Thursday, February 11, 2010

What's with the stinky magazine inserts?

By Guest Blogger Sandra Parshall vents on today's Pet Peeve Thursday

Vogue All I wanted to do was read a magazine article about the movie Nine. But the magazine was Vogue, and I could smell it from twenty feet away. If I ventured closer, my eyes would tear up and I would start sneezing. If I opened it, I ran the risk of asphyxiation by perfume.

Vogue probably has more perfume advertising inserts than any other magazine on the planet. You know what I mean – those glued-down flaps you’re supposed to pull open to experience the rapture of the scent. Trouble is, you can smell the perfume long before you open the flap, and when a magazine has half a dozen inserts in one issue, the rapture-inducing scents combine to form one unholy stench. I can almost see the fumes rising from the pages.

Perfume Why do advertisers think this is a good way to introduce potential customers to a particular perfume? It isn’t, but that’s their problem. Our problem – I speak for those of us who are sensitive to chemical odors – is how to make use of a magazine that sets off a massive allergic reaction. I once knew a woman who tore out all the inserts, threw them in the trash – outdoors – then left magazines lying open in the garage for a week to air out before she even tried to read them. I could do  that, but I don’t want to throw paper in the trash. It belongs in the paper recycling bin. The bin, however, is in the basement, and I know the whole house will reek of perfume if I ditch the inserts anywhere indoors. Paper is biodegradable, but ink isn’t, so I can’t bury the things in the garden (although the stench might get rid of the mole that’s been tunneling under my daylilies).

As you might guess, I pass up a lot of magazines because I can’t stand the way they smell. I know some people love those perfume inserts, though. I read in the “Hints from Heloise” column that they Skunk make dandy “fresheners” for linen closets and underwear drawers. From the amount of perfume that assaults my respiratory system every time I’m in a crowd, I have to assume the  majority of women douse themselves with fragrances. Men also contribute to air pollution, although to a lesser degree – do guys who overdo the cologne and aftershave think they smell sexy? – and male-oriented magazines probably have their share of stinky inserts.

I know from experience that women who wear perfume don’t like the suggestion that they refrain when they’re going to be in a closed, crowded space such as a theater. Perfume companies, I’m sure, wouldn’t appreciate the suggestion that they stop placing inserts in magazines. So I will continue to steer clear of magazines that reek, even if they contain something I want to read. I have come to expect a headache and runny nose every time I see a movie or stage performance or go anywhere a lot of people congregate.

These problems are just the tip of the fragrance iceberg, though. I haven’t even mentioned perfumed soap, shampoo, detergent, cat litter, furniture polish, glass cleaner....

And what's bugging YOU today?
Broken places Sandra Parshall is the Agatha Award-winning author of the Rachel Goddard Mystery series. Her current book, BROKEN PLACES, is hot off the press.  For more information on Sandra and her books, please check out her website.  Sandra is also a regular at the Poe's Deadly Daughters blog.