Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

I have an excellent, over-the-top, heightened sense of smell.

This innate ability to pick up on even the hint of fragrance can be a blessing or a curse…depending on the situation.

If a moth commits Hara Kiri by flying directly into the halogen bulb in our living room floor lamp, I’ll be the one who says, (sniff) “Something’s burning….(sniff, sniff)…can you smell that? What is that? Is the stove on? I THINK SOMETHING IS ON FIRE. Hel-lo? Why isn’t anyone concerned about this??” Meanwhile, that moth is toast….and I don’t mean in a good way.

The flip side is when a shopping companion does a drive-by-spritz from the display counter at Macy’s. I’ll enjoy the first whiff…and then I’m simultaneously gagging and backing away. Ultimately the spritz-offender will be coerced into hitting the ladies room, where I will hose her down until the felonious odor has been eradicated. Only then may harmonious shopping resume.

And I wonder why people are hesitant to go shopping with me…

Growing up, I can remember Mom wearing the perfume Charlie. Mom was a teacher…and regularly received several bottles of the stuff during each school-year holiday season. So, she wore it…she may have preferred not to….but hell, what else was she gonna do with it? I have a teeny bottle somewhere…tightly sealed…and every now and then I’ll take a whiff and be instantly swept back to that five-year-old...sitting on her mother’s lap…while she read “Are You My Mother?” to me for the thousandth time.


This reminded me of how much I still love the smell of crayons…and the smell of Play Doh…and the ocean and freshly cut grass and lilacs and how Laura reminded me the other day that Mom always had marigolds growing in the garden…and she can’t smell ‘em now without thinking of her.

Sigh…. We miss Mom...

This got me to thinking about what smells da boys will associate with me after I’m gone. I figure the smell of burned food is probably not a very nice association…(may I rest in peace).

Then I realized what smell they’ll remember…and I’m realizing their memories are gonna be just a tad…confusing. See, I’m a huge fan of the body butters from The Body Shop. These are serious moisturizers for seriously dry skin…like mine. They come in a myriad of scents…from coconut (reminiscent of Coppertone Coconut Tanning Oil), to shea butter…to mango...to cocoa butter. They’re light and subtle and…yummy. Loving the body butters so much, the next time I found myself in The Body Shop, I decided to try their banana-scented shampoo and conditioner…and my free gift that day included some grapefruit scented/flavored lip balm.

Somehow, having all these differing scents on me has rendered me unable to recognize that I almost certainly smell like someone threw up an entire basket of fruit.

Maybe this is a good thing….I’ve covered an entire gamut of produce in an effort to be memorialized in every conceivable venue…from weddings to barbecues...I’ll be there.

And I guess that makes me golden…

Spot said...

I just snort-laughed! Leave it to you to come up with a way to be so ultimately unforgettable!! Love it!

♥Spot

Christiejolu said...

LOVE the body shop...I miss the smell of the ocean...

Kimberly said...

It is amazing how the sense of smell can recall a memory. When I smell hot tar, it reminds me of my aunt and uncle's house when I was a kid and would play with my cousin there. I never knew what the smell was at the time, but as an adult, I wonder why in the world their house smelled like hot tar?!

BTW, love the book "Are you my mother?". Nick just read it to me the other day. He was practicing his reading ... 'cuz I can read, ya know. :)

Slamdunk said...

What a wonderful memory of times with mom.

I don't have as great of a sense of smell as you, but I do associate memories with scents.

For some reason, a certain aroma will hit me everyone once in awhile and I'll be transported back to my grandparents old house. With my mom, it was a pecan pie just out of the oven.

John McElveen said...

Smell is sooo Powerful--like Music--both can evoke great great Mamm--memories...Play Doh and Crayons are that type of smell. So is my post today! Right before it rains, and the Mowed lawn are way up there--But how about--

Coffe being made- The Coffee in the Filter not ness. the Brewing----and

BACON!!!!!!

I LOVE to throw Moths into My Halogen Tower lamp--yep--it ain't easy being green--that thing will heat a small room!

Great toast!

John

Chrissy said...

Well, you are fruity! Gosh, I remember Charlie and the jingle from the commercial.

Lauren said...

That's awesome! I was picturing one of those giant hats with all the fruit on them. If I had kids and died now, I would smell like Chinese food. How depressing is that. I'm gonna work on it.

