Thursday, November 6, 2014

Sorry, Charlie! (more adventures in minimalism)

I got an email the other day from a colleague I admire.  She began the email this way:
I think you may have thought I was running away from you this morning
...because I was.
You're probably not aware of this (because I've never mentioned it to you before)...but there is a scent you sometimes use that I'm allergic to.  It's much worse for me in the morning and I was afraid that if I stuck around, I'd cough and sneeze in [someone's] class, so I rushed off to avoid that . . .
When I read this letter and saw the word "scent", my immediate reaction was about body stink.  With two teenage boys in the house, our family spends a heck of a lot of time managing BO.  My knee-jerk reflex was to think I'd bombed out on the shower department. Ewww.

But then I realized the problem wasn't insufficient hygiene; in fact it was the opposite.  The culprit was a bottle of perfume I'd bought several years ago.   I was a perfume perpetrator.  
Now, I've read in various places about people who are allergic to perfume.  For a long time, I've worn occasional perfume wondering whether I ought to just give it up.

But on the other hand, this particular bottle was a more than just a bottle.  In the way that the things we own sometimes take on extra meaning and begin to own us, this particular perfume bottle had become a memory:  a gleeful memory of finding it on sale at a super low price ($5, I think) and of buying enough for both me and my friend Kristie, a go-for-the-gusto friend of mine who passed away from cancer about 6 months after this particular perfume purchase.  So this bottle of perfume was a symbol also of living life exuberantly, of honoring my long-lost Diva of a friend.

Which, honestly, is pretty silly.  Because Kristie didn't want to make people sick; she wanted to make life a giant celebration of festivity.   And in the back of my mind, I'd known that my perfume habit made me into a walking allergy attack for unknown strangers -- and now I even knew the names of one of my victims.

So, my morning routine has gotten one step shorter.  The perfume is gone.  Sorry, Charlie.

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