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Question about perfume.

marmaduke17 Jun 27, 2012 04:11 PM

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?

  1. h
    HillJ Jun 27, 2012 04:47 PM

    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
      MGZ Jun 28, 2012 02:41 AM

      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
        HillJ Jun 28, 2012 04:47 AM

        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
          MGZ Jun 28, 2012 05:35 AM

          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
            HillJ Jun 28, 2012 05:39 AM

            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
              HillJ Jun 28, 2012 05:42 AM

              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
                MGZ Jun 28, 2012 06:03 AM

                "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
                  HillJ Jun 28, 2012 06:07 AM

                  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
                    MGZ Jun 28, 2012 06:10 AM

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

                    1. re: MGZ
                      HillJ Jun 28, 2012 07:29 AM

                      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
                        MGZ Jun 28, 2012 07:43 AM

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

                        1. re: MGZ
                          HillJ Jun 28, 2012 07:46 AM

                          while others offering it in the restrooms.

                          1. re: HillJ
                            MGZ Jun 28, 2012 08:22 AM

                            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
                              HillJ Jun 28, 2012 08:32 AM

                              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
                Bill Hunt Jun 29, 2012 07:43 PM

                <<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.


              3. re: HillJ
                PotatoHouse Jun 29, 2012 11:59 AM

                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
                  HillJ Jun 29, 2012 12:10 PM

                  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
                    LeoLioness Jun 29, 2012 12:44 PM

                    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
                  Ruth Lafler Jun 29, 2012 06:04 PM

                  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
                    HillJ Jun 29, 2012 07:06 PM

                    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
                      HillJ Jun 29, 2012 07:09 PM

                      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
                        Ruth Lafler Jun 29, 2012 09:28 PM

                        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
                        Ruth Lafler Jun 29, 2012 09:22 PM

                        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
                          HillJ Jun 30, 2012 04:14 AM

                          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
                            Ruth Lafler Jun 30, 2012 03:27 PM

                            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
                              HillJ Jun 30, 2012 03:34 PM

                              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
                                Ruth Lafler Jun 30, 2012 03:50 PM

                                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
                                  HillJ Jun 30, 2012 04:07 PM

                                  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
                                    Ruth Lafler Jun 30, 2012 05:01 PM

                                    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
                                      sandylc Jul 2, 2012 09:33 AM

                                      "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
                                        HillJ Jul 2, 2012 09:46 AM

                                        Now that's pretty fascinating to hear, sandylc.

                                        1. re: sandylc
                                          Ruth Lafler Jul 2, 2012 10:16 AM

                                          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
                                            sandylc Jul 2, 2012 12:08 PM

                                            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
                                              Ruth Lafler Jul 2, 2012 01:50 PM

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

                                2. re: Ruth Lafler
                                  EWSflash Jun 30, 2012 04:24 PM

                                  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
                            Bill Hunt Jun 29, 2012 07:49 PM


                            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.


                        2. re: MGZ
                          Bill Hunt Jun 29, 2012 07:37 PM

                          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.


                          1. re: MGZ
                            latindancer Jun 29, 2012 10:56 PM

                            <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
                              HillJ Jun 30, 2012 04:18 AM

                              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
                                latindancer Jun 30, 2012 06:42 AM

                                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
                                  vil Jul 1, 2012 09:03 AM

                                  "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
                                    MGZ Jul 1, 2012 09:09 AM

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

                        3. rockandroller1 Jun 28, 2012 05:31 AM

                          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
                            kattyeyes Jun 28, 2012 07:03 AM

                            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
                              FrankJBN Jun 28, 2012 09:33 AM

                              "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
                                kattyeyes Jun 28, 2012 09:58 AM

                                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
                                  LeoLioness Jun 28, 2012 10:01 AM

                                  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
                                    kattyeyes Jun 28, 2012 10:06 AM

                                    Yes, well, come on down to Connecticut!

