josephine and the pheromone fête

image by indybev

When I first saw the headline of Amanda Hess’ article for Good “Sniffing Armpit Stains at a Pseudoscientific Singles ‘Pheromone Party'” I crinkled up, appropriately, my nose.

That image of a smiling woman holding up numbered baggies containing slept-in sweat-soaked t-shirts piqued my attention for all the wrong reasons, and the first lines of the article not only confirmed my reaction, but compelled me to read further:

“Last week, I bought a new white t-shirt, slept in it for three consecutive nights, sealed it in a Ziploc bag, then paid $30 to let several dozen men bury their faces in it and sniff my scent.”

Beyond the eww factor, the mere thought of so many pungent scents at once made me nauseous and prescient of a massive migraine.

Basically these bags full of stinky tees are like Sephora sniff strips for possible mates, and it turns out these parties are all the rage in LA and beyond. It makes perfect sense, I suppose. Napoleon often told his beloved Josephine not to bathe, for he loved her unadulterated and glorious natural parfum. Long ago women used to peel an apple or a pear and tuck it under their armpit, then wrap it in lace to present to their beloved. Perhaps this is where I should confess that I broke up with a rather sweet boy long ago because the scent of his sweat reminded me of rotten sardines. The compatibility of scent is critical for friends or lovers, or coworkers, roomates… the list goes on and on, at least for me.

Truly there is nothing more natural or sensual than allowing scent to do what it is meant to do: to move us, to repel us, to enhance or warn, to give pleasure or its opposite.

Maybe though, my nose crinkling was in part due to the fact that in my mind rather than being simply a cute theme for singles parties (which in itself is an odd concept for me since when I was single there was no such thing), it just reeked (pun fully intended) of commercialization and dumbification.

Perhaps I am over-thinking this, or I really am pissed that no one invited me to any singles parties when I was alone in the city,  but it seems to me that once again (and my thoughts go to that 50 degrees of grey slime book) a lovely concept is packaged to make it more palatable, more marketable, and in doing so it just becomes so very meh.

Call me paranoid, but there are over eighteen thousand googleable links for pheremone patents. I don’t want my attraction to someone controlled in the lab, sounds too much like a sci-fi YA movie.

Wait, it is… within the plot of The Cabin in the Woods, which opens in two days there is apparently a storyline where pheromone mist is used to control the characters’ libidos. Creepy. Google controls our minds and controlled pheromones our passions.

I don’t know why, but it reminded me of the passage in Seth Godin’s “Stop Stealing Dreams” in which he spoke of LEGO’s, and how once they began to sell pre-defined kits that had definitive rights and wrongs of their assemblage, they found even greater success.

“Why would these sell so many more copies? Because they match what parents expect and what kids have been trained to do.

There’s a right answer! The mom and the kid can both take pride in the kit, assembled. It’s done. Instructions were followed and results were attained.

LEGO isn’t the problem, but it is a symptom of something seriously amiss. We’re entering a revolution of ideas while producing a generation that wants instructions instead.”

The packaging of the t-shirts, the packaging of the LEGO’s…maybe that’s a stretch, but somehow they seem related. I like my LEGO’s randomly dumped on the floor in a big pile of color and shape, my scents wild and free and not bottled or bagged, thank you very much.

OK, I’d best stop now. This tangent is going awry. xox


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