One Thing’s for Sure… Love Stinks (Part Two)

After the Shirtstorm of ’99, I developed a new philosophy on smells. It had become clear to me that scents of any kind bring the sort of unwarranted attention that gets you sent home in some other kid’s ugly sweatshirt. I didn’t want to smell bad, but I also didn’t want to smell good. My main goal in life became smelling like nothing at all.

For more than a decade, I thought I was succeeding. No one ever asked me what kind of delicious perfume I was wearing and no one ever discreetly backed away from my foul stench. As long as I practiced basic hygiene, I was pretty sure I had achieved some kind of unscented nirvana, previously inhabited only by pure water and iocane powder.


You know when Vizzini sniffs it and says, “I smell nothing”? That’s how I want people to remember me.

Then I started dating Jordan. I don’t mean to get all mushy here, but…

Things Jordan Smells Like

– That guy smells like a cinnamon stick and a vanilla bean had a fancy baby that never poops and was baptized in the finest cologne.

– He smells like a dew-covered forest situated high atop a German mountain that’s full of manly trees, manlier flowers, and unicorns.

– He smells like a mild-mannered scientist who was in a freak accident that somehow inserted spearmint and honey into his genetic code and now his superpower is incapacitating villains with his scent alone and delivering them to the police station while they sit in a daze, awash with memories of sweet youth and sunshine.

– He smells like he might not like this list when he reads it later.

What I’m trying to say is, he smells so good that standing next to him for the first time made me immediately aware of my failings. I have not reached nirvana at all. I am so far from it that it’s actually pretty disgusting.

Things I Started Noticing

– My clothes smell like cheap laundry detergent, because that’s what I buy. Also, sometimes I run out of quarters for the dryer so I just lay the clothes out to dry, and maybe I’m being paranoid, but I think they smell a little mildewy. I’M A MILDEWY MONSTER.

– My body smells like a body and I can’t get it to stop. I can use all the soap and deodorant that money can buy, but at the end of the day I still smell like an anxious, sweaty little human who eats too many sandwiches.

– My car smells like Taco Bell. I’m torn on whether or not this is a bad thing.

– My apartment smells like the 1970s. And dinosaur ghosts.

Nanyangosaurus is the name given to a genus of...

Deodorant had not yet been invented at the time of their death.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that my relationship was the scent version of Beauty and the Beast, and I was not the pretty one. In my hour of need, I turned to my closest friend, the internet. As always, it was full of great advice. “Use a crystal! It’s not weird,” the internet said. “Stop eating peppers forever. Get a Botox injection in your sweat glands.” Let me make this clear: I’ll do anything for love, but I won’t do that. I needed a better solution, and that’s when AskMen recommended I find a signature scent.

The idea is to pick a scent you like and make it yours by surrounding yourself with it. Say you pick vanilla. Buy vanilla-scented soap, perfume or cologne and lotion! Put vanilla air fresheners in your car and home! Carry a lit vanilla candle with you everywhere you go! Steadily buy all the vanilla plantations in the world until no one on the planet can smell vanilla without thinking of you.

A trip to the store revealed that finding a signature scent I liked would not be as easy as I’d hoped. It turns out they don’t make those little pine tree air-fresheners in “old baseball mitt”, “wood stain”, or “1993 volvo that may be leaking fuel”.

I was resigning myself to a life of eternal stench when I saw something out of the corner of my eye: a pumpkin spice air freshener. This was it. In fall and winter, in spring and summer, I was going to smell like a spicy pumpkin. People would smell Jordan and me from a mile away. We would be the most beautiful-smelling couple in the history of the world.

Who are those people, and why do they smell so good?

Then the only problem I’ll have to solve is why I look like Hermey the Elf in this photo.

I went home, thrilled with the first purchase in my pumpkin spice empire, and plugged it into the wall. That’s when a horrible thing happened. The air freshener did its job. Way, way too well.

Things to Know About Plug In Air Fresheners

– They’re strong. Much like celery, plug in air fresheners will force their essence into everything good around them and ruin your life. Everything I own smells like pumpkin spice. I can smell it from outside my apartment. On the bright side, I saved on perfume.

– They do not fade. The package said the scent would level off after three days, but I’ve had mine for more than three weeks and it’s as strong as ever. A coworker asked if I’d been doing a lot of baking recently. One night around 10:30, Jordan told me I smelled like my air freshener. I had not been in the same building as the plug in since 7:45am.

– They probably won’t set your house on fire. Probably. The internet can’t make up its mind. The company says they won’t, but I bought renter’s insurance just in case. Now I’m worried it actually will catch on fire and everyone will be very suspicious of my new insurance policy.

