« Pet Peaves by Lisa Daily | Main | Get Me a Live Human »

February 10, 2009

Mysterious Smells

Mysterious Smells

By Sarah

One of the hardest senses to capture in a scene, I've found as a writer, is that of smell. I often describe what a setting looks like, how it sounds or even, depending on the masculine love interest, how he feels.Smell But the odor? Forget it. I have to make a mental note to write how stuff smells and even then I rarely pull it off accurately.

And, yet, what is more basic, more pre-lingual than the ability of our noses to sniff into the air and go ewww? Like this monkey, for example, who didn't exactly sniff the air, but still....

Take New York City. For me, the city always smells like roasted chestnuts. I don't know if there's a lot of Roasted chestnutschestnut roasting going on or if that's the smell of a steamy subway, but there you have it. However, for years there's been another odor infiltrating the air, a sweet maple syrup smell that would come and go. No one knew why until, lo and behold, the city discovered the culprit - a factory across the Hudson that used fenugreek, an herb used in curry. So much for the Willy Wonka touch.

Then there's the issue of Susan Foster's house. Susan Foster was a girl I knew growing up whose mother had been a home ec teacher back in the day. I loved her house, not because it was so much fun (she had guppies, though, that gave birth) or because she had loads of colorful telephone wire that could be bent into jewelry, but because there was a clean smell to the place. Think Tide detergent meets gasoline spilled on the concrete floor of a suburban garage. I found it to be so wholesome and Brady Bunch, such a contrast to my complicated family. I began to crave it.

When I got a home of my own decades later, miles away from my tidy Pennsylvania neighborhood, I tried to replicate the Foster smell. I bought Tide and Downy and all I got were skin rashes. Maybe the secret  Tide squeaky clean Tide formula had changed over the years or perhaps my house in Vermont was too rustic, but it was nowhere near the Fosters'. My daughter says her friends say our house smells like soap (the Foster influence) and wood stove (the reality). Since getting Fred, I'm sure you could throw in the musky Basset hound in there, too. I have no idea since I live here 24/7 and have rather lost perspective.

HOWEVER, I am happy to report that the pigs next door are gone, slaughtered this fall. If you haven't caught a whiff of eau d' porcine on a humid August day, you do Pigsnot know what it's like to pass out from olfactory overload. Never did I step outside and go green (and not in an Obama way) at their fragrant odors without being reminded of the classic question posed by Jerry Seinfeld: can a smell kill?

One smell we can't figure out in our house is that of rotten eggs in our basement after someone takes a bath and lets the water run out. It's not the septic, that we've ruled out. It's something in the ventilation system and it needs to go.

Worst and most frustrating mysterious house smell? Dead mouse. It's gross and you cannot pinpoint the source. One day,= you're going into the basement to do laundry and there it is: dead mouse smell. But where? In the walls? Behind the paint cans? I once knew someone who sprinkled rat poisoning throughout her house and had to live with the dead mouse smell for days, perhaps weeks, as the critters rotted around her. Yuck.

Supposedly, smell triggers our memories quicker than any other sense and is much more intertwined in our thought processes than we realize. My mother's "church perfume" was Estee Lauder, for example, andEstee lauder to this day if I happen to run into someone wearing it, I am immediately thrown back in time to Sunday mornings at The Cathedral of the Nativity in Bethlehem, my mother next to me  in her tweed coat and red lips whispering the Nicene Creed and leaving out the part about Christ spending time in hell.

Naturally, this brings me back to Amazon's Kindle and Kindle 2. Sure, they might hold thousands of books that can be bought and downloaded within  minutes. But can they do scratch 'n sniff? Hah! Let's see you tackle that one, Jeff Bezos.

So what do smells mean to you? And if Joss Whedon has the "horrible sing along blog," can we have a horrible stink along blog?

Man, talk about a set up.....



TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Mysterious Smells:


My mother wore Giorgio for most of my childhood. Now that I'm living overseas and far away from her, sometimes I go to the store on base and spray some on myself (even though I'm allergic to most perfumes now) so that I can bring her to me.

My bad smell story happened the first Thanksgiving that my husband and I celebrated as a married couple. Per the instructions, I thawed the frozen turkey out for days before cooking it. About three days after the holiday, our kitchen began to smell like a dead animal. Really rank. We pulled a tray out from the underneath the refrigerator that was filled with blood that had dripped from the turkey while it thawed. It was horrific. From then on, I have double-bagged my frozen turkey as it thawed.

I had a mouse die in my bedroom wall once, and it was horrible. Now that springtime is a'comin, the fields with "natural" fertilizer will announce themselves, especially in Amish country. I remember when we took my daughter to orientation at her college, which is in the middle of nowhere, one of the students felt obligated to tell us, "It doesn't always smell like this." I actually don't mind it much, though.

My mother's perfume was Estee Lauder's White Shoulders. It will always be hers.

My great fear, with 3 dogs, is that someone will come in my house and smell dog, or dog pee. I grill everyone who comes in, and hope they're telling the truth.

Gotta mention Proust and the madeleine. Thousands of pages starting from a single smell.

On a more prosaic note, don't realtors recommend the smells of fresh bread and cinnamon rolls?

To this day, the smell of diesel fuel means comfort, warmth, salvation. This comes from hours spent in my childhood waiting for the school bus across the highway from my farmhouse, next to my mailbox. Waiting. Waiting. Cold. Rain. Snow. Wind. Nebraska. Freezing to death . . . until . . . diesel fuel and the sound of the schoolbus! Yay!

My grandmother always wore Estee Lauder's White Shoulders. Decades after she's gone, the scent still brings back memories of that prickly woman.

I spent a few hot days working in a truck terminal a long time ago made me nauseous, and it now diesel smells on a hot day instantly turn my stomach.

How about the old-fashioned suntan lotion that was a wonderful mix of coconut and something else? The current versions of sunblock can't come close. I haven't found anything that smells as good - and I've tried!

And why is it that a clean WET dog can swell worse than one that hasn't had a bath in weeks?

My mom didn't often wear perfume, but one whiff of Elizabeth Arden face cream and I could swear she's leaning over my bed and tucking me in. And I', always fascinated with how houses have certain smells (like the Susan Foster smell not like dead mouses or cat urine).

Is there anything better than new-baby-head-smell?

Oh, and Janet Lynn, I guess I'm the only person who kind of likes wet dog smell.

My childhood had 3 smells: Chlorine from the pool where I trained as a swimmer. The dairy cows next door to our house. (Not a bad smell like pigs, but earthy.) And the Sunday morning combo of my mother's Aqua Net and Chanel no.5 which was not as good as she thought it was.

Oh, and the house always smelled of perfume and cigarette smoke after my mother hosted her bridge club. (We were allowed to eat the leftover Bridge Mix afterwards.)

Great blog topic, Sarah!

First of all, Cathleen, where is NL? North London? New Liberia? Nova Locacia?

Also, I'm hijacking my own blog, harkening back to last week's. Turns out the mother of the octuplets was ALREADY ON FOOD STAMPS when she became pregnant with the 8 new kids. ALSO, the first three children, also conceived through IVF, are on disability AND the hospital that managed the 8 babies has asked the state to pay the bill that already is running into the hundreds of thousands.

Did we not see this coming?

It goes back to the Beverly Hills doctor who has a dicey reputation and who boosted his success rates by using this mother in the past.

In other words:

greed + lack of ethics + maternal instability = 14 potentially suffering children

For more, read:


Honestly, there should be legislation.

Great blog, Sarah. So true -- smells are such a powerful memory trigger. These are some of my favorites for the times they evoke in my life:

cow manure = high school in a small Connecticut town

diesel buses = semester in London

eucalyptus = law school in California

diaper genie = my kids as babies (the best)!