Oddyoddyo13 said...

Totally off topic, but for some reason, you seem (recently) fixated on childhood stories (see above picture as Exhibit A).

Anyhoo....

My Mom has a sense of smell that sounds similar to yours....Eddie always says that if a gnat farts she'll smell it. (Not a very pretty analogy, but there you have it.)

Maybe its just the whole Mom thing...they like to whiff out what their kid's up to-not only eyes in the back of your heads, but heightened senses of smell. Do you guys walk through walls too? Is there something I should know?

Well, at least whenever your boys walk through the grocery store they'll think of you...and your plethora of body butters.

Bernadine said...

I love the smell of the ocean too and when you go outside after it rained everything smells so fresh and clean.
Body butters is nice too.

I have one smell that reminds me of my school days and that is Charlie White perfume. Every time I smell that I get whisk away back in time to the days I was still in school.

Adele said...

Oh, those smells... Every time I smell garlic I remember the one-day Spanish "cafe" we did with my sister and friend once (it was some kinda project). And we used a LOT of garlic there :D And also, I LOVE all the body butters and lip balms and practically anything that smells like coconut. I had a coconut scented lip balm and when I had used all of it, I washed the little tub/case/whatever thingy that it was in and now I have golden sequins in there, but every time I open it, I can smell coconut. Like I'm in Jamaica...for a second.

Runnergirl said...

Whenever I smell something familiar it instantly takes me back. Like the smell of some houses we've been to reminds me of my Grannie's house and I find it so comforting.

I once got given a bottle of Charlie - it was my first ever perfume. I think I was begged not to use it by a friend. It took me 10 years before I ever wore perfume again!

Alan W. Davidson said...

He,he,he. I remember the Charlie commercials as well. Guess that makes us all geezers.

You're right, though, about hightened smell being a blessing or a curse. Depends on the memories one has available, I suppose. Your memories of your mother sound very nice.

From a writing standpoint, I try to incorporate all of the senses into my stories wherever possible.

dailyseeking said...

I can identify with this post; certain smells instantly take me back. Sometimes I go over to Ulta and smell my grandmother's perfume; just to be close.

Gigi said...

Better to smell like various fruits than - I don't know - cabbage or something equally stinky.

brite said...

"Are You My Mother?" My son loved that book, read it to him so many times when he was but a wee thing I can probably STILL recite it from memory.
I've been wearing the same perfume since the mid 80's...it's getting harder and harder to find, but it is MY scent...can't imagine wearing anything else.

TC said...

My girls paid me the ultimate compliment, they tried to find my perfume that just smelled clean and slightly flowery, they realized it was me with baby lotion and a hint of musk perfume.
On the other hand Charlie takes me back to the 80s.....

j.m. neeb said...

If I remember correctly, scent is the sense which elicits the most powerful memories.

That seems weird given that sight and sound seem to be more practical senses. Although, perhaps it is because we use them on such a frequent basis that we are somewhat "desensitized" to them?

Who knows?

I love the smell of coffee, but abhor the taste. I like most of the ones you do, except Play Doh. I never could stand that smell. *shudders*

KellyGrrl said...

Perfect!

And the second you said something about the smell of crayons, I could smell it... I love that....

Vince said...

Boys tend not to remember smells like you do.
Do you have a talent for finding very good take-aways for that's the direction to the male heart for you could slather yourself in butter and it won't make a ounce of difference.

Alicia said...

My kids say they will remember me best for the scent of Pine-sol and Clorox. Not that I dab these powerful cleansers behind my ears or on my wrists but because I hate the smell of food in my house! Not while it's cooking of course cause then I'm hungry, but after. After my belly is full and the smell is making me gag. So I always do the dishes right afterwards and add about two tablespoons of clorox to the water to disinfect everything and leave my little hands smelling all chloriney/chlorinated? Well whatever. Then to refresh the rest of the house I take a paper towel and put a little Pine-sol on it and run around the house rubbing it ever so briefly on anything that doesn't move. So my house always smells like Clorox and Pine-sol. I guess it's sad that my kids won't remember the smells of homemade meatloaf pie or tacos...nope...just Clorox and Pinesol!

kathryn said...

Spot: (Snicker) Well, as long as the snort-laugh did not involve any liquids simultaneously erupting, we're golden...right?? Hey, my words may only hang out for so long in cyberspace...but smell is forever, baybee!