I can’t get away from the smell. I wake up from pumpkin spice-scented dreams. It’s in my hair. It’s on my skin. It’s in my soul. I have to get rid of this scent if it’s the last thing I do. I’m not sure which one of us is going to start it, but there’s only one way this can end. It’s clear that I’m going to have to watch my home go up in pumpkin spice-scented flames.

Some air fresheners just want to watch the world burn.

Some air fresheners just want to watch the world burn.


  1. angelajardine

    You’re cookie … I like that. And by cookie I mean coooookie as in cute and funny … not as in studded with chocolate chips and crumbly.

    Ditch the pumpkin (what is it with you Americans and pumpkins?) – try a seashore flavoured freshener, preferably one that hasn’t suffered from an oil spill.

  2. Dave Furry

    Maybe one idea would be to start baking pumpkin pies, even if it makes the scent stronger, the huge bonus here is that you have pies! maybe there is a whipped cream plugin…

  3. Deepa

    There are worse things in life than smelling like a vegetable :-)
    On the bright side, you know have a signature scent for the price of a plugin diffuser!

  4. craftmanicmommy

    Once I had a guy tell me I smelled like a soap factory, too clean. Now I know I really do because I make soap! Also, I think my hubs smells like sugar cookies: luscious, scrumptious, manly cookies. And I don’t even like sugar cookies! I think a subtle, scent is always good and I don’t think I’ve ever met a subtle pumpkin spice. lol Good luck with that! Maybe start mixing in something earthy to mellow out the spice?

  5. shenanitim

    There’s only one flaw in your plan, and that’s pumpkin spice is a seasonal scent. So you’ll either have to stock up by the end of Fall, or else really ration them out to make them last.

  6. battlewagon13

    Guys like women to have a certain smell….so don’t change! If a guy falls in love with you and you smell like…well….YOU….then he’ll always want to come home to that same smell.

    Guys are a little bit like dogs in that aspect….except they don’t go around smelling each others butts all the time.

  7. shelldigger

    First, I love your sense of humor. Now, I am the kind of guy, that like you,(were?) is not a big fan of scent-ery. Most are way too overdone and intrude upon your conciousness and infiltrate your being, and once infected with the aroma, it is hard to get rid of.

    I do not know how many times I have walked into scent trails left by women, that almost knocked me down. Of course it doesn’t help being somewhat athsmatic. When I hit some of those scent trails, first it is usually to me some gawdawful stench that should not be marketed as perfume, and second my airways lock up and refuse to inhale for several minutes leaving me more light headed than usual. Thirdly, they are sometimes so strong that I still have the stench in my nose an hour or two later. I have also run into scent trails of men that reeked of musk so badly, they smell like they fell into a vat of the stuff. Just disgusting.

    I have also walked into peoples homes that are so stinked up with potpourri that I could only stand there for 2 minutes before I had to find an excuse to leave. The most important thing about scents people, use them sparingly!! Some of us do not have ironclad olfactory responses.

    For me personally, the only scents I will use are my antiperspirant (Old Spice regular, which is getting hard to find for some reason) sparingly, and when I shave the Edge Gel I use will have a mild lasting effect for a short while. Thats it, no after shave, no body spray, nuttin, zilch , nada. I am an advocate for less is better, well depending on the subject.

  8. Laura S.

    Hahaha, I had the same with Vanilla. Russ and I painted our apartment and I wanted the smell of wet paint to disappear so I bought an airfreshener. Let’s just say we both smell like Vanilla. All the time. It’s slowly wearing off. I can’t wait to smell like me again.

  9. emisformaker

    I can’t stand scent. Whenever I smell someone’s perfume or cologne, I start coughing loudly and obnoxiously so that they might know my displeasure at being surrounded by their petro-chemical fug. Most forms of artificial scent give me rather violent allergic reactions (what doesn’t?) that range from wheezing to incessant itching, so we only use unscented or naturally scented detergents, soaps and things. Also, I finally gave in and tried a deodorant crystal – essentially a big piece of salt that you wet and rub under your arms – and it is the only deodorant I’ve ever used that works for me, always. I still sweat like mad, but I don’t smell.

  10. brokenbelladonna

    Well I love perfume. I sadly own several thousands of dollars worth, from a misspent youth in college where I just wanted to smell pretty, ALL THE TIME. I have followed men around in public just to sniff them. My sense of smell is my favorite. So I say – go you! March forward into your pumpkin cloud and hold your head up high!

    But I have to ask – do people get hungry when you’re around? :D

  11. Albany Eden

    Funny! Then again if he’s with you it’s partially because of your pheromones (released in sweat if I’m not mistaken) so don’t fret! Like attracts like.

    When I was working in a boutique, this girl would come in all the time and she had the worst odor from terrible perfume. Each of her visits was nauseating. Then one day she left a dress at the counter for her boyfriend to come pay for. Low and behold, a man with equally dank cologne came in and before he opened his mouth, I already knew it was her boyfriend!

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