Popcorn - reminds me of the movies. Except now, they don't make real popcorn any more because some wad decided the oil is bad for you. Plus they use that fake butter - you will never convince me that stuff is better for you than the real thing.

Old Spice reminds me of high school. So does Love's Baby Soft.

When you drive across Pennsylvania on the turnpike, you can almost mark locations by the smells - the smells and the clear FM stations.

Great blog, Sarah!

Honestly, there should laws, Sarah.

That sulfur smell in the basement? Check the floor drain. A couple gallons of water once a month ought to do the trick, I'm betting.

Apparently, our scent memory is the most highly developed and the one most likely to evoke a visceral response. When my mother worked in a mostly female office she would arrive home smelling of the combined scents of a dozen perfumes. We had neighbors whose house and its occupants always smelled of a certain kind of soap. I could never put my finger on the brand, even though I tried for years to figure out what it was. When they took showers with the windows open (in the 1960's, when homes were not commonly air conditioned), the neighborhood would also smell of their soap, which was tantalizingly fragrant.

My maternal grandmother wore Chantilly to church, and that scent can always take me right back to her embrace. Jade East was a men's cologne back in the hippy days, and one of my boyfriends wore it. I used to keep a sample bottle to sniff at night to put me to sleep. Ahhhh.

One old boyfriend gave ME a bottle of White Shoulders, accompanied by a story. He was in law school when the draft lottery began; he was number 1, famously among all his and our acquaintances. For R&R he was sent to Germany, where he followed a woman around one day because she was wearing White Shoulders. Most women in Europe back then didn't wear any kind of antiperspirant, so he was literally following his nose. I didn't know whether to be flattered or horrified by the fact that he gave ME some of that same scent.

I was just recalling to my husband the other night a childhood memory of our parish priest. He was a cigar smoker, and you could always tell the instant he walked into the building, even if he was on a different floor. Cigar smoke still reminds me of him and of my long-departed dad (who died 40 years ago), who also loved his cigars. And speaking of my dad, if I catch a whiff of one of his beloved limburger and onion sandwiches on rye with mustard, I'm reduced to tears of longing, even though we all protested when he stunk up the house with them when he was alive.

Ooh - Old Spice is totally my Dad. I'm weepy now.

This has me thinking, that I don't wear perfume, because it makes me stuffed up. I do wear scented lotion, but not usually always the same one. So my daughter won't have this reference. It kind of makes me sad.

Sarah - dead mouse smell...nothing like it. Once you've had a whiff, you KNOW what it is the next time and the big search to find the dead critter starts!

Anna C - Researchers have found that men find the smell of hot cinnamon rolls to be very sexy. Hmmm

Judy - The smell of head of clean baby.. LOVE IT. The smell of innocence. Same thing with puppy breath. It's so sweet

For me, it's the smell of hot asphalt. I know where it comes from though. When I was growing up, we used to go to Six Flags over Texas A LOT. all the walkways were asphalt and you KNOW how hot it gets in Texas in the summer. So, hot asphalt = childhood & amusement park.

And is there anyone here who hasn't been advised by a Realtor to bake bread or chocolate chip cookies before showing the house? The smell makes people feel at home.

Have you heard of Smecils? According to their ad, Smencils are the finest smelling pencils you're likely to ever come across.

Sarah, NL is The Netherlands. We had a mouse/rat die between the studs in our walls. We just didn't know which wall in which room. Rather than tear our all the sheetrock, we just lit candles for about 2 weeks and ate out. I have a nose that smells things most don't or can't. It is not a blessing but I do have good smell memories.

Old spice and cigarettes--my Dad. Chanel #5--my mother. White Shoulders--my grandmother. Vanilla Fields--my baby sister.

The smell of hay reminds me of summers spent exploring and playing in relatives' barns. Add to the hay the smell of molasses and oats and that reminds me of the horse I had in Jr. High and how I spent every spare moment with her--probably the happiest time of my life.

