It was provoked by the woman by the handcreams,
Testing the tester,
Squeezing liberal quantities of pink gunge,
Slathering her hands with the welcome freebie,
Unwittingly unleashing the fragrance.
A pink perfumed bubble engulfed her,
Intense, fragrant particles filled the air
Then escaped, spreading rapidly
Into the surrounding territories
To those with less pampered hands.
In my unglamorous world
Bathroom cleaners beckoned.
Colourful plastic bottles of bleachy fluid, froth and foam,
Different shaped vessels, lids, containers,
Various ways to squirt, pour or spray contents,
The choice was overwhelming.
But I was focussed, on a mission,
I just had to concentrate, not get distracted,
Or forget why I was there.
But then it happened.
I should’ve anticipated it,
In fact it happens so regularly
I rarely even think about it,
And there’s nothing I can do to stop it anyway.
Convulsive expulsion of air
Via the nose or mouth,
Most often due to naughty foreign particles
Irritating the nasal mucosa.
AKA ‘a sneeze’.
Well, several of them actually,
And in quick succession too.
No tissue, of course,
Still in dog walking gear,
The humble tissue isn’t necessary kit
In the great outdoors.
But here, perhaps….
The air in the aisle
Seemlessly blended perfume with sternutation stuff.
‘Bloody cosmetics!’ I chuntered,
‘What a pain they are!’
I looked behind me,
Hoping the lady had had her fill of freebies,
And thankfully, she had –
There she was, at the other end of the aisle,
Apparently in a sudden and inexplicable hurry.
Thankfully, the aisle was now empty
So no more concerns about
Unexpected releases of smelly stuff,
And free to make an important decision
About toilet blocks.
I meandered my way till-wards,
Thankful that the aisles were fairly empty
Even the check-outs were pretty clear.
Then I saw her again,
Apparently in a bit of a tizz,
Obviously now regretting her freebie-fest
And clinging onto a staff member’s arm,
Pointing at me.
Media-induced hysteria, yet again.
Have these people no shame?
Or any awareness of the fear they instill?
Can’t I even sneeze in public now
Without being labelled
A menace to society,
A selfish super-spreader?
Guilty as charged
In the absence of any evidence?
My drenched and splatted appearance
Offered plenty clues of time spent outdoors, in winter storms.
Silly hysterical woman with perfumed hands,
I owe you neither explanation nor apology,
But I will look you straight in the eye as I leave.
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