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Question about perfume.

I'm sitting here at my sons Karate School waiting for my son. A women just walked in smelling like she bathed in coconut milk. I just about gagged on the smell.

My question is, can/do restaurants refuse women from entering, because they smell like someone poured a bottle of perfume over their heads? On several occasions, my family and I have been eating, and the waiter brings a couple to the table next to us and the smell is impossible. I put down my knife and fork and tell the waiter, " thats it, I lost my appetite. I can't stand the smell." And naturally, nothing is done about it. If thats the way they treat a customer, then they loose a tip.
What can be done about this? Complain to the management?

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    1. In some cases I suppose you could ask for a change of seat/table but unless you plan to avoid a percentage of the human race because they happen to enjoy what you find offensive....there is always take out.

      41 Replies
      1. re: HillJ

        Hill, I'm surprised. Are you honestly endorsing the notion that when someone enjoys an act that is offensive to others, it must always be tolerated by society? Does that mean that we should tolerate all offensive acts while in restaurants? Obnoxious drunkenness? Horrendous body odor? Screaming children? Repeated flash photography? It seems to me, as well as centuries of Anglo-American jurisprudence that one's right to enjoy something is limited by its deleterious impact on its surroundings.

        To the OP - It's a terrible situation and you have a right to ask to be moved. It will at least alert the staff to avoid seating others near the stench. Politely explain the situation and settle the tab if you must leave, but don't stiff the server who was likely not responsible for the positioning of olfactory poisoner.

        Although I would think it unlikely that the vast majority of establishments would turn someone away, I do think that more polished FOH staff would seat such a patron away from as many others as possible. In my own mind, anyone who cannot discern their overuse of perfume probably cannot discern any subtlety in fine food. A restaurant is likely advantaged by minimizing the offense to as many patrons as possible.

        1. re: MGZ

          Do you live in some special bubble I need to go purchase, MGZ. Tolerance, last I checked, was a civil way to go thru life unless you enjoy finding the un-joy in every act. The perfumed body of a man or woman...um yes, it's a fact of life. Behavior such as you included is going to be dealt with by the management or police. Perfume is..what for it... legal....no matter how much it may offend.

          1. re: HillJ

            I suppose I just fail to see a way to differentiate between excessive perfume and excessive body odor. Each is equally offensive to the dining pleasure of those within noseshot and each should be within the discretion of the management to do something about. We're not talking about an appropriate dab, but something more. Let's be honest, not all scents are intended for all people and the bottles they come in are meant to last more than one application.

            1. re: MGZ

              I'm not arguing that these odors can be offensive, MGZ. But - people wear these scents for a number of reasons and may have no idea they are over doing it. I could draw upon my own pet peeves (like folks who blare their tunes loud enuf that I can hear it thru the car with closed windows while they eat at the beach and I LOVE music) but it's pointless. YMMV, but such is life.

              1. re: MGZ

                Let's be honest, not all scents are intended for all people and the bottles they come in are meant to last more than one application.

                ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                btw, I loved this remark....because enjoying a good bottle of red wine...well, count on that being one application!

                1. re: HillJ

                  "because enjoying a good bottle of red wine...well, count on that being one application!"

                  Otherwise, you have to finish it in the morning!

                  I endorse tolerance in suggesting that it is most appropriate to ask to be moved. Nevertheless, I do think an establishment has the right to isolate one patron so as to avoid alienating several. Perhaps a good hostess might employ a bit of a sniff test?

                  1. re: MGZ

                    Um, some of the offenders in my experience have been hostess/waitstaff...so, maybe...just maybe :) .... this is why the sniff test fails.

                    Often used to camouflage "other" offending odors, perfume/cologne is just one of those things (imho) that has no easy solution.

                    1. re: HillJ

                      Agreed - overcologned servers, or worse, bartenders, should be taken outback and shot (or at least hosed down!)

                      1. re: MGZ

                        Hardly and even if you're kidding MGZ, you dilute the point with such words.

                        I am also reminded of the # of restaurants, clubs, etc that provide scents in the restrooms for customers to use. Therfore, hardly a deterrent from even the casual user.

