Dear Aunty Social: Smelly in Seattle


My boyfriend and I live quite far from town and spend a lot of time in the car — usually his. He bought some air fresheners for his car, which made me nauseated and gave me headaches. I asked him to please remove them, but he refused because he doesn’t want to waste the $2.50. He said he likes the smell. We have two other vehicles we can take. I felt it was such a small thing he could do to make me feel better. He doesn’t agree. What is your opinion on the matter?

–Stinky in Seattle


Dear Stinky in Seattle,

I am sympathetic to your smelly predicament as I am none too fond of “Eau de Chemicals” nor do those air fresheners ever smell remotely like the actual thing they are marketed to smell like and sometimes a product is marketed to smell like something that we would never have smelled in our lives and therefore we are clueless to verify the accuracy of the scent.  Take “Black Ice” for example. Have you ever bent down, nose to pavement, to get a whiff? Perhaps think back in history when you found yourself waiting at the car wash? Instead of blankly starring at the daytime talk show blaring from the one TV for which the remote is held in safe-keeping behind the desk surrounded by the shiny display of impulse purchases including the de rigueur car-wash items including greeting cards, you’ve somehow talked yourself into the dreamy fantasy purchase of the “New Car Scent” air freshener. How did that work out for you Dear?

Not that long ago, I was subjected to an abhorrent mishap.  It was as if someone had suddenly hit me over the head and when I came to, I had the most searing sharp headache along with a sickening nauseous feeling that usually accompanies the start migraine or the morning after a bit of overindulgence.  I was at my desk working on my column and drinking a Gin Rickey when it hit me, this crazy overpowering smell engulfed my senses and at that moment, I knew this was an OLFACTORY INVASION, the likes of which I hope you never have to experience.

I recall, trying not to breathe while gulping at the same time in an effort to suppress my gag reflex and very tentatively walking toward the sickening redolent odor. In utter disbelief, I realized it was getting even stronger and even more pungent. I bent down toward my beloved dog and my sweet angel was covered with the stench! I ran to my phone, head spinning, stomach somersaulting from the noxious, pernicious stench.

That day I sent my dog to doggy daycare and It turns out the car deodorizer had broken open on my precious pooch dousing him, his leash and collar with this putrid smell.  This was not one of those little fake pine-scented Christmas tree-shaped things that hangs from the rear-view mirror of some BO, goat, and garlic smelling taxi.  I didn’t know if it was “Big Sur”, “Island Fresh”, Seaside” or “Rain” scent.  Whatever it was, in the words of the advertisers, it was, “120 Days of Freshness! Controllable freshness you choose the scent intensity” except this was 120 days’ worth of chemicals on my dog all in one day! I didn’t get to choose the intensity nor was there any way to control the sustained release of freshness!

I recall staggering around my flat trying to figure out what to do and the smell just kept getting stronger. The unpleasantness of this situation was escalating by the moment.  After several texts back and forth, I phoned the doggy daycare proprietor and I must admit, there was no shortage of expletives as I emphatically expressed my utter frustration.  I believe the call went something like this:


Doggy Daycare Proprietor, “I never said it was ok.”

Suffice it to say, the dog was bathed, a new leash and collar were purchased and the windows were left open in the middle of winter for several days, I stopped using her services.

Now Smelly in Savannah, I detect the scent of drama so let’s talk about your silly little problem the least of which is the smell.

There are three possible issues going on:

  1. Because you spend a lot of time in the car, unlike you, your boyfriend may have developed “sensory adaptation,” meaning, the nose doesn’t always know and gets used to a scent. To prove this point, think about when you visit your dear friend, the one who actually dumps selfish boyfriends like yours for an even more God-forsaken existence with her 3 cats that she swears act just like dogs yet somehow, she has no idea that her home smelled like a litter big box.
  2. Your boyfriend is cheap. You mentioned you have two additional vehicles at your disposal yet your boyfriend will not dispose of what’s bothering your nose.  If he can afford more than one vehicle, he shouldn’t be crying over spilt milk which is actually the reason why, in 1952, Julius Sämann invented the Little Tree car freshener in the first place. I am unable to confirm if Julius ever smelled an actual Christmas Tree as the same company that produces them is also responsible for the Black Ice car freshener, I referred to earlier.
  3. You are too nice. I would not stand for a headache let alone sit for one in the odor mobile.

Since you asked for my advice, I will give you my two cents about your boyfriend’s non-scents:

  1. You need to communicate, in no uncertain terms, that malodorous misadventures never result in amorous pleasures. Perhaps he’ll smell what you’re spraying!
  2. Stop being nice! Your RANKing will go down and people can SMELL a victim Dear.
  3. Take a moment to think about what he’s really trying to cover up with that air freshener and make sure it’s not you.
  4. Your boyfriend’s car may smell and his attitude certainly stinks when it comes to your wellbeing. Maybe use that nose of yours to sniff out a new mate or take a break to stop and smell the roses, Dear.  Someone is bound to find you heaven scent.
  5. If all else fails and you decide to get a cat, please rescue as well as ask a trusted friend if your home smells like urine.

And remember Dear Stenchy in Savannah, my advice is, never turn your nose up at the road less travelled.

Love and Air Kisses,

Aunty Social

Editor’s note: Dear Aunty Social is masterfully written by Shelley Brown, whose career as an advice columnist continues to blossom, as she offers comfort and a reality check with unparalleled candor. Her unique ability to read between the lines and respond with, wit, wisdom, and radical in-your-face honesty will continue to win her the loyalty of millions of fans worldwide. Click here to enjoy your favorite Aunty’s entire archives of tastefully delivered bad advice.


Aunty Social
Aunty Social
Modern life can be hideously complicated which is why I, the sassy, irreverent Aunty Social is here to help. From heartbreaking relationship issues to table manners to nosey neighbors, I always do my very best to deliver brutally blunt, in your face, no-nonsense bad advice with the wit and wisdom of a lady thrice my (none of your business) age. I'm ready and willing to solve your problems without beating around the bush. Need some bad advice? – Just click on my email icon below to send me your problems and leave your cares behind! And then come back and visit me now and then because who knows? –I might actually get around to answering my emails. Please be patient, because what I lack in speed, I make up for in gibberish.

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  1. Hilarious, Shelley! Thank you for bringing your creative expression!! I adore Aunty Social. She lives quite the rich life of experiences, doesn’t she? Wow. 🙂 This allows here to be colorful, honest, and comical in her responses. As someone quite sensitive to smells, I can identify with much of what you’ve shared here!