Who Is the Very Worst Person to Sit Near on a Plane?

by Sarah Miller
Originally Published: 

I don’t know what cologne the CDS was wearing. But it doesn’t matter, because anything that a human being puts on their body that anyone who is not nuzzling their neck can smell does not deserve to be referred to with a name.

I considered saying something to CDS. I thought a while about what the right words might be until I finally understood there were no right words. Because anyone who gets into a crowded and enclosed space and effectively dictates what everyone in a ten-foot radius is going to smell for the next six hours of their lives must be insane. Perhaps their insanity is a quiet one. Even friends and loved ones may be fooled. But make no mistake: A heavy wearer of cologne is almost certainly some kind of control freak, bordering on sadist.

I kept looking at the back of CDS’s head, hoping to get some kind of clue about why he got up this morning and doused himself with a very strong smelling substance and went out in public. I thought about whether I should make and give away T-shirts that said COLOGNE ROBS ME OF HAVING MY OWN PRIVATE EXPERIENCE OF BREATHING; or IF YOU’RE WEARING COLOGNE PLEASE GIVE EVERYONE, STARTING WITH ME, A WIDE BERTH; or maybe just something classic and simple, like COLOGNE in a circle with a line through it.

The cologne industry is pretty big. According to the market research company NPD Group, it earned almost one billion dollars in 2013. But 72 percent of adult male fragrance wearers started using fragrance when they were 17 years old or younger. So while it might be a long time before we can outlaw cologne (not to be confused with Outlaw Cologne) perhaps the answer is to start cologne awareness education in schools.

The good news is that 37 percent of American men never wear cologne. If you are reading this and you are one of them, please consider telling your friends and brothers and fathers who wear cologne that they are giving a lot of people headaches, and also, are possibly sociopaths. Also, I want to marry you, or at least sit behind you on a plane, or share an elevator, or walk by you on a summer day.

Photo: Henning Kaiser/AFP/Getty

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