                        The point about smokers is also valid....so, there is no quick fix on these peeves except personal choice...and drama, ain't the answer.

                        1. re: HillJ

                          Clearly I'm kidding, but there is a reason that fine dining establishments routinely prohibit staff from wearing perfume/cologne.

                          1. re: MGZ

                            while others offering it in the restrooms.

                            1. re: HillJ

                              Yes, for an occasional, discreet application - not to baste oneself with. This isn't pre-Revolutionary France after all.

                              At bottom, I simply see no reason why if there is an unsettling scent emanating from someone seated close by, be it from BO, VO, or Polo, a diner should hesitate to be moved away from its source.

                              1. re: MGZ

                                Hmmm...maybe the folks offering to spray you in the fragrance section of Macy's should speak with you....right here in the good ole USofA.

                2. re: MGZ

                  <<Let's be honest, not all scents are intended for all people and the bottles they come in are meant to last more than one application.>>

                  Well stated.subtlety too often goes completely over the head of too many.

                  From a turn-of-the-century (previous century) French journal - " A lady should spray a small, fine mist of perfume into the air, and then walk into it.... " Maybe some should learn from that.

                  Again, for a wine dinner, or a dinner including wine, I use no-scent products, and so will my wife. I only wish that others cared so much.

                  Hunt

                3. re: HillJ

                  Cigarette smoking is (supposedly) legal also, but I can't smoke in a public place anymore and there has even been legal fist fights in court over smoking in an apartment building!

                  1. re: PotatoHouse

                    I suppose one of the difference, PHouse, is the non smoking bans which are also legally enforced and so far...perfume has no such attachment.

                    Health issues via the public however are all around us and the interest of the public and attorney's alike.

                    1. re: HillJ

                      I'd imagine it's because legally restricting someone from lighting a cigarette is easy. Legally restricting one's scent is not.

                  2. re: HillJ

                    If someone can smell your perfume/aftershave/cologne more than a couple of feet away you're wearing too much. It *is* offensive, and unnecessary. You wouldn't walk into a restaurant, set a radio on the table and turn it up full blast -- what's the difference between blasting someone's ears and blasting someone's nose? Blasting someone's nose in a restaurant is actually worse, because the ability to smell is integral to enjoying your food.

                    In polite society we try to respect that fact that other people are sharing public spaces. That means minimizing our intrusions into their personal space, and that includes strong scents.

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      RL, as strongly as you may feel about it, the people offending you aren't going to change their behavior or consider your preference as they head out to dinner. However, if the restaurant were to post THEIR preference in making diners comfortable it would help expectations. However, given the # of times I have had my nose tweeked by the cologne/pefume/sweat of a bartender, server, FOH person or customer over the aroma of garlic, open kitchen grills, outdoor gas heaters and the like...I doubt very much that this nagging issue is going to change much.

                      A civil society deals, without the drama. A polite society...is a work in progress :)

                      1. re: HillJ

                        I do wonder about the people dining with the heavy perfume/cologne user. Imagine getting use to it, not minding or having to deal with it in silence. The folks who enjoy heavy applications of scents are scented everywhere they go....I just can't imagine.

                        1. re: HillJ

                          It's funny what you get used to -- or conversely, become more sensitive to. When I got my first post-college job in 1985, I worked in an office where everyone smoked. I got used to it and really only noticed it on Monday mornings, after a smoke-free weekend. Then smoking in the office became increasingly restricted and eventually banned. The less I was around smoke, the more sensitive I became. Now it bothers me if someone is smoking within 20 feet of me, even outdoors. I sometimes wonder how I survived all those years breathing smoke all day!

                        2. re: HillJ

                          I didn't say they would. In fact, I'm sure they wouldn't. I had a roommate who would spray so much perfume (Chloe) around when she was getting ready to go out that I would literally gag. If I even hinted at it, though, her attitude was that she liked it, and if I didn't, that was my problem.

                          I was just disagreeing with your attitude that people shouldn't be upset or offended by other people's over-use of perfumes. Being "tweaked" is not the same as being stuck sitting near someone for the duration of a meal. That's the crux of the problem: once you are both seated, there's not much you can do except ask to be moved or, as a last resort, leave.