Other favorite smells:
Coffee. Puppy breath. Wet dogs. Sun warmed kittens and cats.

One of my uncles was a high tower lineman for a northeas MO power company. When he came home he made his daughers take off his boots & socks & get him a beer. It is not a pleasant 'smell' memory!

But another uncle smokes a pipe. His tobacco of choice is Half n Half. Whenever I smell that smell, I think back to the Thanksgivings & Christmases that we would all have together. He is still, fortunately, around, but the family doesn't get together very much (except for funerals) lately.

I also can't go by a cow pasture without thinking back to Easter egg hunts as a child. My grandmother's small town would hold the city's annual hunt in a pasture right on the city limits. We got to run around looking for our candy & eggs and prizes. I guess I was about 7 or 8. Cotton Candy reminds me of this town's Fall Festival (a glorified county fair). Such tood times.

My favorite smell is the open air markets (Kristkindtle Marts) in Germany in December. The fresh, cold air carrying the scents of roasting peanuts, the warm yeast and cinnamon of pastries, and the hot spiced wine that warded off the chill.
A close tie for second - puppy breath and horses.
As for the dead mouse thing ? We've got one right now. Ugh. A drawback of living in an old farmhouse is the rodent population. Our three-legged cat usually leaves the 'prize' where we can find it, but sometimes she just plays with the mouse until she gets bored, then, mortally wounded, it finds some inaccessable crawlspace and dies, weighed down by the crushing humiliation of having been done in by an amputee cat.
On the dark side of the smell-induced memories... When I was a child, I was sexually abused in a room that was heated in winter with a kerosene heater. Today, thirty years later, the smell of kerosene makes me ill.

Aaaaahhh, fresh air. Well, that is what I told my girlfriend's three daughters when they were moving from the city (West Chester) to the country (north of Coatesville...yes, that Coatesville)...and they cried about the smell. Better the natural smell of horses and cows than auto fumes! LOL!!!

My comfort scent is lemon. I love lemon candles and soaps as they help retain that fresh smell days after cleaning.

I also will simmer cinnamon sticks or some drops of vanilla in a saucepan filled with water for the extra-homey smell.

Hands down, my Grandmother's linen closet has my favorite smell. She uses some kind of fabric softener you can only get in her area. Plus, she stores all of her yarn in there. It's an unmistakable, comforting clean smell combination. Sigh!

When I was three, our family drove home to California from visiting the family in Missouri some weird fashion that hit New Mexico, Texas, and Utah. All during my childhood I had dreams of a certain shaped thing -- it didn't know what it was related to until sometime in my 20's, I opened a travel spread in Gourmet magazines and saw the mounded bread ovens of Taos. Instantly I could smell the bread, but have never had the scent come again when seeing a picture of those ovens.

My dad smelled of sherry. This wasn't a good association.

Onions browning in bacon fat is comforting. How could the meal not be good if it starts with that?

Sarah, the rotten egg smell from the bath/shower is a plumbing issue. Something to do with the 'pee trap' and not enough water staying in the pipe to keep the sewer gass from coming back at you. That is what I got from Dear Hubby's explaination as to why I have that smell in my laundry room after the first load of wash each week.

Oh, Holly, you reminded me of the bakery that was down the street from the house I grew up in. Walking past it on our way to church or to school was a challenge if we were hungry (if we were going to Communion, we had to fast before church). And after school, when we lived in a different house, we would go to my aunt's to wait for our mom to pick us up on her way home from work. On Wednesdays our great grandmother went to my aunt's and together they baked bread. We could smell Little Grandma's (she was tiny) bread a block away and would take off running, knowing she would slice the hot bread for us and hand us each a piece slathered with butter and honey. Yum.

One of my favorite 'smells' is fresh cut grass and as well as motor oil. I know this sounds weird, but my dad was an auto mechanic, he would come home from work and give me a hug, very comforting smell.

We have also been cursed by the dead mouse in the wall stench. eew! Can't use words to describe.

