Is It Possible to Be Allergic to Somone's Smell? ; Family Members Are Naturally Allergic to Each Other's Body Odour in Order to Avoid Incest
Arnold, Sue, The Independent (London, England)
APART FROM the appearance of Boy George beside William Caxton in a recent BBC poll to find the 100 people who have contributed most to British cultural life, nothing much shocks me anymore. Having said that, I confess I was shocked, outraged even, by what my friend Lizzie told me the other day. Have I told you about Lizzie? She's the twice-married, apparently divorced, glamorous, blond, American stylist who spends more on subscriptions to dating agencies than Elton John spends on flowers. When she rings I put everything on hold because I know I'm in for a long session about her latest relationship. I can usually tell by the way she says "hi, it's Lizzie", whether it was a rat or a Romeo. The last one was super rat.
They met, said Lizzie, three weeks ago through a new sports- orientated agency called Game Set And Match. They had played tennis, gone bowling, jogged. His muscle definition was incredible, the omens looked good, the preliminaries were over and on Friday she had invited him back to her flat for supper and, well, she had changed the sheets and put joss sticks in the bedroom. So what went wrong, I asked.
Before we go any further I should tell you that some screws, wild horses and a truck full of Spanish inquisitors wouldn't have persuaded me to tell anyone what Lizzie told me. There are certain things you take with you to the grave. They had their candle-lit supper, drank quite a lot of wine, listened to her Nilsson Schmilsson tape and then just as she discreetly lit the joss sticks he said: "Listen, I think you're terrific but this relationship isn't going to go any further because the fact is, I'm allergic to your smell." Pow. For a moment I thought I'd heard wrong like that bit in Behind The Wall by Colin Thubron when he's on a flight from Beijing to Shanghai discussing with a woman their respective national prejudices and idiosyncrasies. It's well known that the Chinese think Europeans smell peculiar because we eat dairy produce. After a bit Thubron asks: "By the way, do you think I smell?" "Yes, yes, of course you do," she replies, and it takes some while for him to realise she thought he had said: "Do you think I smile?"
Alas there was no misunderstanding in Lizzie's case. …