The biggest olfactory catastrophe in the history of South Carolina has struck the small fishing village of Murrells Inlet and is spreading rapidly despite efforts to contain the disaster site. Scents 4 Everyone, a perfume manufacturer, began leaking its “Carolina Breeze” fragrance three days ago, through undiscovered cracks in the 100 gallon vats used to combine the yellow jessamine flower essence and other ingredients used to make their signature “his” and “her” scents.
Beyond the colossal environmental hazards, the leak has led to accusations of infidelity, with one worker from a nearby law office viciously attacked by his wife for coming home with an unfamiliar scent. “I tried to tell her that the smell was just in the air and that I would never cheat on her with someone who wore designer imposter perfume,” said David Smith, “but she was just like, ‘Whatever.’”
The perfumes — which includes hints of fresh mandarin and musk for the male fragrance, and magnolia, peach and jasmine for the female fragrance — are designed to linger on the body with a mere spritz. But the gallons of leakage mean that the aroma is here to stay for weeks if not months, and the disaster area will not be confined to just Murrells Inlet. Nearby Myrtle Beach is bracing itself for impact, and Wilmington residents — a full hour away — might not be spared either.
The leak’s impact is not just being felt by falsely accused non-adulterers. Orinthologists have reported a worrying phenomena of “metrosexual” pelicans that are being rejected by their mates. “Pelicans are smelly birds that carry around stinky, dead fish in their throat pouches,” said Laurie Stern. “When their natural stench is diluted by the aroma of sweet smelling flowers, that’s a turn off.”
Wildlife workers say that as part of the costly remediation efforts they may try to capture the rejected birds and bathe them in a bath of salt water and rotten fish before releasing them into the wild.
Criticism of Scents 4 Everyone has been swift and harsh, but the company has been quick to spread the blame, citing “shoddily constructed vats” and “overly vigorous ventilation.” But the landlord avowed any knowledge of fragrance production. “I thought ‘Cents for Everyone’ meant they were coin collectors,” said Harold P. Giffords.
A spokeswoman for the company producing the vats said that they were intended for use in making wholesale soups, and that the alcohol in the perfumes likely eroded the metal, causing the cracks. “We can’t be held responsible for the abusive use of our products,” said Sharon Lee-Mandably.
Lawmakers have been quick to denounce all the companies involved and call for federal assistance. Gov. Mark Sanford, noteworthy for being a fiscal miser, demanded that President Obama declare the region a federal disaster area to make it eligible for federal funds, and requested that FEMA bring needed supplies such as deodorizers and nose plugs. “South Carolinians will be living with the scourge of these pernicious fissures for a generation,” Sanford said. “We need help more than I needed a better PR advice.”
Efforts to reduce the odor have thus far yielded scant success. The first attempt to envelop the factory in a large parachute to contain the smell failed due to the porous material used. Warming up the remaining perfume heightened the odor, to the bemusement of aromatherapists. And recruiting members of the public to spray their own perfumes and colognes into the air to disperse the Carolina Breeze odor merely created a stronger fragrant haze.
In addition to the enduring odor of yellow jessamine, some smelled a whiff of political opportunism as a legacy of the leak. Howard Jessop II, a blogger and former employee of state Sen. Jake Knotts, said Wednesday that his conscience would no longer allow him to remain silent about his affair with Nikki Haley, the leading GOP nominee for governor. “On election day, Nikki and I canoodled before she gave her victory speech,” said Jessop. “I don’t want to go into details, but let’s just say if it were baseball, she’s no bunter. She went for the grand slam, and you can still smell the Carolina Breeze on me as proof.”
Haley received a wave of national attention after Jessop’s former boss, Knotts, called Haley — who is Sikh — a “raghead.” Haley received additional attention after two men with ties to Sanford and Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer claimed to have had affairs with her in the past few years.
When it was pointed out that Haley had campaigned near Murrells Inlet and would have likely picked up the scent then, and that he could have easily sprayed himself and his clothes — redolent of Carolina Breeze — with the perfume to provide circumstantial “evidence,” Jessop clammed up. “What we shared was special, and I won’t say another word about our improper relations. That’s between me and God and her and whatever devil she prays to.”
This article can also be found at thediscust.com.