Performance Great, Audience Stank

Who was responsible for your worst experience in an audience?  Was it the man in front of you who was 6’6”? how about the guy next to you who snored? Have you sat next to a lady who chewed her gum noisily or chatted with her friend throughout the performance?  A candy un-wrapper?  A farter? A fidgeter?  A texter?  A child who fell asleep in your lap?  A humming hearing aid?

Well, let me tell you … you can’t top what I recently sat through; she gets the award for The Worst Disturbance by an audience member.

We had perfect seats at SUNY Purchase to see David Sedaris.  The 4 of us settled in

David Sedaris

David Sedaris

for what promised to be entertaining, funny and clever.  And then … 2 men and a woman between them sat in front of us.  Normal looking people.  Nothing notable about their demeanor or their behavior.  And then it hit us like a hunk of limburger cheese topped with anchovies.  The woman gave off an odor unlike any I have ever smelled.  It wasn’t bad hygiene (otherwise known as B.O.), but, rather, something indescribable, though I will try.  Perfume?  Perhaps, but being a perfume aficionado, I pretty much know what cloying scents are like.  This didn’t qualify.  Perhaps a body lotion, but it was more medicinal, more acrid.  Maybe some hair product.  Whatever it was, it suffused the air like tear gas, neither dissipating nor lessening.  It got in our noses and didn’t go away.  A day later, I smell it still. Foul, sharp and malodorous.

holding nose

Driving home, I had to open the windows tho it was 34 degrees outside.  It permeated our noses, our very beings.  I arrived home at 11pm and promptly undressed, showered and washed my hair.  That oughta do it, I thought.  Nope.  Still in my nose.  So I took out my neti pot and flushed my nasal passages.  A bit better, but not gone.  I later learned that my friend had to put Vicks up his nose for some relief.

The next day, my closet smelled and I realized I had thrown my clothes in the laundry basket there; I had to do a laundry. smelly laundry


What we should have done was tried to find different seats, although the audience was rather full.  I do know, however, that I will never go through another suffocating and dreadful two hours like that again; I’d rather miss the show.

smelleezeKudos to my good friend, Larry, who chose the title for this post!


  1. Linda Levine

    Amazing STRONG response to amazing STRONG smell! Linda Levine


    • And thank you for reading and commenting. Yes, a unique and unpleasant experience. Your presence mitigated the awfulness of the stink!

  2. Larry Levine

    Your description hit it on the head. Almost like being there…ooops, I was. So difficult to describe a smell yet you did it quite well. Your vow is right on and it would have been wortth it to find worse seats, even partially obscured that the experience we had. But we learned a lesson. Let your nose know it’s in charge.

    • Thanks for reading and commenting. I agree; worse seats would have been worth the move. I STILL smell it! Yech. (Oddly, Marty smelled not a thing…. that’s what 30 years of smoking did to his sense of smell.)


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