#370 The Pheromone Party

A couple of weeks ago, Apocalypstick clued me into a strange sounding event called a Pheromone Party. It’s a singles mingle party with a twist. Everyone brings a white cotton t-shirt that they’ve slept in (and not laundered) for three nights. You’re supposed to keep the t-shirt in a Ziploc bag after you wake up in the freezer as that purportedly helps preserve your sex scent. The bags are brought to the party where you and your bag are given a number. The bags are all placed on a table and you can sniff people’s t-shirts. If you find one you are “attracted to,” then you get your photo taken with the bag and its number. The photos are displayed on a screen so if someone sees their number and thinks you’re attractive, they go find you and you make babies and live happily ever after. The theory behind it, of course, is pheromones, those mysterious olfactory odors that are supposedly one of the factors behind attraction.

Silly as it sounds, this is based on an actual study by some dude named Claus Wedekind. The science behind it involves a cell-surface protein called a Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) and blah blah blah sweaty t-shirt sex. Whatevs. I had to go this thing so I bought my ticket immediately.

Despite my abundance of white cotton t-shirts, I only have a few “nice” ones. The ones that  aren’t Hanes t-shirts that I got when I was college that one would only call white in the vaguest of terms and have more holes than OJ Simpson’s alibi. My nice ones are kind of expensive and I didn’t want to give one up but embarrassment prevailed over economics and I decided to sacrifice one of them for the sake of this party.

I didn’t follow the suggestion of keeping my t-shirt in a Ziploc bag every night. In fact, I didn’t even have a Ziploc bag that could fit my t-shirt on the day of the party. A quick trip to the Rite-Aid down the street remedied that. Bagged smelly t-shirt ready, I drove over to the Cinefamily Theater where the party was being held.

In particularly un-Greg-like fashion, I arrived 15 minutes “late.” There were about 10 people standing in line at the sign in table and they were all dudes except for one girl who was actually kind of cute.

I eavesdropped as she checked in since she was only a few people in front of me and memorized her number. My plan was to find her bag, get my photo taken with it and see if she came and found me. Was this cheating? Yes and no. Yes, I know it was cheating. Rimshot!

After a few minutes, I was at the table. I gave them my Ziploc bag and they gave me my number. Then I headed inside.

It took me a few minutes of aimless wandering to realize that the party was behind the theater, in an outdoor patio area. Quite a few people were already there. There was a table near the entrance with a giant sign and bags of t-shirts already on it.

The blue post-its denoted male shirts, the pink ones were female. Not surprisingly, most of the bags were male.

There was an area setup in the back where you could get your photo taken with a bag and a bar on the side. I got a beer and then headed for the t-shirt table.

I noticed right away that this was going to be a disaster. The bags were all just thrown on the table as people checked in. There was no separation between the female and male bags. Also, the table was in a very cramped area of the patio so a wall of people blocked any access to the bags. I stood around, trying to get at some but had no luck. Eventually they opened up a second table so I headed over there.

I started sniffing bags. That’s when I realized unless someone was particularly pungent, all I could smell was plastic. Other people realized this as well so pretty soon, people were yanking the shirts out of the bag and burying their noses in them. I’m not at Howie Mandel levels of germophobia, but this really grossed me out. First of all, you’re plunging your nose, mouth and face into the shirt of a stranger, a shirt that stranger has been wearing for three nights. Second of all, once that bag’s been around a few times, you’re sticking your face into a shirt that a bunch of other strangers have stuck their face into. Kind of disgusting.

Still, I got in close to a bunch of shirts to be able to actually smell them. For the most part, they smelled exactly the same. Pretty neutral. Some smelled a little spicy. Some like perfume which I thought was cheating. But I really didn’t find anything I was that interested in.

I also wasn’t able to find that one girl’s bag. Because at this point, people had taken bags off the table to stand in line to get their picture taken so there were few actually left on the tables. This was the dumbest part of the whole party. Why did people have to take the whole bag for the photo? It would’ve made more sense for people just to write down a list of numbers of the ones they were interested in. Half of the bags were standing in line most of the time so you couldn’t even smell all of them if you wanted to. Not to mention the line for the photos was incredibly long. There should have been at least two photo stations.

Eventually, the photos were sent to a TV screen in the patio area and on the movie screen back in the theater.

I talked to a few people but nobody interesting so I headed out to the theater where it was quieter and I could look at the photos. That’s where I ended up meeting a cool girl named Kate who also came out to sit. We chatted for awhile. She was smart, funny and interesting which seemed to be qualities lacking in most of the females there.

Eventually, she went off with her friend to sniff more shirts and I’d had enough at this point.

Overall it was an interesting concept completely ruined by execution. The biggest thing is they need to ditch the whole taking the photo with the bag idea. I know it makes for fun photos, but it makes it extremely difficult to sniff as many shirts as possible which is kind of the point. Also, they really need to organize the bags into men and women sections as well as have a bigger venue.

So I didn’t fall in love with anybody’s scent but I did meet someone the “old fashioned” way. You know, by talking with them and finding them interesting. Also, the party was written up in the LA Weekly. That’s me in the last photo, looking terribly stressed out trying to get to the shirt table.

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