I used to have to drive by a hog farm everyday to go back and forth to work, ever try to hold your breath for 5 minutes? Couldn't breathe out of my mouth because it tasted worse than it smelled.

Oh, yeah, I'll add puppy breath to my list, too. And the smell when my mom would open her cedar chest to get the linen tablecloths.

Sarah, I'm sure my house smells of musky corn chippy Basset Hound scent, too. But like you, I no longer really notice it. Just like I don't smell the drying herbs, chopped up garlic or old book smell that permeates my home.

Having grown up on a farm way out in the sticks, these are some of the smells that trigger memories for me...

Cow manure: I think of our old milk cow, Bessie and all of our other cattle, as well as long walks through the surrounding countryside.

New mown hay: Again, it reminds me of walking and hiking with my childhood friends.

Woodsmoke: We heated our home with a big old Ashley woodstove, so woodsmoke makes me think of home.

Skunk: Our old dog, Tippy, got sprayed by skunks so many times that, by the time I was about 8, he always smelled faintly of skunk, despite my mother washing him with her anti-skunk odor concoction. He was also immune to rattlesnake venom by the time he was 5, having been bitten at least 7 times.

Flour: The smell of flour instantly takes me back to my mom cooking up pies or bread or biscuits.

Ooh - old books. LOVE that smell. The book smell in a library is different from the one in a bookstore, and I've decided it's because there are older books there. I wish it came in a candle scent.

The summertime smell of rain on hot concrete.

The smell of lilacs in bloom outside the bedroom window.

The smell of chlorine.

The smell of apple pie baking after a trip to the orchard on a cool autumn day.

The smell of Windex on a spring day as I clean the winter darkened windows.

The smell of Baby Magic.

The smell of chocolate brownies.

The smell of new Levis.

The smell of a new car with a leather interior.

The smell of Hanae Mori men's and women's cologne.

The smell of band aids--flesh badges of courage for the under-five set.

The smell of the ocean to a landlocked Midwesterner.

I'll add the smell of sheets dried on a clothesline.

"Like this monkey," cute but it's a chimpanzee. Which reminds me, I need to make a visit to the zoo, where, despite the smell, I always enjoyed the monkey house and now Jungle of the Apes.
For that drain smell, someone suggested pouring cooking oil into the drain by the washer. It forms a layer and keeps the water from evaporating away . . .or something. My realtor agreed, and even stopped to buy some for me the day the installers came. So far, no smells -- though the HE washer has "walked" about a foot out from the wall, and I'm certainly not strong enough to push it back.

>Honestly, there should be legislation
You are so right, and yet, for so many competing reasons, any attempt to legislate child-bearing has so many opponents. I do worry about those children, and so many others not getting what they need in life.

I second the smell of freshly mowed grass. It reminds me of first days of summer and my dad cutting the grass. I also second the suntan lotion coconut aroma. The smell of bacon cooking (along with yummy oatmeal) reminds me of my paternal grandmother's cooking and being at her house. Those are the good smell connections.

A smell that makes my stomach turn is English Leather. A guy in my sixth grade class dipped his sweater in a whole bottle of the stuff, and the odor was so strong it about knocked you over. And he sat near me in school. Eeecckk!

The most awful, yuckiest, gross smell was the one in my Anthropology Department at U of TN. The head of the dept was Bill Bass, a renowned forensic anthropologist (he started the Body Farm in Knoxville). He was also the forensic investigator for any body found in TN. This is really gross, so be forewarned...he would have to cook body parts to get the remaining body fat and skin off the bones. Only then could the bones help identify the victim. We always had the doors closed to the dept's hallway. The minute you opened the door you were hit with a smell that magnifies the dead mouse smell a hundred times over. The strange thing was, once you were in the dept space, you got used to the smell. But now, whenever I smell a decaying animal, it triggers a memory of the yucky smell in UT's anthro dept.

