. And, blaming someone else for what ails you is the "prime directive" by which the complainer lives. It's always someone else causing the grief, never the person who is seeking the attention. Making someone else feel badly will make the complainer feel good; and get noticed. Ultimately, those around the complainer will grow weary, and eventually, the complainer will find herself alone, devoid of anyone to whom she can voice her complaints.

To my two acquaintances specifically: quit beefing about your fragrance "allergies". I know you're never going to read this, but there are others who will. And while they may not know you personally, they know others like you, and will agree that your "affliction" is nothing more than a selfish "affectation" meant to draw attention to yourselves. Do them and me a favour: take a minute to think about whatever it is that's really bothering you. Look inward instead of outward, and try to figure it out without getting anyone else involved. You may begin to see the world change before your eyes, and realize, your own little corner of it really isn't that bad. If not, keep it to yourself; we really don't want to hear it.

In the meantime, I will continue to waft through life, whether you like it or not. One day, I might smell like the inside of a Roman Catholic church. The next day, Turkish Delight. The day after that, it may very well be pipe tobacco and stewed fruit. Instead of complaining, take a whiff; you might just like what you smell.


No comments:

Post a Comment