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View Full Version : Honest question, now: why douse yourself in patchouli oil?


RickJay
05-13-2007, 03:18 PM
The other day Mrs. RickJay and I went to Indigo (a Canadian bookstore chain, like Borders.) As I was walking down the aisle I passed by a couple... well, no, I couldn't pass by them. I had to pass around them, because the stench of patchouli oil coming off them was so thick and pungent that it was almost visible to the eye. It was no less disgusting than if they had been sprayed by a skunk.

They did not appear homeless or poor, or unable to afford soap and water. They were not really old (old people lose their sense of smell and often don't realize how much perfume they're wearing.) They looked like an ordinary young couple - maybe a teensy bit on the granola-eating side, but not outrageously. But they smelled amazingly, almost deliberately rank. I can't imagine you could have been in an enclosed space with them.

This isn't the first time I have smelled people who apparently decided to smell awful by drenching themselves in patchouli oil. It's a very distinct scent and it smells pretty bad, but if you're weird and like it, gosh, why immerse yourself in it?

So an honest question: Why do so many people - and I've smelled a lot of them - deliberately make themselves smell horrible by dousing themselves in patchouli oil?

Baron Greenback
05-13-2007, 03:30 PM
I Was A Teenage Goth.

Back in the eighties, Goths of the female persuasion slapped patchouli about their person with reckless abandon. It certainly wasn't to cover up body odour, perhaps to mask the smell of smoke (hash, maybe)?

Auntbeast
05-13-2007, 03:33 PM
I think that Patchouli must smell different to them than it does to those that find it repellent. My husband and I despise each others favorite fragrances. Heck, he got this body wash stuff that for all the world to me smells like rancid cat piss. I mean it is FUNKY. Nasty! Obviously, it doesn't smell like rancid cat piss to HIM (I hope).

Patchouli is a very, very strong scent and it doesn't fade away very easily. I think if you were to douse yourself in the same amount of something else, it would not smell as strong.

I know this is General Questions and I haven't given you any facts at all. But it does strike me similar to people who like cilantro and people who don't. I prefer to think of it like they don't know how offensive it is to some people, rather than thinking they prefer to be so overwhelmingly repulsive that by sheer smell alone, they can offend.

Tuckerfan
05-13-2007, 04:16 PM
Standing 100 feet away or so, where you can only get a faint wiff of the stuff, it doesn't smell bad at all. It's when the person has thoroughly bathed themselves in it that it becomes foul smelling.

Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor
05-13-2007, 05:15 PM
Perhaps they were carrying a bottle of it, & the bottle broke.

They may have just tried to bluff their way through the remainder of the shopping trip.

Kneepants Erasmus, the Humanist
05-13-2007, 06:27 PM
Just an opinion, maybe unwanted in GQ......but I love the smell of patchouli. I've got a lotion I wear all of the time. Too much of anything, though, is no good.

Oh, and I guess I also would be a bit on the "granola-eating side".

Moirai
05-13-2007, 07:30 PM
Struan nailed it. Patchouli was always used back in the day as the primo coverup for the smell of pot and hash.

henrijohns
05-13-2007, 08:47 PM
And it was never effective for that, since it would get noticed faster that the actual smoke.

capybara
05-13-2007, 09:54 PM
Is it that different from the regular/square/norm women and men who really like their perfume/ cologne and have no idea how strong it smells? I think once people start wearing a scent a lot they stop noticing it, and add more until they can smell themselves again and its a vicious cycle (god, some college boys on a Friday night ready to head to the clubs? Smell like 60-year-old women, I swear. Yeah, an "Axe" through my nostrils! You go, swinger!).

Then they sit next to you on the plane and your eyes water.

Auntbeast
05-13-2007, 09:56 PM
Then they sit next to you on the plane and your eyes water.

Consider yourself fortunate, I spend the next 24 or so hours with an intense headache, stuffed up sinuses, unable to think, nauseated and confined to bed.

But hey, it's a free country, they can incapacitate me if they want to.

RickJay
05-13-2007, 10:57 PM
Is it that different from the regular/square/norm women and men who really like their perfume/ cologne and have no idea how strong it smells?
Very much so. I'm as bothered as anyone by people who pour on the Axe and Chanel No. 5, but again, that's usually either

1. Old people, who just don't realize what they're doing, and
2. People who put on a bit too much.

The patchouli thing, though... I mean, it was incredible. You really had to be there to appreciate the overpowering nature of it; it was worse, much worse, than any Drakkar Noir offender I've ever smelled in the worst bar. And the effect was not to overpower with a perfumey smell, but to give the olfactory impression of filth and rot. Honestly, this was a big bookstore - it's like a Borders, gotta be 4000 square feet - and the smell occupied half the store. And this isn't the first time I've had this experience.

I KNOW why people overdo it with Axe and Drakker Noir and whatnot; usually they're old coots with no sense of smell, or they're drunk. But the patchouli oil. Why? I'd rather smell pot.