                                    1. re: LeoLioness
                                      EWSflash Jun 30, 2012 04:27 PM

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

                              2. re: rockandroller1
                                Bill Hunt Jun 29, 2012 07:51 PM

                                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.


                              3. s
                                small h Jun 28, 2012 05:37 AM

                                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. Quine Jun 28, 2012 06:59 AM

                                  "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:

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: Quine
                                    kattyeyes Jun 28, 2012 07:05 AM

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

                                    1. re: kattyeyes
                                      Quine Jun 28, 2012 07:08 AM

                                      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
                                        kattyeyes Jun 28, 2012 07:22 AM

                                        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
                                          Bill Hunt Jun 29, 2012 07:54 PM

                                          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.


                                          1. re: Bill Hunt
                                            Quine Jun 29, 2012 08:10 PM

                                            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.

                                    2. b
                                      beevod Jun 28, 2012 07:12 AM

                                      The only thing worse than the reek of perfume is the stench of aftershave. I have often wondered what these people are trying to cover up.

                                      1. l
                                        LeoLioness Jun 28, 2012 07:18 AM

                                        "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."

                                        I can't believe the wait staff doesn't fall over themselves to accommodate a diner as gracious as you! And this happens often to you, you say? Interesting.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: LeoLioness
                                          Bill Hunt Jun 29, 2012 07:59 PM

                                          Probably not too much more often, than having the person in the seat next to you, on a long Sourthwest flight, having had 6 bean burritos, about an hour, before the flight.


                                        2. j
                                          jujuthomas Jun 28, 2012 07:36 AM

                                          as someone who is quite allergic to perfumes and cologne, I find this situation frustrating. But it's not the server's fault, not the restaurant's problem. The "scent abusers" have the same right as I do to eat a meal out.
                                          If the scent is causing issues for me, I ask to be moved. If moving isn't possible, we finish our meal and leave.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: jujuthomas
                                            GreenDragon Jun 28, 2012 08:02 AM

                                            Unfortunately, most people cannot smell their own odor very well. If you have put on enough perfume/cologne that you can smell it, you have usually put too much on. It is worse when you are, say, flying in a plane, and someone nearby has bathed in some stronge scent. Often there is no way to escape it, even if the flight isn't full and you can move a couple rows away.

                                            Unfortunately, there is no real way to police this practice. While some people are becoming aware that many people are sensitive to perfumes and such, it just takes one person to give someone else a migraine from the scents.

                                            The only solution for me here would be to quietly ask to be moved. If that is impossible, ask for my food to go.

                                            1. re: GreenDragon
                                              LeoLioness Jun 28, 2012 08:13 AM

                                              I totally agree that some people bathe in their scent of choice. I got up and changed subway seats this morning for that very reason, as I don't want to start my day inhaling Paco Rabanne.

                                              But I would also think that if you are "allergic to perfume" that would mean you are extremely irritated by certain notes, so some person's fragrance might bother you intensely (even if the didn't apply it with a heavy hand) while you might not notice another person's at all.

                                              1. re: LeoLioness
                                                Dee S Jun 28, 2012 11:04 AM

                                                LeoLioness, you said exactly what I was going to say. I am sensitive to certain perfumes and can have a serious asthmatic reaction. However, since they are constantly reformulating perfumes/colognes, it's incredibly frustrating while out in public. Sometimes, the scent doesn't bother me and other times I can't breathe. One time, while commuting to work on the very crowded train, I had a major coughing fit because of someone's perfume. A very nice person seated near me offerred me a lozenge. It was a nice gesture!

                                                I'm with you GreenDragon and Motosport. You do what you can and try not to make a big deal about it.

                                                1. re: LeoLioness
                                                  Bill Hunt Jun 29, 2012 08:03 PM

                                                  I do not recognize Paco Rabanne (guess that I do not get out much?), but have dropped season tickets, due to "overly-scented" patrons. That was not even a venue, where food/wine was involved.


