“Babe, please don’t make a scene,” I begged.
Kara coughed and waved a napkin in front of her face.
“I can barely breathe. It’s so strong I can smell it with my eyes,” she wheezed.
I smiled at the waitress as she walked past, glad that she didn’t stop to ask any questions.
Usually, when an aromatic offense has been committed, I’m willing to claim whatever culpability can’t be pinned on the dog, but in this case, my innocence was never in doubt. The perpetrators had just been seated in the booth directly behind us, three women who must have applied their perfume in the parking lot, using sponges borrowed from a softball team’s carwash. When I turned around to sneak a glance at the cause of the assault on our nostrils, I swear I actually saw shimmering plumes of perfume rising off of the women like heat off a desert highway.
Our friend Jim, sitting across the table from us, smiled and waited to see what entertainment might ensue.
On a normal day, Kara wouldn’t have made a fuss. But she’s four months pregnant now, so normal days don’t happen anymore.
If you’ve never spent time with a pregnant woman, you might not realize that they aren’t like regular people. Their noses have evolved to give them Super Scent Sensitivity and Enhanced Revulsion, perhaps the most useless superpowers of all.
The last time Kara was pregnant, we ventured out for a nice birthday dinner, and I made the mistake of applying a single squirt of cologne first.
“What’s that awful smell?” she said as we drove to the restaurant.
“I’m wearing the cologne you got me, the stuff you said I should wear more often,” I said.
“Don’t ever do that again,” she said, hanging her head out the window.
At lunch with me and Jim, though, she didn’t have the luxury of not keeping her head and arms within the vehicle at all times. She scanned the restaurant, looking for an escape. To protect the anonymity of the perfume-bathers, it’s probably best not to mention which restaurant we were dining in, except that when we there, we were family. Paying family.
Our drinks, salads and breadsticks had already been delivered, so moving to another table discreetly would have been impossible, and might have required a U-Haul. The tables around us were packed, anyway.
“Seriously, I think might be sick. I have to move,” Kara said, waving the air in front of her nose. I glanced behind me again, checking to see if the women had noticed the commotion. Fortunately, it didn’t seem that they had. We benefitted from the cover provided by the hairdo of the woman sitting closest to us, a perfect globe that would not have fit through a regulation basketball hoop.
All of a sudden, Kara had a brilliant idea, one that would just about solve the problem.
“Jim, will you switch sides with us?” she asked.
Jim, being a good sport who also happened to not be pregnant, agreed.
We slid our plates and drinks around and surreptitiously reseated ourselves.
“Ah, it’s better over here,” Kara said, and I agreed. The women, still involved in their own conversation, seemed none the wiser. Almost everyone was happy.
Jim’s eyes started to water. He seemed to be having difficulty breathing.
“I think this might be Chanel Number Infinity,” he whispered. We decided that a simple mathematical error might have caused a regular bottle of Chanel #5 to become Chanel^5. Whether this was Chanel to the Fifth Power or not, this was not a fragrance that was meant to be worn in any venue smaller than the Superdome.
In the end, we all survived, even Jim. And Kara and I won’t be surprised if our next baby is born smelling like Marilyn Monroe.
You can fail Mike Todd on his sniff test at firstname.lastname@example.org.