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It's kind of a smelly story ...

Updated on June 19, 2013

Pepe le Pew

Every night around 10pm, I walk my dog outside through my neighborhood before bed. About seven times out of ten, I encounter a skunk somewhere on our walk. I used to be more alarmed about it, but now it seems as though we're used to each other - me, my dog, and Pepe le Pew. I suppose like any nocturnal creature, he's looking for the things skunks look for at night. I, on the other hand, look for the opposite.

So the other morning, imbedded in the newspaper that I seldom read, is an article about a new matchmaking phenomenon called pheromone parties. At these events, organizers ask guests to submit a slept-in t-shirt, to be smelled by other participants, so they could get a sense of attraction to the other person by their pheromones (i.e. does this person smell like someone I want to know?)

Okay. On its face, it does sound a little ridiculous. But, it's not as though we haven't done some ridiculous things in the world of dating. We place so much on the value of the visual attraction, many unwittingly date psychopaths. So, perhaps they're on to something.

Pheromone parties

So here's how this apparently works. Guests sleep in a t-shirt for three nights in a row, to capture their "odor print", which they bring to the party in a Ziploc bag to preserve the scent. Each baggie is given a blue or pink label, as well as a number - lest we fall in love with the scent of Larry the Lumberjack when we still pine for Lucinda the Landscape Architect. Bags are placed on tables and guests open and smell the color and number-coded Ziploc bags in between their margaritas.

If you like the smell of pink baggie number seven, you take a photo of you with the bag and that is later embedded into a slide show which is shown to others on a wall. So, if you see Kyle holding your smelly ZZ top shirt and grinning, that's a good sign you're a match made in olfactory heaven. Which some might say is a candle and incense store. Or a chocolate factory. Or a locker room.

The parties started out as an experiment by a woman tired of online dating (all computer monitors pretty much smell the same) and decided to go low-tech to find romance. Low tech meaning primal, base, evolutionary.

Apparently, scientists believe humans can use scent to sort out genetic combinations that could lead to weaker offspring. "Humans can pick up this incredibly small chemical difference with their noses," said Marcia McClintock, founder of the Institute for Mind and Biology at the University of Chicago.

More than a decade ago, Biologist Claus Wedekind of the University of Bern conducted a study where he let female students smell T-shirts been worn by a male test group and tell him which they found to be the most appealing. The study showed that the women consistently chose the men whose immune system was most different from their own.

Either that, or smelled most like Axe body spray...

Who you think it is ....
Who you think it is .... | Source
... and reality!
... and reality!

It's an interesting premise. If you momentarily furrow your brow and purse your lips, perhaps you're a candidate. Certainly with us men, attraction is highly visual. Not sure how much hearing enters into our attraction-meters; witness Fran Drescher. Of course we all make assumptions based on the sound of a sensual voice - the phone sex industry bills millions of dollars every year, fifty cents at a time!

Touch is obvious, but there are certain laws protecting us from strangers rubbing, touching or squeezing us at inopportune moments without our explicit consent. Of course, that could explain high ridership for trains and subway systems. Same goes with taste - so little time, so many people to lick.

Hmm. Licking parties. Can you imagine? I could be on to something!

"Excuse me, you smell wonderful. Can I taste you?"

As far as Pepe, my dog and I, for now, we're going to stick with the visual.

The poll

Would you date someone based on how they smell?

See results


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    • Gerg profile image

      Gerg 5 years ago from California

      I hadn't heard about it - just did a google search and saw it's something new out. "Full swing" = nicely played!

      I'll give that some thought... ;-)

    • B Lucy profile image

      B Lucy 5 years ago from Podunk, Virginia

      Hmm . . perhaps your next hub should be about the stresses and rewards of being a stripper. It's all the rage now . . what with the Magic Mike mania in full swing!

    • Gerg profile image

      Gerg 5 years ago from California

      Max - definitely many schools of thought on this, though I have noticed a lot more women weighing in on the positive side of this one than men...

