It was a happy, quiet-ish night at the theater. After an afternoon of some glorious Shakespeare, I was prepared to enjoy one of the greatest war-horse musicals there is in the beautiful Randall Theater in Cedar City, Utah: Les Miserables. After visiting the loo, I joined my friends and sat in the very back row, ready to enjoy the musical that Utahns worship as Celestial, even though it's primarily about whores and prostitution and thieves breaking the law.
About five minutes before the show started, an usher came and gestured for three members of our group of seven to come with her. This was confusing. Had they done something wrong? No. They had been reseated. Somehow in a completely sold out house, they had managed to scrape free seats on the main floor. Lucky.
Ah well. I moved over, closer to the rest of my group.
"Can't you smell it?"
I was confused. ". . . smell what?"
"Be glad. That's why they left."
Oh. Well, I couldn't smell it so it didn't matter. I'd enjoy the show.
But then psychosomatic smells started to taunt my nose. Then some not so psychosomatic smells. I was definitely smelling something. Possibly the group in front of me hadn't showered in a while. Maybe they were particularly method audience members wanting to give me the true French Revolution experience. Or maybe they were decaying. Certainly they had something truly foul for dinner that night on top of these previous offenses. I pulled out a bottle of peppermint oil from my purse and spread the love to the rest of my group.
Only that just cleared my sinuses and made it easier for me to smell the others. Ick.
During intermission we contemplated asking to be reseated as well, but there was no hope. The theater was booked, and no one walks out of Les Mis. So we returned to find the great offender taking off her sweater. This did not help.
There was only one thing to be done. All four of us shielded our nose with scarves, coats and shirts. I was doing double duty like a bat or a vampire with one hand holding up my coat over my nose and one hand holding the peppermint oil bottle a scant millimeter away from my nose at all times. The others contemplated the benefits of hot tamale nose plugs. I very nearly shouted to the stage "NO YOU DON'T!" when Thenardier sang of getting used to the smell in the sewers.
I had to ask those who had dodged the smell bullet afterward if the show was good. Apparently it was excellent. Then those of us who had survived the back row regaled our story of olfactory woe to much laughter that was sure to have confused theatergoers who had felt uplifted and edified by the experience. To celebrate our survival we decided to go buy some ice cream. I contemplated snorting said ice cream. Also, I'm probably going to have to put my coat in a plastic bag in the basement for a few weeks like you do with lice so as to avoid the spread of such an accostation of the senses.
Thank goodness I've seen this show before.