                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                            RL, where you write "there's not much you can do except ask to be moved or, as a last resort, leave.' is exactly where my 1st comment upthread began....the crux of the problem with most things in life. My attitude is not marked by allergy or attitude that others should change for me, my observation is that we can waste alot of precious time fretting over the small shit and for me this is small. 12,000 restaurants in my city alone...I can deal with it. I certainly understand people who suffer thru or have a health issue that comes first but this OP began with an attitude of intolerance...that's a no win, such is life scenario...most times...of course YMMV.

                            1. re: HillJ

                              That's all there is to do now. But, just for discussion's sake, is that the way it has to be? Why should I have to alter my situation because someone else chooses to be inconsiderate, especially if I was there first? Maybe we should have "perfume" and "nonperfume" sections. I live in California, but in some places restaurants still have smoking areas, right? Maybe people who wear too much perfume should be put in with the smokers!

                              I was thinking about this yesterday. I work in San Francisco. The number of people I run across who wear heavy scents is increasingly smaller. Perhaps there is some connection to smoking: people who smoke, or who are around smoke, wear more scents, either to cover up the smoke or because their sense of smell has been deadened by it. Maybe it's just cultural: the use of perfume, like the way people dress or wear make-up or style their hair, differs from place to place, or within certain subcultures within a place.

                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                I live bi-coastal, RL. And I agree that the eastcoast vs. the westcoast is more prone to the use of scents. Why I do not know. Would be a fun offline discussion over cocktails though.

                                Since we're focused on the over use of scents and not that all scents are off-putting, I concur that heavy odors are bound to offend.

                                Ever work in a consignment shop and have the smell of moth balls, old rags and dust smack you in the face? Or vintage book stores? Even with the expectation of odor, it's hard on the senses.

                                But. right now I'm enjoying the scent of garlic, grilled pecan-mushroom sausage and a bottle of red!

                                1. re: HillJ

                                  Sounds delicious! I can never understand those people who want to use air freshener so their house smells like it's never been cooked in!

                                  I guess I am a little more sensitive to the scent issue, though, because for several years now I've had recurring bouts of phantosmia (olfactory hallucinations, i.e., smelling odors that are not derived from any physical stimulus, in my case, nonexistent cigarette smoke), These bouts are often triggered by being exposed to a strong olfactory stimulus of a chemical origin (i.e. not food or flowers, but smoke or perfume or cleaning products). To be plagued for hours or days by a smell you cannot escape because it's in your head is quite unpleasant and makes me more sympathetic to people who are sensitive to odors! At least I only smell smoke. As unpleasant as that is, it could be worse: one of the common odors associated with phantosmia is rotting flesh!

                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                    Holy cow, RL that sounds serious. Given that reaction, as well as the CH's who have medical/health issues associated with scents, of course the rest of us would understand. As well as the frustration that must come with dealing with it.

                                    1. re: HillJ

                                      It could be serious, but I saw both a neurologist and an ENT and they said there was nothing wrong. So it's just unpleasant, ranging from mildly so to days (fortunately much less common now than when I first started experiencing this) when it's so strong I get an acrid sensation in my mouth and a headache. Until this thread I hadn't even thought about the fact that I'm lucky to live in a place that's practically smoke and perfume free, or it might be a lot worse.

                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                        "It could be serious, but I saw both a neurologist and an ENT and they said there was nothing wrong. So it's just unpleasant, ranging from mildly so to days (fortunately much less common now than when I first started experiencing this) when it's so strong I get an acrid sensation in my mouth and a headache."

                                        Hope you get this - I had similar experiences a few years back - the only professional who had a clue was a chiropractor and he fixed it - clear of all symptoms for about a year now.

                                        1. re: sandylc

                                          Now that's pretty fascinating to hear, sandylc.

                                          1. re: sandylc

                                            Interesting. I actually saw a chiropractor for something else last year, maybe that helped -- I only get occasional episodes now, have haven't had a bad one in a quite a while.

