Tuesday, January 16, 2007

What Do You Smell Like?

Go ahead, sniff. I'll wait. They say that the sense of smell is the most powerful memory trigger (whoever they are). I'm sure they're right, because it's true for me. Unlike most people, I've always noticed smells. Some people can walk through a dairy barn, pizza shop, or massage parlor without twitching an olfactory muscle. Not so much for me. The aroma of a place or person will affect my mood quicker than a burnt out light, cold draft, or wonky bits (because I'm not afraid of the dark, own sweaters, and kinda like wonky bits). I took an inventory of memorable smells recently, and I have a weird collection, I hafta tell you. For example, there was the elusive musty smell of the RV we rented for a trip to New York when I was young. When the Winnebago arrived in our driveway, we explored it eagerly as though it were the tomb of the Pharaohs. By the end of a whole week of togetherness with my two younger sisters, mom, and dad, each stop would have us piling out as though a diaper pail were on fire inside. Every once in a while (usually in an old cabin or some such) I'll catch a whiff of old paneling and cheap upholstery that will bring me back to that vacation. I can't catch the scent of a cigar without cringing for the Old Spice that always went with it (this was because a stogie-loving coworker thought cheap cologne would mask the smoke, and applied it liberally). Pickles remind me of spiders. Not so much with relish, but every jar of Kosher Dills I open makes me cringe a little (we used to catch large, black and yellow garden spiders in pickle jars and try to watch them fight. Mostly they just played house.). My grandmother used Jean Nate products exclusively - soap, schpritz, powder, and whatnot. That sweet, dusty aroma is enough to conjure warm enveloping hugs, oatmeal cookies, and soft smushy kisses. I can't wear Polo cologne, because in high school our heavyweight champion wrestler was always doused in it. To this day, it reminds me of very large, very sweaty men. My first real crush, The Girl Next Door (and across 4 lanes of traffic) had this perfume that absolutely captivated me. It had a light, girly scent that matched her cute brown eyes and long dark hair. I stole her scarf one winter, and kept it for weeks. I had to give it back so she could recharge the aroma. In my first job as a maintenance worker in an office building, I found one office just filled with the sweet perfume. Every time I went through, it would make me think of TGND. Until one day, I met the lady who belonged to the office. She was ancient, obnoxious, domineering, and most unpleasant. I think it cured me of my attraction to that particular aroma. I love the smell of pipe smoke. Cherry or whiskey tobacco are the best. It reminds me of my dad, standing in his basement workshop, puttering with a broken doodad or a model airplane. Normally, he'd smoke Winstons all day long (thankfully, he quit many years ago). But in the workshop, every once in a while, he'd get out his pipe and fill the whole downstairs with a rich, homey aroma. A few weeks ago I ran out of my favorite flavor of Axe. I'm rather obsessive about not stinking, and also about not mixing scents. I'll get the matching body wash, deodorant, and spray so I don't walk around smelling like some weird chemical spill (I did that once. My shampoo and soap combined to make a delicious bouquet of Raid Hornet Spray). They were out of the matching body wash, so I tried a new version. It smelled okay in the store, and the next day I was pleased with the overall effect. However, for several days, I kept looking over my shoulder wondering who was standing next to me. I didn't smell like me, and it was weird. My question: What smells trigger YOUR memory circuits? C'mon, there's no limit on commenting.

1 comment:

kenju said...

What? you mean you don't use hornet spray everyday? What's wrong with hornet spray? LOL

My first boyfriend wore Canoe and that is my favorite men's scent.

I once dated a guy whose underarm scent was so good I wanted to bury my nose in his armpits. He vowed he didn't use any deodorant and that he had always smelled that way. I wasn't sure I believed him, but he sure did have pheromones or something like that going for him.

The smells that get me going are cood cooking smells, like turkey roasting or steak grilling. I love the scent of rosemary and I go in the yard and run my hands through it and rub it on my neck.

My favorite perfumes are Chanel #5 and My Sin by Lanvin (they don't make it anymore) and Shalimar by Guerlain. But mr. kenju is very sensitive to smells, so I can't wear perfume much anymore.

The best smell in the world? A clean baby.