      B Lucy - did I mention I used to strip? I'm happy to mail my shirt, but am sorry to say sans-Axe. Alas, I suppose it was not meant to be (you were probably doing well up until the "alas", right? ;-)

    • B Lucy profile image

      B Lucy 5 years ago from Podunk, Virginia

      I kept a scrap of a t-shirt a male stripper threw into the crowd (we promptly clawed it to bits) for several months just so I could sniff it! = ) But on a more respectable note, I will say the smell of a man is crucial. It is up there with a cute smile and sense of humor for me! I still mourn my last boyfriend . . . who was an Axe man! *sigh*

    • BeyondMax profile image

      BeyondMax 5 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      LOL I had to laugh because it's too weird to think of it seriously. Scientifically speaking (LOL again) there is a valid point here, right? But heck, if it isn't another way (commercial stunt?) to get money from unfortunate (in love here) people... Well, like saying goes, to each its own? LOL

    • Gerg profile image

      Gerg 5 years ago from California

      I'd like to say its pheromones, but honestly, I almost don't want to know! ;-)

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 5 years ago from Central Florida

      I hear ya, Greg! Why do dogs do that???????

    • Gerg profile image

      Gerg 5 years ago from California

      Tell you what - you can sniff the psychopaths and let me know! ;-)

      I think what the pheromone craze does is draw attention to things we may not pay as much attention to, but are also important. Even at the parties, after they smell shirts, they hold up a "picture" (ie visual), so you can still claim to not own the shirt...

      As long as we don't devolve to dog behavior when meeting each other, I'm good!


    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      And here I thought you were planning to skew the results by "urging" the skunk to apply scent to a T-shirt for a smell party. (Hey, a skunk odor and the smell of a locker room have a LOT in common!)

      Seriously now... I just saw a program on PBS about wild horses, part of which showed mares in heat sniffing prospective partners and vice versa, so apparently there IS something to the theory of weeding out weak genes by pheromones alone.

      Interesting, tho, that using attraction by pheromones could be more accurate than attraction by looks alone. But does a psychopath smell different from a non-psycho?????

    • Gerg profile image

      Gerg 5 years ago from California

      Well, there just isn't a theme to these responses! BW - yes, definitely an improvement over tupperware parties! w20 - yup, completely understand. arb: I'm not entirely sure what to do with that; may need to consult with Joan Deere!

      Thanks all, for your support and commentary!

    • arb profile image

      arb 5 years ago from oregon

      If I chose a woman based on fragrance only, I'd end up with a tractor, assuming an old tractor rag made it to the party. I like the low torqe of all that horsepower moving in slow motion while tearing up new ground. I tried rubbing my wife down with old tractor rags once, but, the damn things are flamable when she gets heated up!

    • writer20 profile image

      Joyce Haragsim 5 years ago from Southern Nevada

      Not me, I hate sweaty smells and that's why I put color bleach into my wash; because sometimes washing doesn't get that stinky smell out.

      Vote up, useful and interesting, Joyce.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 5 years ago from Central Florida

      I've heard of the pheromone theory but didn't know they built parties around it. Beats tupperware any day! Interesting concept.

      BTW, I've always loved Phoebe's Smelly Kitty. Good choice!

      Voted up, Greg!

    • Gerg profile image

      Gerg 5 years ago from California

      Boy, Nellieanna, you're like Klara - the girl who never sleeps! ;-)

      I agree - I'm not that much of a fragrance person either. Natural, though when going out in a little black dress, a hint of something subtle at the nape of the neck can be extremely sexy....

      So far these parties have only made it to NY and LA. I am a big pheromones guy, all kidding aside. This is truly a big component of attraction. But you'd never catch me at a smell mixer!

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 5 years ago from TEXAS

      Au Natural rules! :-). . . although in cold weather, a manly man in a fine suit on which a faint whiff of a really good fragrance (perhaps vetiver based) - clings, but is noticeable only 'up close and personal' - is a bit of a luxurious treat.

    • Gerg profile image

      Gerg 5 years ago from California

      ... so perhaps there's something to this? Thanks for the validation, Nellieanna!

      I love it, Klara! You do have wonder what lurks under that body spray. And yup, I probably do. Our secret. Well us and whoever else is reading this too...shhh. ;-)

    • profile image

      klarawieck 5 years ago

      Ever since I moved to Miami Beach I smell like Banana Boat! Lol

      I wouldn't go out with a man because I like his smell. There has to be more to it than Axe deodorant... unless I'm blindfolded or in a dark room. You know what they say... Beauty is a light switch away!

      Very funny, Greg. You've got a dangerous mind.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 5 years ago from TEXAS

      Interesting, Greg. I must read it again, more carefully.

      Personally I like for a man to smell like fresh air and sunshine! George would come in from mowing or something and smell divine. When I told him so, he'd laugh and say I must like to smell sweat. haha. But he did really smell clean and fresh - like fresh air and sunshine! :-)


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