These are the thoughts of a Texas transplant in West Michigan who makes his living as a newspaper reporter by evening, and a struggling novelist by day.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

what's that smell?

recently a friend divulged something interesting about himself while we talked. i found his experience interesting and it got me to thinking about similar "sense-based" experiences.

my friend said since the days of his youth, he's associated a certain soft drink with his first sexual experience, if i got it correct. he drank a the pop afterward and since, he's always associated one with the other.

so i got to thinking of how strong certain senses are for people. for him, it's the taste of that pop that sends him back in time. for me, though, it's smell.

i have always been drawn to past experiences or people from my past through the sense of smell. i know that probably my hearing is pretty strong becaue of my loss of vision. but i feel a certain, special connection with my sense of smell.

my paternal grandfather died a few weeks before my fifth pirthday. i lived next door to him and saw him pretty much every day until he died. (i was a fave. grandchild.). he used to use aqua velva, the green bottle type, as an after shave. it has a distinct smell to it. every time, and it's become increasingly rare, that i get a whiff of it these days, it takes me back to that old man i knew for a handful of years. and while i don't use aqua velva and don't particularly like it, there's something about the smell of it. it's comforting to me.

last year, i believe, i was waiting outside work and there was a wind blowing from the west off lake mac. it's was a cool night (but not cold at all). as i waited for my ride, i got this strange smell coming down eighth street. i stood transfixed, mostrils flaring. i quickly went back in time about five or six years ago, back to the ranch. the smell of the ranch, as the wind blew across the big field, was humid and smelled of the country. it was a pure smell, not polluted by any industry. well, i know there's a lot of crap along lake mac preventing that from giving me a pure smell, but i swear that was getting that same smell. it was nice. country wind is nince wind.

back to perfumes. this is not definite because i can't pinpoint it, but i can remember certain perfumes some of my elementary teachers wore; i'm talking first or second grade. i could be at meijer or walking downtown and all i need is a whiff of it and, bam, back to my grade school classroom.

lady stetson reminds me of this girl i liked when i was a sophomore in high school. when i smell that these days, and it's rare, it think of her and part of that sophomore year when i thought she was cool.

then there's dawn. she also wore a certain type of perfume that day we first met in person in san antonio. again, i don't recall the name,b ut it was such a pleasant scent. it put me at ease right away. she has worn that same perfume sparingly during the past few years. when she does, it takes me back to that first time. beautiful perfume.

"have a coke and a smile."


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