Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Yeah, so I didn't realize that post didn't publish back on the 8th. Sorry about that. And Fred did enjoy breaking a few ornaments and running around with glass in his mouth the first day. Scary.


I have been thinking about the sense of smell a lot lately. It's partly because of the lovely Christmas tree smell in my apartment at the moment, so that's not exactly a total non sequitar. :)

And you know, it's funny, but the sense of smell is really the one of the five senses that you really can't preserve or capture to enjoy later. I was thinking, looking at some sports photos tonight, you know, that is literally 1/500th of a second you're looking at there. 1/500th. Right there, frozen forever.

The father in the story I did about the blind family makes audio recordings of things he wants to remember. He has a little tape recorder with a microphone that he clips on his sleeve. I spent a day with them at the zoo, and he ran around all day making recordings of his 2-year-old son chatting about the giraffes and making monkey noises as he looked at the primate exhibit.

Recipes and frozen leftovers preserve "taste" fairly well. The sense of touch is fairly easy to replicate if the physical object still exists. But smell is the one sense you can't really preserve and recreate at will.

A few weeks ago, I put on Degree deoderent for the first time in 8 years. I had a travel size sample, it was convenient, and then later- "When life turns up the heat"... BAM! As clear as a bell, it was like 1994, making out with J. If anyone had asked me to pick a scent that might bring a memory like that back, (and who would? I don't think anyone else thinks about stuff like this) I probably would have named the cologne he used to wear. I never would have thought about my wearing Degree.

It's the combinations of scents that make it difficult to recreate, I think. In 1995, I wrote in my journal that a passageway in Barcelona smelled like "Warm bread, impatiens flowers and inadequate sewer system." Go, Europe. The combination of Curve cologne, Benjamin Moore paint and sawdust will always conjure up long Saturdays set-painting with Mr. Lehm@n. (HA! No functional comments!)

In Miami, they had oxygen bars where you could pay to wear "fashionable" (eh) tubes in your nose and smell different "flavors" while getting ever-so-slightly legally high on purer oxygen that one usually breathes in the Aventura Mall. I never did it. Still, though, 20 years from now, I doubt they will have the "flavor" I really want, which is the way Nanny's house smells on the day she (and Larry) bake dozens of Christmas cookies. It's the usual comforting combination of Ciara cologne and lingering cooking smells- like soup and fried meatballs. But that day, even that scent is just an undercurrent beneath the aroma of cinnamon and chocolate and nuts and baking dough and peanut butter cookies, the kind with perpendicular fork marks on top.

"I'm making a memory. Years from now, when I'm all grown up, I'll remember
my Grandfather and how he always smelled of peppermint and pipe tobacco." -Hayley Mills in "The Parent Trap"

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