Zabali_Clawbane
05-13-2007, 11:47 PM
<snip>
The patchouli thing, though... I mean, it was incredible. You really had to be there to appreciate the overpowering nature of it; it was worse, much worse, than any Drakkar Noir offender I've ever smelled in the worst bar.<snip> Honestly, this was a big bookstore - it's like a Borders, gotta be 4000 square feet - and the smell occupied half the store. And this isn't the first time I've had this experience.

Exclamation is that bad for me, so maybe it's that you dislike patchouli that much? :confused: I can smell a person wearing Exclamation at the entrance of a large store, and they can be at a far end of it. I get a headache and my nose imitates a faucet from it.

capybara
05-14-2007, 12:04 AM
Trust me:I lived in Eugene for 2 years. I know overpowering patchoulli. I'd rather have that than the plonk-fumes from Macy's in the room.

exastris
05-14-2007, 02:46 AM
I wear patchouli. I can tell you, getting the balance right between wearing enough so that you can still smell it on yourself and not wearing so much as to kill nearby plants is difficult. My nose gets accustomed to it very quickly (I mean within minutes of putting it on), then I get random whiffs of it throughout the day. It's very easy to see how someone can continue to put more on, thinking that it has worn off, rather than realizing their nose has become saturated. IMO, that is the issue.

FWIW, I try to remember this and only put a dab on. Just once in the morning, no more. I promise. It wasn't me. Really.

Rigamarole
05-14-2007, 02:52 AM
To be rebellious? The stuff is pretty synonymous with the idea of "hippies", and some people find that notion romantic.

Aangelica
05-14-2007, 10:55 PM
Patchouli is weird.

For starters, it is the single most fabric-persistent fragrance I've ever run across. I've actually washed garments that had patchouli on them - as in sent them through a full wash cycle with detergent, bleach, dryer sheets and all - that still had the scent on them when they came out of the dryer. I had a roommate in college who favored patchouli (over my objections - mostly because I'm allergic to most perfumes and aromas), and when we broke household at graduation, I eventually had to throw away the soft furniature. The smell would not come out.

Also, as exastris mentioned, it's an aroma that "fades out" of your notice quite quickly if you're wearing it (and like the aroma). Like the phenomena you get with a person who wears the same perfume all the time - it takes more and more quantity for them to realize the same sensory feedback, so after a while they're marinating in it and to themselves still smell like it's barely there. Patchouli (at least in my experience of people who prefer it) is on a vastly more accelerated desensitization for people who wear it.

So my hypothesis is that your couple in the bookstore were habitual wearers who had it sunk into their clothing, and probably thought they had only a light scenting of it on them.

Don't fight the hypothetical
05-14-2007, 11:26 PM
Patchouli is weird.
Agreed. I came here to make a joke about HAI KARATE only to discover it has it's own Wiki page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hai_Karate). Other than that, I got nothin'.

RickJay
05-16-2007, 04:39 PM
Exclamation is that bad for me, so maybe it's that you dislike patchouli that much?
I'd guess that might be true - and it's certainly the case that some people pick up some smells more than others - except that there were dozens of people in the store and anyone who came within ten yards of these people were visibly disgusted and had to walk away. It wasn't just me.

El Cid Viscoso
05-16-2007, 05:03 PM
The thing is, in my experience sweat makes patchouli quite volatile. Perhaps the people in the bookstore were hot or distressed in some way? Was it a sexy aisle you were perusing? ;)

I wear it but I don't douse myself in it. I wear it because, among other things, even after a day in the pastures and I'm fonky as hell, she'll bury her face in my neck and snort me like a line of freaking cocaine.

Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor
05-16-2007, 05:35 PM
Could the bookstore have been selling patchouli oils, candles or incense?

:dubious:

Backwater Under_Duck
05-16-2007, 07:04 PM
My nostrils flaired at the scent of his perfume. Pyramid Patchouli. There was only one joker in L.A. sensitive enough to wear that scent.
And I had to find out who he was.

Good afternoon, Mr..... Danger.
I'm Rocky Roccoco.

Thanks, half-pint. You've just saved me a lot of investigative work.

:cool:

DustyButt
05-17-2007, 09:29 AM
Struan nailed it. Patchouli was always used back in the day as the primo coverup for the smell of pot and hash.


Exactly. I hate to generalize, but it's always been an indicator of somebody who smokes trees, and I haven't been wrong yet. Seriously!

I've never told anyone, but it's something I always take note of.

Ahhh! Now for the part where I wait patiently for protest and dethroning of a generalization that's been literaly 100% effective for 20+ years.

Just for the record, I could care less if somebody wants to burn. I just take mental notes when I meet folks.

Oh, and I almost forgot... I really, really HATE patchouli oil.

Rub yourself in peanut butter and you'll get a much better response from me! :D

devilsknew
05-17-2007, 02:16 PM
Exactly. I hate to generalize, but it's always been an indicator of somebody who smokes trees, and I haven't been wrong yet. Seriously!

I've never told anyone, but it's something I always take note of.

Ahhh! Now for the part where I wait patiently for protest and dethroning of a generalization that's been literaly 100% effective for 20+ years.

