There is no scent that I abhor more than the smell of patchouli. Not the odor of rotting garbage. Not the stench emitted by the NYC sewage system. Not even the repugnant aroma of a partially-mummified dead body (not that I would know first-hand what that might smell like). You know, I can't really pinpoint why it is exactly that I hate the smell of patchouli so much. I can say, with some certainty, that I know precisely when I decided that I simply could not tolerate the scent. I had a very close friend in my childhood with whom I spent a lot time - this included accompanying her on family vacations, many of which were spent at her grandmother's beach house. The grandmother in question always smelled strongly of patchouli, as did her house, her car, and pretty much anything that came within 5 feet of her at any point. It was then that I realized that patchouli and I could never have a lasting relationship.
It was later in life that I discovered that patchouli was often a favorite scent among the hippie crowd. And anyone who knows me, knows that hippies generally aren't my favorite group of people - it might be the unmaintained and dirty hair, it might be the lack of personal hygiene, it might be the fucking tie-dye, it might be the crusty Birkenstocks... who knows really? And come to think of it, the childhood friend's grandmother was a bit of a hippie - she wore her completely gray hair long and wavy and her wardrobe consisted mostly of multi-colored, floor-length skirts. An ex-boyfriend once told me that his sister, when going through her hippie phase (at Oberlin), wore patchouli, but ditched the fragrance (if you can even call it that) once she left her days of bare feet and peace signs behind her. My point here is that, in my mind, there is a direct correlation between the hippie set and patchouli, only furthering patchouli's bad reputation and cementing it's scent as putrid and vomit-inducing. Do you need any more evidence?
Don't think for a second that I'm exaggerating here. (I would NEVER do that!) How can I explain just how deeply my hatred for patchouli runs? Here's a good story: I once interned at a magazine where I always got free stuff. I went home every day with tons of make-up and bath and beauty products that were sent to the magazine by PR reps hoping to score an editorial mention. I hoarded this stuff and always managed to get the best and most swag. One day I went home with a bunch of bath products - lotions, body washes, soaps. Eager to try everything out, I used the body wash in the shower the next morning, right before I got on the train to go to Philadelphia. God knows how I managed to miss the fact that the whole lot was patchouli-scented. Obviously, I idiotically neglected to read the labels. What's worse, I didn't pick up on the scent while I was generously lathering up my body in the shower that morning. After a mad-dash to the train, I got comfy in my seat and prepared for the ride. It was then that the scent of patchouli engulfed me. I literally started to choke and cough - the odor was suffocating. I was scratching everywhere and leaving big red splotches all over my chest and arms. After the most uncomfortable of train rides, I had to race home and shower and even then, I was convinced I still hadn't completely shaken the scent. Talk about traumatizing experiences.
Anyway, point is patchouli smells fucking disgusting. I can't stand the smell - it literally causes an allergic reaction. Hippies wear it because the smell is overwhelmingly strong and can be used to disguise body odor and filth that has gone unchecked for weeks. Enough said.
7 years ago