Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Of Shoes, Bees, and Perfume

I went out of town this past weekend to visit my friend Marni, author of the awesome Awkward and upcoming September release, Decked with Holly. I came home with four more pairs of shoes than I left with. I don't know what it is about shoes and vacations with me, but I think over half my shoes have been purchased on vacation. It's as if, upon arrival, I immediately deem all my thoughtfully packed footwear options loathsome, inappropriate, unworthy.

I often have some ridiculous excuse, too. "Oh, is it raining? I didn't realize it would be raining in the Olympic Peninsula!" "Oh, is there walking required? I appear to have only packed heels and dress shoes." It's not like these trips are a surprise to me; I'm the one planning them. I think I will have to chalk it up to some sort of weird subconscious need for a fun setting to buy shoes in. I was certainly happy dancing around in the store in a pair of peep-toe pumps on Saturday before I bought them.

By contrast, I rarely buy perfume on vacation. I've only done it once or twice. I don't know why that is. In theory, I like the idea of buying perfume on vacation. I like the idea of associating a beautiful scent with a particular place and time. But then, when the vacation arrives, I never find myself hankering for a perfume store.

I think it has to do with my impulse to tie scents to certain kinds of weather. Let's face it: what I think works in sunny L.A. in July is not going to be a "go to" scent for me nine to ten months a year in Portland. Based on that premise, I'm always hesitant to buy a whole bottle that will take me years to get through if I'm not sure it works in my ordinary life, and not just in my vacation life.

Speaking of vacations, seasons, and perfume, here's a fun thing that happened this sunny Spring weekend. I was covered in beeeeeeeees!

Spring flowers!
So pretty. So deadly...
Okay, that's not really accurate. I was neither covered, nor was it fun. I was in beautiful Ashland, Oregon, sitting on a bench, minding my own beeswax when I got stung. This is not a big deal for normal people, but I have an allergy to bees/wasps/yellowjackets/hornets that required a trip to the local ER even after I used my epipen Saturday evening.

The worst past of this scenario was that the bee, after stinging me, would not leave me alone. It flew into my hair and I had to get Marni to fish it out so I wouldn't get stung again. Then, on Sunday, I was basically chased into my car by a second bee. I've been trying to figure out what I did, because I was in and out of doors unmolested most of the time, then other moments were positively fraught with peril.

Marni kept blaming my shampoo (which admittedly includes a strong honey base), but I wasn't stung or chased immediately after I washed my hair. FN1. Upon further reflection, I realized both my sting on Saturday and my near miss on Sunday almost immediately followed the application of perfume. Yep. Saturday I sprayed on Hermés Un Jardin en Méditerranée right before I went outside and got stung. On Sunday, DSH Perfumes Spring Moss was the attractor. I put some on, then went to my car to look for my keys and ended up cowering inside the vehicle until the bee gave up and buzzed away. FN2.
Exciting ER times were had!

This is an exceptionally troubling realization for me, dear reader. My allergy has progressed to the point that I really can't risk things like camping or hiking in places where it would take more than 15 minutes for an ambulance to get to me or for me to reach an ER. And while death by bee sting is not exactly the way I'm hoping to go, I love my perfume too much to give it up.

This is complicated by the fact that bees seem weirdly attracted to me (I've been stung 8-10 times over the last 26 years, which is a ridiculously high amount) and the college has decided to install bee hives in the quad outside the building where I live. For serious.  They have attached two hives to the building, one by each entrance. while I've pointed out (loudly and repeatedly) that I feel this is a negligence suit waiting to happen, I take little comfort in the notion that David will be well-compensated when the college accidentally kills me with its urban bee population support efforts.

So what's a bee-allergy-ridden perfumista to do, dear reader? Give up my juice, at least until we move? Demand a plastic bubble for all future out of doors adventures? Become a vampire and hide indoors during daylight? FN3. I don't relish any of these ideas, but I like them more than dying. Also, I have to go to work which requires leaving my apartment, so I don't know what to do about the bees outside my building.

Maybe I need to research the kinds of scents that are repellent to, or at least do not attract, bees, and then try to find perfumes that strongly feature those notes? I don't know. This is going to take some creative perfumey thinking. However, I feel I am up to the challenge. If anyone has any suggestions, please comment below.

FN1. Chased is an exaggeration. It feels like chasing. It's probably more like random bee meandering in my general direction, which makes my bee-related hypervigilance kick into high gear. I fear I have, at least temporarily, transferred said same hypervigilance to Marni.  Sorry, Marni.

FN2. The keys were later located in the trash, because all the medication from Saturday night still had me totally whacked out. 

FN3. This last option is particularly appealing to me for a number of reasons, but since I am already on a heavy daily dose of Vitamin D because of my lack of sunshine, it's probably not the best idea.


Anonymous said...

You poor, poor thing. I wonder whether citrus scents would protect you (since citronella candles are used for repelling flying bugs)?

My OH was stung once (as a young lad) and has been convinced that all winged things are after him since then; this is his excuse for lighting a cigarette as soon as he spots a winged insect outdoors, to smoke 'em out of an attack!

cheerio, and I wish you better soon,

Anna in Edinburgh

Olfacta said...

We have a zillion hornets and wasps around here, so I never wear anything with fig in it during summer, as they are attracted to figs. I'm generally careful about what I wear when I'm going to be outside -- no florals, no fruits! (Of course, a sting is just an inconvenience to me, not life-threatening.) I have heard that vetiver is a good insect repellent and had some experience with it in Alaska a few years ago, where it did seem to confuse the hordes of mosquitos there. I used Guerlain Vetiver, with its high citrus component, too. May be worth a try.