My Dad was an oil burner service man and he always smelled of fuel oil #2. We joked it was in his blood after 40 plus years on the job. One birthday, a few years after he died, when I was really missing my Dad, my husband gave me the best present ever. A perfume bottle filled with fuel oil #2. Now whenever I miss Dad I spritz some oil on a tissue, close my eyes, and breathe him in.

The smell of sun on tanned skin.

I once dated a guy for a few weeks until I could get in his house and find out what conditioner he used, his hair smelled great.

My great-grandmother (Nana) lived in Port Arthur, Ontario, the smell of freezing air and car exhaust always reminds me of her.

My whole body relaxes going into the library and smelling books - bookstores are not the same.

My dad smoked cigarillos briefly when I was young, still reminds me of him.

Clothes dried on the clothes line - wonderful.

Cigarette smoke smell in a car can make me heave. My mom smoked in the car when we were kids (5 of us) and used to get mad when 1, 2 or 3 of us would have to barf. Duh.

The best thing ever to a child - the smell of a new box of Crayolas.

Since my food allergies have taken away all bread products from me, I nearly swoon at the smell of toast! I encourage people to use the toaster oven at work so I can smell toasted bread.

Most hated smell would be mildew. My last boyfriend always left wet facecloths to mildew in the bathroom, gross.

Laura, you want old books? Try Baldwin's Book Barn.


Ooh, so many good scent memories here!

I love the smell of the beach and ocean. I wish they could bottle that as well.

My old house had mice in the walls, and every year, another room would have that awful stench for a week or two. I was told that it stopped smelling when it became dried up! Made sense.

And I love the 'clean dog' smell after they are mostly dry. just can't stand the 'wet dog' part.

Dead mouse among the plants I brought in one year-- yuck! It apparently died from the bug killer I sprayed the plants with (I don't do that anymore, trying for a clean environment here -- diatomacious earth for the bugs now). Mom always bought D-Con for the mice, which claimed to dry them out so no smell. I'm not sure that would fit my "eco-home" philosophy either.

In college we made a field trip to the morgue. Two scent memories from that day: the godawful smell of the decay from two unidentified drowning victims, and the scent from the ozone lamps that were supposed to cover up the odor from the bodies.

To counteract that memory: the heady spring fragrances of lilies of the valley, daylilies, and hyacinths. On my first trip to Paris we could smell the hyacinth beds planted in the Jardin du Luxembourg from a full block away. Heaven.

If you've smelled a dead mouse, then you know what a dead body smells like, just multiply the mouse smell by 100 times.
My Mom wore different perfumes but I could always catch the scent of her face powder. I don't know what kind it was but I have her heart shaped gold compact, with her initials engraved on it. I have to open it occasionally for a whiff of memories.

My maternal grandfather was a butcher. The minute the car would stop and we got our hugs from Grandma, we would take off running for the "Slaughter House". We would go in (we had full access...even got to watch them slaughter the pigs & cows), give Grandpa a hug & kiss & get a hot dog, fresh from the case, to eat. They covered the floor with sawdust in those days. I can still see him, in his apron, behind that case whenever I smell sawdust.

Oh yeah....in a prior house, we couldn't find where a dead smell was coming from. That is until it was time to service the heater...and the guy found in incinerated critter in the heat duct. Ewwwww.

Another ewwwww for me is popcorn. Sorry. For one of my birthdays, my dad was to take me to dinner and a movie, only he was running late so it was popcorn. During "Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan"...ugh. To this day, the smell of popcorn is gross to me.

Hmmm...this talk has made me desire the scent of baked goods. Maybe I will do some brownie baking this weekend.

Laura...I second Josh's recommendation about Baldwins Bookbarn. Some Saturday, I will take you there.

Holy cow, Josh! I didn't know that place. I think I want to live there.

