Dear Annie: This morning, I spent 45 minutes in a relatively small space participating in a biweekly Spin class. It’s a great class with a bunch of regulars, and I usually enjoy it very much. This morning, however, the small room smelled like the compost pile of a funereal florist.
A not-so-regular attendee, drenched in essential oils, was exercising away and completely unaware or unconcerned that she was infusing the rest of us with rotten flora. I have been going to this gym for 30 years and worked up health sweats with bunches of other people doing the same. I’m not hypersensitive to body odor or the average stuff that comes in a spray or mist, but I left today’s class 15 minutes early with a headache.
I know that sometimes the combinations of oils people mix to treat their aches in body or psyche make for a cloud of funk. Even I use an arthritis cream and apply it after I shower in the morning, and I’m sure that whatever mild odor it holds goes with me out the door. I know that sometimes the aroma is part of the treatment or cure. But where is the line between feeling better and stinking up the place? -- Wondering Why at the Y in Wisconsin
Dear Wondering Why: It’s time to clear the air, whether by talking directly to this woman or by talking to the instructor privately. Many cycling and hot-yoga websites specifically ask that participants not wear perfume or cologne. Your instructor might make an announcement to this end at the start of class or include that information where the class listing is posted.
As a rule, it’s best to wash off any fragrances before hitting the gym and sweating in an enclosed space with strangers or, for that matter, friends -- anyone with a nose.
Dear Annie: I have a friend, “Stuart,” whom I’ve known for 10 years now. He’s been a good friend. The problem is that every time we catch up for a drink, he’s always talking about his parents, who passed away a year apart from each other. It’s been three years now, but without fail, he’ll talk about his parents incessantly every time we get together. I try to sympathize with him. But also, I want to see him move on. How can I do that? I’ve always heard time heals. -- At a Loss
Dear At a Loss: Time does heal a great deal, but it’s no panacea. Stuart seems to need something more to help him process and progress. Encourage him to see a counselor or find a grief support group. Be patient with him, and continue being the good friend that you are.
Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about Annie Lane and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.