                                            2. Motosport Jun 28, 2012 10:47 AM

                                              I am prone to asthma attacks that are easily triggered by someone who doused themselves with cologne, perfume or some musk essence like patchouli.
                                              I ask to be moved in a restaurant or move to another seat in a movie theater if possible. I am a bit rough around the edges but I do mention the offense to the offender politely if possible. Unfortunately that usually does not go over well. People seem oblivious.
                                              Excessive fragrances are banned in my small office. We do have one client that bathes in patchouli. She is a legend in our office. One worker swears that they can tell when she pulls into the parking lot.

                                              18 Replies
                                              1. re: Motosport
                                                kattyeyes Jun 28, 2012 11:05 AM

                                                BRUTAL! Used to work with a guy like that with the patchouli--one of my buddies used to call him Odie Colognie--(a la eau de cologne). HA HA!

                                                Sadly, if it has never happened to you (an asthma attack, for example--and I'm asthmatic, too), it becomes one of those invisible things people just can't grasp...and can't imagine why THEIR behavior is a problem for YOU. Trust me, I get it. In spades.

                                                1. re: kattyeyes
                                                  vil Jun 29, 2012 07:53 AM

                                                  "Sadly, if it has never happened to you (an asthma attack, for example--and I'm asthmatic, too), it becomes one of those invisible things people just can't grasp...and can't imagine why THEIR behavior is a problem for YOU. Trust me, I get it. In spades."

                                                  Exactly my experience, from a fellow asthmatic.

                                                  In addition to having to try to remain calm in the face of known triggers (I still get panicky because it could mean a trip to the ER), I still have to be understanding that there will always be people who do not get it, even if I try to explain to them politely. I would like to be more proactive and educate people about these "invisible" issues, but my experience tells me it is usually easier to just discreetly deal with it with the server (switching tables or getting the bill immediately are the only options IMO), and understand that not all places are ready to accommodate this disability.

                                                  1. re: vil
                                                    jujuthomas Jun 29, 2012 08:25 AM

                                                    +1! I've lost friends because they don't "get" that there are things I can't do and places I can't go because I like to continue breathing.

                                                    Fortunately for me, perfume usually just causes a sneezing fit for me, but I have friends for whom it causes athma attacks or migraines. I have not often encountered a situation in a restaurant so bad that I had to move, but I have switched seats on the train, and sneezed ALL OVER the woman in front of me who sprayed herself w/ perfume at her seat near the end of a trans-atlantic flight. (UGH!)

                                                    1. re: jujuthomas
                                                      vil Jul 1, 2012 09:07 AM

                                                      Good for you about sneezing all over the woman! Based on the discussion so far, it sounds like that is the only "appropriate" way to let her know that her over-appreciation of the perfume is causing distress to other people!

                                                      1. re: vil
                                                        jujuthomas Jul 1, 2012 09:18 AM

                                                        i couldn't really help it, her seat was reclined into my face. the stewardess commented about loving the scent. I said it smelled like an asthma attack to me... I really wanted her to know that she was the reason for the sneezin.

                                                    2. re: vil
                                                      LeoLioness Jun 29, 2012 10:30 AM

                                                      I'm genuinely curious--in addition to being easier for you to simply move away from the irritant, what else could you expect a restaurant to do?

                                                      1. re: LeoLioness
                                                        Bill Hunt Jun 29, 2012 08:05 PM

                                                        The move of the sensitive patron should take care of things, or at least that I would hope so.

                                                        Beyond that, I am not sure what could, or should be done.


                                                        1. re: LeoLioness
                                                          vil Jul 1, 2012 09:29 AM

                                                          I do not expect a restaurant to do anything on top of being gracious in accommodating my need to suddenly move tables or get the bill (and believe me, some places were not). But like I said, I am still thinking if there is a chance to appropriately let others know their excessive use of perfume can be detrimental to others.