Soooo...tickling the olfactories.
Jade East: Ralph Bitter 9th grade. We taught each other how to french kiss after the basket ball games.
Home Permanents: Those little blue rubber curlers and my mom. >Whew<
Soap Factory: When the wind came from the west. Very difficult to play outside. Talk about rotten. Were they cooking horse hoofs? Yes you could taste it.
Guavas and Mangos: Can't pass them in the store without remembering sitting in the groves eating them off the tree.
Pachoulli: My entire college experience.
Wet dog smell: Wool legwarmers after a good dance class.
Dead critters: My life in my cracker box now. It last longer when it's cold and no cubes of death can keep their little bodies from not smelling out to the street.
Musk for men deodorant: My late Ex husband. I still use it.
Scotch: My dad when he was younger.
Gardenias: A king size bed full of them. Now that was a romantic evening.
Dead fish: Hurricane Andrew before the Jomama Fish Warehouse accross the street had a generator. You just couldn't imagine. The dumpsters were black with flies. EWWWWWWWW!
Breakfast for my son: Anything I make for him involves toasted something so it's that bread baking smell. Which I think is the smell of someone loving you enough to feed you.
Just saying.

Great post, Sarah. I had a wonderful moment with my daughter over the holidays when I was reviewing some family jewelry with her. There was a tiny silver perfume bottle that had belonged to my grandmother, and I opened it, and you could still smell the powdery-sweet fragrance. My daughter never knew her great-grandmother, "Mama Sue," but she got to know her perfume. It took me back, and I loved that moment.

I too love the smell of clean dog, but wet dog...eww!

Wood stove from my hubby's grandparents

Old books--love old books

Sarah, Jodi L chimed in with the correct answer (sorry, no prize...). My family has lived in The Netherlands for the past two and a half years. Most people say "Holland" but that's like calling the USA "Texas" because it's one of the biggest states. Also - just picked "Sleeping Beauty" today and can't wait for tomorrow...just me, my fireplace, a cup of tea and your book!

Enticing smells are my memories of Sunday roast beef dinners with potatoes and cabbage. Monday laundry day turned the cabbage into a not so inviting smell when cabbage was fried with lard (bubble and squeak) and mingled with the laundry bleach (Javex) odor. I begged to take my lunch to school so that I could avoid coming home midday to the wafting of these smells. However when the laundry was hung out even in the dead of winter to get that fresh smell nothing could compete with the frozen laundrdy brought in to thaw and finish drying...even the long underwear with the trap doors was not spared. Downy eat your heart out. LOL. And the now almost forbidden smell of cigar smoke or pipe tobacco still makes me feel like a little kid on the verge of adult sophistication. Go figure. Innocent memories now have become complicated but as the song says, "Oh no, they can't take that away from me."

Elaine - do you remember Packwood? It wasn't far from the 3 big gas tanks, next to hwy 40.
Our doctor's office was near the old MoBap hosp. We would have to go past Packwood first and it stunk & could induce gagging! ahhhh, but then we got to go past Freund bakery (now Hostess or Interstate). Everybody in that neighborhood must have weighed a ton from smelling the bread baking!

Rita, thanks for the reminder. My parents' house in Overland was smelling distance from Mrs. Field's Cookies when the wind was right. I especially loved when they were baking coconut cookies (and trick or treating there was fun, too!)

Mary - we probably passed each other in the Town & Country Mall (long before the yuppies stole the name LOL)

We may have -- and what high school DID you go to? I was at Ritenour, graduating with a class of nearly a thousand!

Evening in Paris cologne - reminds me of one grandmother, not because she wore it but because she gave it to me every Christmas for years when I was a kid.

Brut aftershave - my high school French teacher wore so much of it that everything he touched smelled faintly of it. I loved it at the time.

Paco Rabanne - a long-ago boyfriend wore it. I'm now convinced the aftershave was the attraction, because I get... a reaction... even when I put it on myself! I gave some to my current fellow so that I would think about him and not the old boyfriend when I smelled it.

Old Gold cigarettes, Black Velvet Whisky, and a specific musk hand cream - a female friend of mine used to smell like this combination, and it was astonishingly erotic.

