The lobby of Toronto's Roy Thomson Hall has a sign with large friendly letters requesting patrons be considerate of others when choosing to wear perfumes and after-shaves. I like that sign. It makes me feel protected. Yes, your own Caftan Woman is one of many who suffer from a chemical intolerance. I was comfortably ensconsed in my cozy balcony seat in said hall when the lady sitting behind me returned from intermission proclaiming: "And she was giving free samples away in the Ladies Room. I'm going to buy a whole bottle." Apparently signs with large friendly letters don't mean much to some people. Understanding management switched our seats to the roomy orchestra section. You might call it a perfect evening, if it weren't for the swelling tongue, itchy skin and watery eyes.
Many municipalities are reacting to the problem of physical reactions to scents by banning the use of colognes in public and government buildings. Many corporations bear it in mind for those dealing with the public. Unfortunately, the reaction among many aroma addicts is that the rest of us are being hysterical and arbitrary. A reaction similar to that expressed by a former co-worker: "Well, I'm sorry you don't like my perfume, but I have a perfect right to wear it." They don't seem to want to understand that it's not a question of liking, it's a question of breathing.
A little understanding is necessary for both sides. I'll continue to keep my Benedryl handy when I'm out and about, but the perfume purveyors have to be a little more considerate. Only then can the scent obsessed and the scent oppressed co-exist peacefully (because I promise you one of these days...).