                                                        2. re: vil
                                                          Ruth Lafler Jun 29, 2012 06:02 PM

                                                          I have asthma, too -- fortunately not too severe, but exacerbated when I have other upper respiratory problems (i.e. a cold or allergies). A couple of my friends who smoke will stand there holding a cigarette so the smoke is blowing in my face, completely oblivious to the way I'm hacking and choking. Some people are just oblivious.

                                                      2. re: Motosport
                                                        FrankJBN Jun 29, 2012 11:52 AM

                                                        "I do mention the offense"

                                                        The "offense"?

                                                        Oh, you mean their perfectly legal, moral and generally harmless behavior that quite possibly you alone in the immediate area find offensive.

                                                        People don't understand that expecting any or all of the billions of people in the world to accomodate their behavior to a stranger they may encounter accidently is reasonable.

                                                        They unconscionably think that perhaps the person with the physical problem that impacts dealing with the real world around them should possibly be the one to accomodate.


                                                        1. re: FrankJBN
                                                          Motosport Jun 29, 2012 02:00 PM

                                                          Yes, I do mention the offense. "Perfume is supposed to be a subtle scent. You are wearing way too much and it is making me ill." That's as nice as it gets. I leave it at that unless they get belligerant and then the Brooklyn comes out in me.
                                                          Consider if a street person sat next to you while you were enjoying a flavorful meal. Also "legal and moral".

                                                          1. re: Motosport
                                                            LeoLioness Jun 29, 2012 05:18 PM

                                                            And how exactly is this "nice" opinion received, in general? Do you find yourself going "Brooklyn" (whatever that means) more often than not?

                                                            1. re: LeoLioness
                                                              Motosport Jun 30, 2012 08:25 AM

                                                              Not an "opinion" but a comment/complaint. The person may be totally unaware. Most times there is a polite apology.
                                                              No I don't find myself "Going Brooklyn" often. You don't want to get into a verbal altercation with someone from Brooklyn.

                                                            2. re: Motosport
                                                              Quine Jun 29, 2012 05:26 PM

                                                              "Perfume is supposed to be a subtle scent." What federal/state or local law is that? A homeless person has the exact same rights as I have to have a seat in a restaurant. Except, I am likely to pay for their meal rather than storm out and stiff the waiter.

                                                              1. re: Quine
                                                                PotatoHouse Jun 30, 2012 04:14 AM

                                                                Sorry, but neither you nor the homeless person has a RIGHT to a seat in as restaurant. A restaurant is private property open to the general public and has the RIGHT to refuse service to anyone, including you, your homeless friend, and the classless chick wearing a pint of perfume from Woolworth's.

                                                                1. re: Quine
                                                                  latindancer Jun 30, 2012 06:49 AM

                                                                  Since when, Quine, is a restaurant required to allow everyone/anyone into their establishment?

                                                                  1. re: Quine
                                                                    Motosport Jun 30, 2012 08:29 AM

                                                                    It's a common courtesy social "law." The same applies to burping out loud or picking one's nose in public.
                                                                    We all have the right to sit and eat in a restaurant but not if we offend the other patrons or the management.
                                                                    Businesses do have the right to refuse service for many reasons as long as it is not discrimination under the law.

                                                                2. re: FrankJBN
                                                                  Bill Hunt Jun 29, 2012 08:07 PM

                                                                  No. At some point, it comes down to societal awareness," sort of like screaming and shouting in a fine-dining restaurant.

                                                                  Of course, that intimates that the "offending patrons" have some semblance of "class," and that can be a real stretch.


                                                              2. a
                                                                antennastoheaven Jun 29, 2012 10:19 AM

                                                                Some of the yoga studios at which I practice politely ask that students refrain from wearing heavy scents because they can inflame sensitivies of fellow students and be distracting in practice. I wish restaurants would consider including such a statement on their website and/or on their menus.