Coconut-smelling sun tan lotion - reminds me of a lovely male stripper named Diego who oiled up with coconut oil. Ah, those days are long gone...

Gardenias - I was given a gardenia plant when I was hospitalized for a week for gall-bladder surgery. It's a pleasant memory, because I was on morphine and finally out of pain for the first time in months.

Avis in NH

My Dad bought Mom Chanel No.5 every chance he had. It might be in the pocket of a new coat at Christmas, or inside a package of stockings (NOT pantyhose...) Every hug she gave me as a child was warm, loving and smelled comfortingly of Chanel No. 5. I thought she smelled like a movie star! Dad was an Old Spice Man back then and I still love it. He's into Ralph Lauren Polo and Mom loves Escada but give me the old scents and memories anyday. Our sensory perception is a gift and its amazing what memories it envokes. The smell of cut grass and chlorine mean summer to me. Apples and sharpened pencils autumn; bayberry candles and wood burning in a fireplace signify winter. Early spring is the cool fresh air scent and late spring is the strong, sweet perfume of lilacs.

It's bizarre (or so my mother tells me) but I love the smell of dog ears. The inside part, not the outside; the outside would really be weird. They smell like daffodils to me. Healthy clean ones, at least. Dog ears that aren't clean smell yucky. I snuggle up and sniff my dogs' ears when they're sleeping. I can tell a healthy dog ear from a not healthy dog ear in one sniff!

I visited my parents today and passed on two Sarah Strohmeyer books to my Mom. I started telling them about this blog and this particular subject. Right away my Dad says the WORST smell is Lysol because it comes right after puke. I laughed so hard!!!!

In college, about a hundred years ago, I had a roommate that liked to party. After staying out late one night and having a few too many, she stumbled home to throw up all over the floor. As a member of the marching band (the providers of the party), she had to get up really early to get on the bus to go to an away game. Her clean up methods included throwing her bed comforter over the whole mess and spraying it with perfume. To this day, when I pass someone wearing that particular perfume I wonder why I feel slightly nauseous!

I have to agree with you about the dead mouse scent. Once you smell it, you'll always know it.

The smell of jasmine incense reminds me of when I was in high school and went through my "hippie" phase. Cigars remind me of summer Sunday afternoons watching baseball on TV with my grandpa and dad and uncles, waiting for the "Land of Sky Blue Waters" beer commercials that I loved. The smell of diesel fuel reminds me of when my mother and I would go visit my Uncle Tony and sliding around on the vinyl bench-style back seat of his huge old car. My favorite smell now -- kitty spit...the smell of my cat after he bathes himself. So warm and comforting.

Oh, I forgot one other scent that really brings back memories.....Patchouli. If you are over 45 you probably know what it is. If you are under 45 ask your Mom or an Aunt.....

In the very late 60's/early 70's there was a store on the third floor of a building on State St. in my hometown (which is a Big 10 college town). They burned incense; Patchouli which was so strong it was almost LOUD and played Janis Joplin that WAS loud! I thought it was so grown up and very very"groovy"!!!!! Got my first pair of dangly earrings there and I have to admit that I still have them. I also had a creative writing teacher in high school that smelled like Patchouli (I am not actually sure of the spelling) who was an old hippie, very radical (or so I thought). She knew a poet from the 60's, Donald Hall, who actually came to our class and read to us. Hmmmm....maybe if I burn Patchouli incense my writing skills will come back to me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My chemistry teacher told us that in order to minimize the bad odor, charcoal could be used for it absorbs odor. She even said, that it also aids in alienating bad breath. The charcoal will just be pounded for it to become powder then mix it to any drinks. One good proof for the effectiveness of charcoal is when we put in refrigerator that smells stinky... try it...your refrigerator will then smells good.

I also had a creative writing teacher in high school that smelled like Patchouli (I am not actually sure of the spelling) who was an old hippie, very radical (or so I thought).

The comments to this entry are closed.

The Breast Cancer Site