I remember the days before deodorant was considered to be a universal necessity. A true Aussie Bloke would never have dared risk his bronzed manliness being called into question by attempting to cover up his natural odour in the 1970’s and consequently most of my childhood recollections of anywhere crowded in summertime involve trying to escape from the overwhelming stench of the “great unwashed”.
Eventually, men came to clearly understand that most women preferred them not to reek and tentatively applied ozone destroying pine scented sprays to offending underarms and some even splashed about “Brut 33” or “Old Spice” aftershave in case they encountered the fairer sex on the disco dance floor.
Today of course it is quite the reverse.
I boarded the busy train this morning and was almost bowled over by the overwhelming miasma of perfumed and deodorised bodies packed into the carriage. Imagine a boiling vat of rose scented oil into which someone has just thrown a bucket of fresh potpourri, sandalwood, limes, and all the spices of Asia and you will begin to understand why I found the effect somewhat overpowering.
I added my own scent to this “odour painting” in the form of the cocoanut beard balm and the “extreme sport” deodorant as well as some unidentifiable but undoubtedly very manly fragrance from my hair pomade. A teenager who smelt like bubble gum, but was not eating any, squeezed past; fat man to the right reminded one of a cigar box; a lady in a flowered dress conjured up cinnamon and chai lattes while another ancient Egypt. I think it was patchouli…I am not sure what patchouli is, but it sounds like something used in the embalming process.
I am sure all of the passengers were wearing things like “Poison”, “L’air du Strumpet”, “Chanel No 666” or “Corruption for Men”. Whatever they were, the combination was truly appalling and as the doors closed I felt the old terror coming back.
I cannot now think what is worse; this perfume saturated age or the one of the “great unwashed”.
Mind you, university students seem to still adhere to the principles of the “hippy generation” and I would not risk a trip into the tavern of my old Alma Mater on a 43 degree centigrade summer’s day under any circumstances.
In response to The Secret Keeper’s weekly writing prompt