                                                                My boyfriend is very fragrance sensitive and it definitely spoils our meal if we can't get away from an overly scented person. I am not sensitive per se, but if I am paying good money to eat out, I want to be able to enjoy the flavors of the meal that the restaurant has prepared for me. Sense of smell contributes greatly to how we perceive flavors. It is to everyone's detriment if a patron is emitting so much fragrance that it interferes with other patrons' ability to fully enjoy and appreciate their food.

                                                                A couple of years ago I was sitting at a small crowded restaurant for brunch and halfway thru a heavily perfumed lady was seated so close to me that the backs of our chairs were touching. The rest of my meal kind of tasted like perfume. It was gross.

                                                                1. m
                                                                  mangiare24 Jun 29, 2012 11:20 AM

                                                                  "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."

                                                                  Simple basic communication and good manners are always the best way to go about a situation like this. Next time, try a discreet, "I'm sorry but the perfume of the woman seated at the next table is bothering me. May we please be moved to another table? Thank you." I'm sure you will be accommodated.

                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                  1. re: mangiare24
                                                                    susancinsf Jun 29, 2012 01:01 PM

                                                                    I must agree. I can't stand heavy cleanser or floral scents while I am eating (or cigarette smoke either, but since I live in California the latter is never a problem at least at home). The one time I was seated and someone was seated right next to me with heavy perfume, I got up, discretely found the server and told him out of earshot of the other diners (tables were very close together, which never helps) that the perfume was overpowering, would interfere with my enjoyment of the meal and probably give me a headache to boot, and I would really appreciate being moved so that we didn't have to cut our dinner short. I used please and thank you and made it clear that we didn't consider this to be in any way the server's fault, but we did hate to have to ask for our food to be boxed and to leave without dessert and an after dinner drink (this was at a 'fine dining' establishment). We were moved immediately. OTOH, if one just says that something is a problem without giving a possible solution, it isn't really all that surprising that the restaurant doesn't respond (they aren't mind readers, they may think you just wanted to register a complaint).

                                                                    I have also asked servers if they could please not use industrial cleansers on a table right next to me while I am eating, or possibly move me if they must use it...but I am polite. I have been known to walk out of a restaurant without being seated if I walk in and smell heavy cleansers, or (shudder) there are air fresheners everywhere, since I don't think there is a lot a the restaurant can do at that point...

                                                                    1. re: susancinsf
                                                                      EWSflash Jun 30, 2012 04:38 PM

                                                                      There are restaurants that use air fresheners? That's a horrible thought.

                                                                      1. re: EWSflash
                                                                        susancinsf Jul 1, 2012 03:12 PM

                                                                        definitely, but yes, I have walked into places that used them. and walked out.

                                                                      2. re: susancinsf
                                                                        Ruth Lafler Jun 30, 2012 04:52 PM

                                                                        Reminds me of the time I was having a lunch in a restaurant that extended past the end of lunch service. They were spraying a huge wall of windows with glass cleaner, and with the sun coming through the windows I could clearly see the clouds of spray settling on the glasses and cutlery on the tables under the window that had already been set for dinner service. I tried to explain to the manager why I felt this was a problem, and he completely failed to comprehend my point.

                                                                    2. s
                                                                      sandylc Jun 29, 2012 12:16 PM

                                                                      I have been on both side of this spectrum. In the overdressed eighties perfume was a very important thing for many people, including me. As my nose became too accustomed to my own perfume, I began to use more and my boss at the time had to tell me to back off. Humiliating, but good for him to essentially do me this favor.

                                                                      Fast forward to the late nineties and working in a natural foods store - no scented personal care products allowed at all. Period. Following this time in my life, I don't like perfume at all and don't wear it ever, and I like it that way.

                                                                      When someone wears perfume I always notice it and don't generally care for it - it's pretty unpleasant for me, but it hasn't ruined anything for me yet and I've never complained about it.