                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                              It was a neck issue from a car accident for me. Other symptoms as well. All great now.

                                              Except for the lingering side effects from the nasty drug the neurologist prescribed even while he said he had no clue what was wrong. Gotta love "modern medicine"!!!!!

                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                At least my neurologist and ENT "did no harm"!

                                  2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                    I'm wondering if people are finally getting it through their heads that the object of wearing a fragrance is not to upend the bottle over your head and empty it, as others have pointed out. There are some cologne ingredients, no idea what they are, but they tend to be in men's colognes most often, that start my head pounding as soon as I smell it and my head doesn't quit pounding until ten or fifteen minutes after i quit smelling it. And I'm not a delicate flower, either, I don't have a lot of sensitivities and so forth. It would be a real drag if somebody who was overwearing one of those colognes sat next to me at a pricey restaurant, I'd ask to be moved, but I don't think I"d make a BFD out of it. A friend of mine gets migraines, and they can be triggered by certain fragrances, and that would REALLY make me mad if I was trying to enjoy a good meal.

                            2. re: Ruth Lafler

                              Ruth,

                              Going way back, we typified that as being "old ladies in an elevator." They were as bad as Musac in those same elevators - if not worse.

                              If one can smell your presence, after you have left the room, and they have entered, then something is very wrong.

                              Hunt

                          2. re: MGZ

                            Some restaurants do make note of heavy perfumes, and encourage patrons to not apply such.

                            At least two Port Houses, cover it a bit differently. Besides forbidding heavy scents, after the meal, they move everyone into an identical dining room, with no food aromas, to serve the Ports.

                            Hunt

                            1. re: MGZ

                              <Are you honestly endorsing the notion that when someone enjoys an act that is offensive to others, it must always be tolerated by society?>

                              I'm beginning to understand why it is that people allow their children to run like tazmanian devils through a restaurant without the slightest concern for the other diners who are paying good money and following the rules of good manners. They simply could care less about the other diners and what they're feeling. Years ago I asked a couple, who were allowing their darling child to run around our table in an unscale restaurant, why they were allowing him to do so. We had asked the child to stop, he didn't. So the next step was to confront the parents. They told us we should 'tolerate' their child's behavior...it was a child after all, they said. Clearly the child's behavior reflected the impolite, boorish parents.
                              For many years I have worn the same French perfume...everyday I'm asked what I'm wearing so I'm assuming I don't offend anyone. I would NEVER wear the perfume to a restaurant...NEVER take the risk of offending others. I am so blown away by those who feel I should tolerate anyone who doesn't have the slightest concern about offending me with a perfume that permeates the air of an establishment where I'm trying to enjoy a dining experience. Astonishing.

                              1. re: latindancer

                                latindancer, how do you propose this be handled in a public place? How does one have concern for you in public? Man, I dislike badly behaved children and I can appreciate disliking perfume but how in the world do you go about controlling the behavior of humanity?

                                1. re: HillJ

                                  You can't. However, you can asked to be moved far, far away from it without feeling like you're offending the offender.
                                  As I've mentioned in another post, I love the idea that the owner of a restaurant, where I frequent, has made it his policy to not allow anything that remotely resembles perfume. His patrons all appreciate it and if one comes along and feels like it's their right to not oblige then they're asked to leave. Bravo.

                                  1. re: latindancer

                                    "However, you can asked to be moved far, far away from it without feeling like you're offending the offender."

                                    That is what I find it ironic about this whole issue. Some of us are not just offended by the perfume (or cigarette smells), it is our lives that are put in danger. And yet we are made to feel that the only appropriate option is to discreetly work around it, lest we make the offenders feel offended. They will never have a chance to learn that they are the culprit. I am definitely not satified being in this position and am hoping to hear if there is any other "appropriate" way to handle this.

                                    Yes, bravo to that restaurant owner. I will certainly want to frequent such a place if I can, knowing I can fully enjoy the aromas of the food without having to hold my breath because I may gag on someone's perfume, and will not have to abruptly cut my meal short because my health is suddenly threatened.

