One Stink at a Time 

Enough with the wacky air fresheners already

Somebody tell me: who in the canned-compressed-air business decided that the air I use to clean my computer needs to have a smell to it? And once they decided on a smell for compressed air, why pick fake lemon?
A few days back, I went to the computer store to buy a few gizmos and gadgets. While I was there I bought a can of compressed air, which is useful for blowing the dust off computer parts. Well, don’t you know, the first time I squeezed the trigger on that sumbitch, it shot out air that had a sick-sweet smell to it. I looked at the can and, sure enough, it was labeled “Lemon-Scented Air Duster.” Believe me when I tell you, the scent wasn’t very lemony. It was more like a mix of bug spray and old mop water. Somebody tell me: who in the canned-compressed-air business decided that the air I use to clean my computer needs to have a smell to it? And once they decided on a smell for compressed air, why pick fake lemon? I’ll admit that I’m no fan of air fresheners. Faithful readers may recall that about four years ago, I tested a Glade Plug-In™ air freshener to see if it would catch fire. Well, I couldn’t make it catch fire under normal conditions—that is, plugged into a wall outlet. But once I pulled the oil pack out of the Plug-In and heated it up to about 120 degrees, the oil pack flamed up and let fly a pungent cloud of fake apple-cinnamon smell that stuck to my wife Brenda, who was helping me with the experiment. To this day, Brenda smells a little like a Plug-In. Best I can tell, air fresheners don’t actually freshen any air. If anything, they make the air stale. Air in a clean house smells pretty good without any freshener floating around. I’d say the Jowers house is about average clean. I don’t really smell any odors in my house unless I leave for a few days. When I come home, I notice that the house smells like wood and plaster. That makes sense, because the inside of the house is pretty much made out of wood and plaster. Now that dogfriend Rufus lives in the house, I can smell just a little dog odor. And since we have a cat, I notice a little catbox odor if I go near the cat room, which I don’t. The smells at my house are nowhere near bad enough to make me want to go out and buy some air fresheners. Even if I wanted air fresheners in my house, I don’t think I could find any that would suit me. For instance, there’s a Glade air-freshener scent called “berry burst.” Here’s how it’s described on Glade’s website: “Strappy sandals. Summer camp with summer friends. Perfect weather every day. A summer flavored with sun-kissed berries will live forever in your heart.” Strappy sandals? I don’t want to smell anybody’s strappy sandals. And I really don’t want to smell any summer friends from summer camp. Thinking about fake smells makes me think about fake flavors. I’ve noticed that any food or scent described as “berry” doesn’t taste or smell like any real berries. Berries vary. Strawberries look good and taste good. Raspberries are good and good for you. Blueberries are good with everything. But pokeberries smell sour, and they’ll kill you if you eat enough of them. Besides “berry burst,” Glade’s got an “ocean blue” scent. Here’s how they describe it: “a sparkling wave that washes everything clean. Reflections of freshness submerge you in balance.” Really? After water and salt, the main ingredient in the ocean is dead and rotting sea creatures. That’s what you smell when you’re smelling the ocean. It’s a faint smell, and I enjoy it when I’m at the ocean, but ocean smell isn’t something I’d want to shoot into my living room. I’m not sure what the good folks at Glade were trying to say about “reflections of freshness,” but I’m dang sure I don’t want an air freshener to “submerge me in balance.” I guess I’m old-school. I can remember the smell of the Jowers house back in Burnettown, S.C. My mother kept the place clean. It smelled like pine floors and Spic and Span powder. You could lick any surface in the house, and not pick up a speck of dust, or anything else, on your tongue. Fast forward to the present day, and we’ve got air fresheners that you spray in the air, air fresheners that you stick into outlets, and air fresheners that put on a multicolor light show. Pardon my saying so, but all they do is superimpose their own industrial-strength chemical stink over whatever natural stink they’re trying to cover up. I don’t know about anybody else, but if I’ve got to smell a busted sewer, I’d just as soon not have to smell Glade’s “vanilla cream” on top of it. It might put me off vanilla ice cream forever. I say bring back the Spic and Span powder. It’s still available and it comes with “a great new Sun Fresh scent.” If by that they mean the smell of cotton sheets dried on a clothesline, I’m sold.

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