                                                                      I agree with others here that it's a sticky situation and discreet politeness is required for those who cannot tolerate the smell.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: sandylc
                                                                        Quine Jun 29, 2012 12:32 PM

                                                                        It is true, that if one has a personal "signature" perfume they wear, the mind adapts, so that you don't even smell it or realize you are wearing it. (it's the same effect that if you wear, colored lenses in glasses for a while, when you take them off, the world looks decidedly, the opposite color, because your brain has "normalized" the input to create balance) And the person likely steps up the amount, just to smell it, or, as in the case of rushing to get ready or the usual AM absent-mindedness, forgot you did use it, and use it again.
                                                                        NO offense is meant. Silly that people think this of others. And yes, many people have not experienced, by themselves, or in knowing others, about triggers and migraines. SO they don't "get" it. It is not mean spirited, just not knowing. I bet there are people who are reading this now, and may well be of perfumed and not know it, or are just finding out about how it can affect others.

                                                                        And surely, explosive outbursts as described in the OP, do more to make people dis-believe the issues, as "crazy people" actions.

                                                                        And personally, back in the 80s there was this outrageously famous perfume that everyone wore at some point, that *to me* smelled exactly like a urinal cake. That was fun, not.

                                                                      2. pinehurst Jun 29, 2012 12:44 PM

                                                                        I know that many restaurants can (and do) give caveats to their staff regarding cologne/body spray/perfume, etc, I'm not sure that they can do so with customers.

                                                                        I have quietly asked to be moved if a patron is bathed in a scent so strong that I cannot smell anything but that scent. You know the phrase "you eat with your eyes first"...well, we also eat with our noses, and we all know that a headcold's stuffiness also dims our tastebuds.

                                                                        I expect stale cigarette smells and heavy cologne at some of the bars I've been to...but wouldn't pay good money for a dinner in aura of someone's fragrance.

                                                                        1. Ruth Lafler Jun 29, 2012 06:08 PM

                                                                          I agree with your basic issue, but the way to deal with it is to say, POLITELY, "I'm afraid that person's strong perfume has completely destroyed my ability to enjoy my meal. Would it be possible to move me to another table?" And if the answer is no, then ask to see the manager and repeat the question. And for heaven's sake don't stiff the waiter unless there is a sea of empty tables and you think he's refusing just to spite you.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                                            Bill Hunt Jun 29, 2012 08:10 PM


                                                                            If the answer is "No," then a description of "projectile vomiting" might be brought up.


                                                                          2. Bill Hunt Jun 29, 2012 07:34 PM

                                                                            I have never seen such a refusal, though would support such.

                                                                            We often do wine tasting events, and too many arrive with "over-the-top" perfume. I do not want to sit near them.

                                                                            Same for floral arrangements. I love Star-gazer lilies, but NOT where I am dining.

                                                                            All too often we have had to wait long periods of time, for aromas to clear, when someone passes by, with major perfume. I do not want my blue crab to taste of Shalimar!

                                                                            When we are dining out, we use almost no aromatic substances, and usually only no-scent deodorant. All of my men's after-shave products are "no-scent."

                                                                            On an OT note: we turned in our Symphony season tickets, as a patron, in the row in front of us, bathed in heavy perfume. We could no longer take it.


                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                              MGZ Jun 30, 2012 02:07 AM

                                                                              We are like you and avoid fragrances as much as possible, especially those that are artificial in any way. I was particularly pleased as fragrance free laundry products became more widely available. As a few of us discussed a couple years ago, consciously smelling one's food is part of the pleasure experience: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/726833

                                                                              As to the Symphony, I too have had to tolerate some overwhelming perfumes while attending performances. Somehow, the funk of body odor mixed with acrid pot smoke at a rock show or the smell of stale booze and cigarettes in a jazz club are less obtrusive. They somehow get absorbed by the totality of the experience. On the other hand, the aggressive battling of competing designer fragrances in the sterile environment of the concert hall can be dizzying - like a church on Easter. Maybe that's why there is always the sound of someone coughing or clearing their throat whenever the volume of the music quiets.

