As we sat in my car outside a silent movie theater in Los Angeles, my friend anxiously opened a plastic bag containing a white T-shirt she’d slept in for the past three nights. “Does it smell like me?” she asked nervously, gesturing the open end toward my face. I stuck my nose into the bag and inhaled.
We were about to attend a pheromone-based speed dating party with the following rules:
1. Find a clean white T-shirt.
2. Sleep in only that shirt for three consecutive nights.
3. Bring the shirt to the party sealed in a bag.
As we walked into the theater, coordinators assigned each of our bags a unique color-coded sticker (pink for female, blue for male), and tossed them into a pile. A pack of hipsters nursing PBRs sat in the wooden theater seats, slightly amused by the bizarre 70s Egyptian-themed silent porn projected onto the screen.
In the courtyard, 20-somethings mingled by the outdoor bar. Did they think alcohol would make us okay with sniffing strangers’ dirty laundry? Mounds of bags sat on two long tables – beckoning our nostrils.
We were instructed to sniff as many T-shirts of the sex we were attracted to, and select shirts that innately smelled the sexiest.
I came across bag number 166, which shockingly smelled exactly like my grandmother’s house – a delightful mix of Christmas and chicken parmesan. The point was to trust our instincts, right? I went with it.
A photographer snapped a photo of the bag and I, and coordinators displayed the image on a big screen. If grandma-boy found me attractive, he could strike up a conversation and begin the courting process: a perfect biological match — or was it?