                                    1. re: vil

                                      Yep, if I'm ever in Santa Fe, it's going to be my first stop for food.

                          3. I agree with JHill. If your nose is SO sensitive that you cannot deal with anyone having a scent, eat alone in the comfort of your home. I sympathize to a degree - how you feel about perfume is exactly how I feel about smoking. This, for example, is why I never, ever get to enjoy eating on a patio anywhere, because nobody where I live outlaws smoking on the patio, and nothing ruins my meal faster than some a**hole lighting up and me having to smell their smoke while I am trying to enjoy a meal. So I avoid the situation that would place me into that context, completely.

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: rockandroller1

                              Same here re why I never sit outside on a restaurant patio--outside has become the last place for smokers to smoke and eat. "Yes, let's sit out in the nice, fresh air and SMOKE IT UP!" UGH! Annoying. Defeats the whole purpose of enjoying the outdoors, for me, anyway.

                              1. re: kattyeyes

                                "has become the last place for smokers to smoke and eat. "Yes, let's sit out in the nice, fresh air and SMOKE IT UP!" UGH"

                                This would be the area mandated by the restaurants as a smoking area.

                                1. re: FrankJBN

                                  Maybe so, but it doesn't suck less for those of us who would enjoy having a meal outside in a smoke-free place other than our own homes from time to time. Oh, well.

                                  1. re: kattyeyes

                                    And some people like to sit and have a cigarette with their after-dinner drink. I can't do that in my state of MA (patios are considered part of the restaurant and as such, are covered by the smoking ban) and I certainly can't bring my drink out on the sidewalk with me. If there was a place where I could enjoy both? You bet I would indulge.

                                    1. re: LeoLioness

                                      Yes, well, come on down to Connecticut!

                                      1. re: LeoLioness

                                        Unless the laws have changed you can do all of that anywhere in Las Vegas.

                                2. re: rockandroller1

                                  Well, that is certainly an option, but a better one would be for people to NOT over do things, in deference to other people. OTOH, many do not care about anyone, but themselves - they are, after all, the epicenter of the universe.

                                  Hunt

                                3. I hate sitting near an overly-perfumed person and would probably ask to be moved. But I certainly wouldn't refuse to tip if the server couldn't accommodate me. Unlike some of the situations MGZ describes, over-perfuming isn't really considered anti-social behavior (even if I think it ought to be). Years ago, I remember seeing menus with the notation "No cell phones, no patchouli" printed along the bottom. Maybe it's time to revive that practice.

                                  1. "my family and I have been eating, and the waiter brings a couple to the table next to us and the smell is impossible. I put down my knife and fork and tell the waiter, " thats it, I lost my appetite. I can't stand the smell." And naturally, nothing is done about it. If thats the way they treat a customer, then they loose a tip." (the word is lose, btw)

                                    What? The people that were just seated are what, if not customers? Your display of temper and anger, exactly remind me of this:
                                    http://youtu.be/6yVMik5Mfwk

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: Quine

                                      That ad is GREAT! But not racism in this case...scentism?!

                                      1. re: kattyeyes

                                        I think the pint applies well, to the OP here. The OP considered themselves to be the *only* customer, when in fact the other customers, had more right to move away from the "angry" ones.

                                        1. re: Quine

                                          Now that you mention, it does make me wonder if the other ("scented") customers heard the OP's comment to the waiter. If the smell was that unbearable (or if some brat kept kicking my booth), I would likely just ask DISCREETLY to be moved...not in a voice intended for the other party to hear. I certainly wouldn't stomp my pretty little foot and stiff the waiter!

                                          1. re: Quine

                                            Well, and OT to this post, the same applies to a loud table, in a quiet restaurant. I have observed other diners move away, to every table, that empties, as they empty, to have a good dining experience, when one table was so loud, that no one could enjoy their meal. In our case, we were as far, as possible from the offending table, so could move no further away.

                                            Scent is not the only turn off, when dining.

                                            Hunt

                                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                                              Very true. I do find the angry customer to be far more offensive than say, one who over scents. For one deliberately seeks to be offensive and the more often not, is unaware of it.