09 Dec Smell is the strongest sense
If you’re a woman who grew up in the 80s then any time you smell Body Shop’s White Musk perfume, like me, you’re taken back to your teens. I smell that stuff and I’m transported to my grade 10 bedroom with my Gone With the Wind poster on the wall; my red ghetto blaster and shoe box of mix tapes.
When I began to travel extensively, I had this little trick to help relive my travel memories: every country had its own scented lotion. As long as I travelled in one country, I used one smelly lotion and voila–the smell was associated with the place forever; Norway was mango; Iceland was orange; Poland was vanilla. Leaving a little lotion in the bottom of the container, I pull them every so often to remind me of these places– and it’s like some magician is messing with my head: the smell takes me back immediately. Try it.
And even one of my favourite poems, The Cinnamon Peeler by Michael Ondaatje, is about smell’s seductive powers.
If I were a cinnamon peeler
I would ride your bed
And leave the yellow bark dust
On your pillow.
Your breasts and shoulders would reek
You could never walk through markets
without the profession of my fingers
floating over you. The blind would
stumble certain of whom they approached
though you might bathe
under rain gutters, monsoon.
….and the end
your belly to my hands
in the dry air and said
I am the cinnamon
Peeler’s wife. Smell me.
Lately I’ve had some smell encounters that are less than lovely. In fact, it’s down right nasty. A skunk has found its way under my home and parked himself there. Spraying his love juice all over the furnace, the spray is now emanating through my heat vents. But it’s not just regular skunk smell–I think buddy has kicked the bucket. Yes, stinky butt dude has up and died and his death smell is in my clothes, my sofas, matts, and even my car now smells of this guy’s death rays. But more than that, when I leave my place, the smell follows me–it’s stuck in my nose hairs. It’s in my skin.
As a result, until the skunk is found and removed, I’m sofa surfing. I’m trying to be upbeat. Really. But if I hear another freaking holly jolly xmas tune, I’m going to take a shotgun to the radio. Maybe it’s time to buy a new lotion and go on a trip. Soon, but not soon enough!