                                                                            2. l
                                                                              latindancer Jun 29, 2012 09:39 PM

                                                                              <can/do restaurants refuse women from entering, because they smell like someone poured a bottle of perfume over their heads?>

                                                                              The owner of one of my favorite restaurants in Santa Fe does not allow anyone, men or women, to either wear perfume or smell like they've just bathed in bath oil or used a perfumed deodorant. The food is wonderful, the only aroma comes from the food and highly respect his tenacity. If a person dares to try wearing perfume they are kindly asked to leave.
                                                                              To answer your question....yes. Highly perfumed men or women are offensive when it comes to dining or flying or enclosed in an area that is not ventilated enough to infringe on another's space.

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: latindancer
                                                                                HillJ Jun 30, 2012 04:21 AM

                                                                                The owner of one of my favorite restaurants in Santa Fe does not allow anyone, men or women, to either wear perfume or smell like they've just bathed in bath oil or used a perfumed deodorant.
                                                                                Are you referring to employees, customers or both? If customers, how does the owner convey this?

                                                                                1. re: HillJ
                                                                                  latindancer Jun 30, 2012 06:46 AM

                                                                                  <Are you referring to employees, customers or both? If customers, how does the owner convey this?>

                                                                                  It's his restaurant and he sets the rules. It's not a public institution and those who enter must obey. Before entering there is a small, very plainly stated sign to the side of the entry door that simply states his requests....no perfume or anything remotely resembling body perfume.

                                                                              2. l
                                                                                Linda VH Jun 30, 2012 07:30 AM

                                                                                I get instant headaches with certain perfumes and others are fine. I was in an elevator on the umpteenth floor in Vegas when a woman stepped on bathed in perfume. Of course the elevator was a local and no option to switch as they were all super slow. I put my hand in front of my nose to defuse the odor. Lady asked me if I was ill so I told her I was allergic to her perfume. She was astounded to find that I could smell it across the elevator car. She was so used to putting it on she didn't realize she was a walking perfume factory.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: Linda VH
                                                                                  MGZ Jun 30, 2012 07:59 AM

                                                                                  As you can see in the links I posted above, there are chemicals, sometimes not disclosed, in many perfumes that will cause various adverse effects in people.

                                                                                2. Emme Jun 30, 2012 11:16 AM

                                                                                  the solution to the problem lies in what i can only imagine as a SNL skit... the Perfumilizer... You approach the machine, and it takes a reading of the perfume particles in the air around you. If you are over the limit, you may not disperse any more. If you are within range for another spritz, it will spray you. After which point, you will not be eligible to be perfumed for a minimum or 12 hours, and/or verification of lack of potency.

                                                                                  my stepdad is highly sensitive. i am sensitive. my grandmother is a super-offender. no matter how you tell her, nothing changes. we're left with the scent long after she is gone. i feel bad taking her to a restaurant... then again, her behavior in general is pretty intolerable, so she's stink-challenged on several fronts.

                                                                                  were it me, i'd be annoyed, and maybe ask to move. but it's not the server's fault. and i don't see humiliation as a viable solution either.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: Emme
                                                                                    Motosport Jun 30, 2012 11:43 AM

                                                                                    Yesss!! They can install them in cars so they won't start if you reek of Chanel 44!!

                                                                                  2. huiray Jun 30, 2012 08:03 PM

                                                                                    Lots of posts and hand-wringing about tolerating obnoxious behavior (perfumed miscreants, spawn-of-the-devil kids, etc etc) or not, as the case may be. Here's an article of some bearing on the issue: http://quoteinvestigator.com/2011/10/...

                                                                                    1. c
                                                                                      cajundave Jul 1, 2012 10:53 AM

                                                                                      There was a restaurant in Chicago that banned perfumes and smoking. Sadly they later had to allow smoking in a separate room because they were losing business.


                                                                                      The owner was severely allergic to perfume.

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