Sniff test

Is there any sense memory more vivid than smell?

Consider Easter, which we celebrated last Sunday. The mere word “Easter” conjures up remembered aromas of baked ham and yeasty bread and fresh-cut lilies. The pungent sulfur of dyed eggs. The heavenly scent of chocolate.

When I was growing up in Arkansas, Easter was one of the dress-up holidays. We boys squirmed through church in our creaky leather shoes and mothball suits while all around us the adults looked and smelled their very best. The air was so thick with White Shoulders and Evening in Paris, you could practically chew it. The crinkled old ladies who ran everything at church always smelled of baby powder. The pastor was an Aqua Velva man.

By the time the final “amen” rolled around, we kids couldn’t wait to burst out into the fresh air. We practically rolled in the grass, like dogs spritzed with perfume.

I don’t know if the close, mingling scents of those early Easters are responsible, but I’ve never been much for after-shave (see photo) or cologne of any kind. Soap and “fresh talc” deodorant do the job for me. My preferred shampoo smells like flea dip, but I rinse it out and it doesn’t linger. Why would I get out of the shower, all fresh and clean, then put on a cloying artificial scent?

If a man splashes on Brut in the morning, he’s pretty much stuck with it all day. And so are all the folks who get near him. Such fragrances cover up some possible unpleasantness, sure, but they can be overpowering. If your lunch tastes like Brut, you’re probably overdoing it.

I was traveling lately, and encountered one miasma of aroma after another. Racing along an airport concourse, you’re hit in the nose by fragrance after wafting fragrance. It’s nearly as bad as those department store perfume counters where heavily made-up animatronic robot girls spray passers-by with Poison and Passion and Paris.

What’s that? Excuse me one moment. Sorry.

OK, I’m back. I’ve been informed that those are not animatronic robot girls in the department stores, but actual humans. I regret the error.

The only time I experiment with scent is when I’m on the road. Hotel bathrooms come with the strangest products.

I was in an expensive joint in Portland where the soap was labeled (and I’m not making this up): “Warm Vanilla Sugar Moisture-Rich Cleansing Bar, Infused With Real Vanilla Extract.” The shampoo and conditioner were both “Coconut Lime Verbena.”

By the time I’d showered up, I smelled like an all-you-can-eat dessert buffet. Plump children followed me around all day, drooling.

Maybe they thought I was the Easter bunny.


Patty said...

And, if only, most of those heavily perfumed people knew about allergies and the pain and suffering they cause the unsuspecting person who is immediately ill because they bath in the stuff!

Celeste White said...

Or perhaps . . . Easter Bigfoot??