Just for the record, I could care less if somebody wants to burn. I just take mental notes when I meet folks.

Oh, and I almost forgot... I really, really HATE patchouli oil.

Rub yourself in peanut butter and you'll get a much better response from me! :D

This is the freakin' problem. I love the scent of patchouli and I'd wear it, but its stigma prevents me. Rightly or wrongly, I'd be pigeonholed as a hippie pothead, trippin daisy, no-good commie faster than you could say shibboleth.

The one exception to this box is Indian (Asian) men and and women who I have noticed in shops and other public places who sometimes smell quite pleasantly of patchouli. I'm pretty sure most of them didn't smoke pot, but I could be wrong.

In fact,when I was a teenager, the first time I smelled patchouli was trailing a beautiful Indian woman wearing a sari in a shop. I followed her around that store like a puppy dog, intoxicated with this new and heavenly scent. It wasn't until a few years later that I discovered what that scent was in a record store/head shop.

It's a shame I can't wear it for fear.

emelliott71
09-13-2017, 10:59 PM
I am a dialysis patients. Today I started at a new clinic. The nurse there was very nice. We had to go over all of my medical history. We discussed migraines. She asked my triggers and I told her a few of them. I kept smelling incense and it seemed to permiate the whole clinic. So I asked about it and she told me that it was probably her because she mixes her own scent with patchouli, sandalwood, musk etc. I felt really bad to have to tell her that these scents, especially patchouli were triggers. I couldn't stay for my whole treatment because I needed to get to my neurologist to get an emergency pain shot. I will be in bed for two days with this one. I guess the patchouli lovers don't know they stink. Maybe the scent of lilacs and roses offends her.

anomalous1
09-13-2017, 11:18 PM
I think it stinks, its not a pleasant smell. I avoid going to Trader Joe's for this reason. Every. Single. Time. somebody decided "well I'm going to jump into this barrel of patchouli oil and then go buy some non-gmo twinkie alternatives". It is everywhere, I am unfortunately privied to it about once a week and every time, it makes me angry. It is always someone with flannel and skinny jeans or "hippie" types that wear this stuff. Occasionally an older person, which is acceptable IMO, they've earned the right to do whatever the hell they want.

Hilarity N. Suze
09-13-2017, 11:38 PM
That's very strange. When I worked for a hospital, use of scents was discouraged, even for us non-public-facing employees. I think all the patient care people were strictly forbidden from wearing scents at work.

Hell, I worked as a waitress, too (not at a hospital), and it was forbidden for us, too. It wasn't even a particularly high end place. But nurses? Yeah, they need a policy.

Colibri
09-13-2017, 11:48 PM
Moved to IMHO. Note that this thread was started 10 years ago.

Colibri
General Questions Moderator

Turble
09-14-2017, 11:54 AM
Some relevant anecdotes to the zombie:

I once got accidentally overloaded with patchouli. Late 1960s, a visitor spilled my bottle of patchouli on the bathroom counter, wiped it up somewhat, and didn’t say anything – I later grabbed my comb and pulled it through my very long hair a few times before realizing something was wrong … the comb was soaked with patchouli oil. It took several days of multiple shampooing every day for the smell to subside.

In those days I did use patchouli oil; put one drop inside the waistband of jeans and one drop on the inside of that strip of cloth down the front of a shirt where the buttons are, then launder normally – that’s how you get the classic hippy cloud of scent without overdoing it.

These days I use patchouli scented deodorant and shaving cream from Kiss My Face.

QuickSilver
09-14-2017, 12:40 PM
Patchouli hippie zombies are the worst.

Ukulele Ike
09-14-2017, 12:48 PM
Zombies use patchouli to mask the smell of their decaying flesh. Effective!

Muffin
09-14-2017, 01:07 PM
Zombies? Sound like a job for Super Stinkor! (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Masters_of_the_Universe_characters#Stinkor)Stinkor[edit]
Stinkor is an anthropomorphic skunk with magical control over his own stench.[22] His action figure used the same mold as Mer-Man, wore the same mold of armor as Mekaneck, and actually smelled of patchouli oil, one of only three scented toys Mattel produced (the others being Moss Man and also Perfuma from the She-Ra line).[4]

Guinastasia
09-15-2017, 12:13 AM
I don't think I've ever smelled patchouli, at least without knowing exactly what it was. And now I'm curious.

BobBitchin'
09-15-2017, 02:42 AM
I don't think I've ever smelled patchouli, at least without knowing exactly what it was. And now I'm curious.

I'm in the same boat. I've heard about it but never had the scent provided by name so I could know what it is.

But, I did work at a motorcycle dealership in the PNW and a guy came in and smelled like my pet rats dirty cage. I'd say it was a mix of Aspen chips (bedding) and animal piss(ammonia).

Several people have assured me it was patchouli.

As an aside, I love the smell of old spice. My dad used the deodorant and aftershave, it's what a fresh clean man smells like.

Both of my wives hated it, said it was like foolin around with their dad.:smack:
(I quit wearing it for my first wife, second wife won't let me go back)

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