Christiejolu: Yeah...Body Shop's the best, right? I'm always waiting for their special sales on the body butters, then I stock up. I miss the smell of the ocean too...it's been too long.

Kimberly: Go, Nick! Did you tell him he's reading a classic?
And did it always smell like tar at your cousins? Were they in the tar-biz, or something? It's funny...but I also associate that smell with childhood somehow. Maybe they don't use it as much anymore.

kathryn said...

Slamdunk: Oh! I would LOVE to have a smell associated with my grandparents house! I can't think of one. And pecan pie....sigh. Yeah, a definite mom-aroma. Now, when I smell pecan pie, I'll think of you!

John McElveen: So true! Connor (13) loves the smell of coffee (in the bag when it's first ground). He'll stick his whole face in the bag and whiff. Of course, this is a kid who likes the smell of gasoline...so I'm not all that impressed. Oh, and btw: you're a GUY. All guys love BACON. WTF??

Chrissy: You do? I don't remember the jingle...I'll have to YouTube it. Yes, I'm a little too fruity, sweetie. (Pun...intended??)

kathryn said...

Lauren: LOL! I'm sorry....I didn't mean to laugh out loud...but oh, sweetie....there are worse things than being remembered when someone smells Chinese. You'll be missed often!

Oddyoddyo13: You're right, sweetie. I didn't even realize I did two childhood books in two consecutive posts. And leave it to YOU to notice! Well, maybe our mom-superhero-smell stems from sticking our noses in your butts to see if your diaper is dirty. Also not pretty, but TRUE! Of course, you would think that would have deadened our sense of smell....

Bernadine: I think the reason I like the smell of the ocean and cut grass...and yes, the smell after a rain...is that they're not overpowering...they're just right. "Charlie White" sounds vaguely familiar...but maybe 'cause I'm thinking of my mom's Charlie? I'm for anything that sends us back to a more carefree time, though...right?

kathryn said...

Adele: YES! Coconut=Jamaica...totally. That's so funny about the garlic overdose! I love the smell of garlic...but it's a grown-up smell to me. Maybe my mom didn't cook w/it when I was little. The smell of coconut definitely conjures up memories of sunning at the beach....sigh....

Runnergirl: Oh, that's too funny. I wonder if your friend just didn't like THAT perfume....or maybe you went a little too heavy w/it? But 10 years to try a scent again? You should tell her she made quite the impact on you!

Alan W. Davidson: Smart man...smart writer. I don't even think ppl are always aware how a scent is being used to stamp a memory. It's only in hindsight that we make the connection.

kathryn said...

dailyseeking: I totally hear that. It's so comforting...and if you close your eyes...you're almost back there, right? I sometimes wish we could have these smells at our fingertips for the more stressful times in our lives.

Gigi: Yeah? Isn't the smell of cabbage an Irish thing? I'm sure someone out there would find it comforting. I'm thinking we don't want to make any memory-connections to smells like...I dunno...ant spray.

brite: See? That's exactly what I mean. Everyone in your life will equate that scent w/you...and I think it's fabulous....I hope it's a classic scent so they don't discontinue it.

kathryn said...

TC: What a lovely compliment. The scents of musk and baby lotion sound wonderful. I'm always amazed that the smell of ME could bring comfort to anyone...and yet, I shouldn't be surprised, given how I associate the Charlie fragrance w/my mom...

j.m. neeb: Really? Not a big Play-Doh fan? I can respect that. And yes...it's probably more subconscious...our smell-memories. Back burner in the brain....noted but not necessarily computed.

KellyGrrl: I know, right? I can smell 'em perfectly as well...nothing else smells like them!

kathryn said...

Vince: Really? Why would that be? Is the male sense of smell inferior to the female version? Or do you think it's 'cause you're not paying attention? Me thinks you THINK you're not paying attention....but I'll bet that somewhere down the road, you'll be hit with a scent that will draw you back. Mark my words...

Alicia: Ha! I don't know that it's such a bad thing, honey. I mean...Clorox and Pine-sol will probably be around for a long time. And as I've stated, better that than the smell of ant spray! Sounds like your nose is pretty sensitive as well...another thing we have in common.

Maureen@IslandRoar said...

I too, have a very keen sense of smell. I'll bet you smell amazing,and da' boys will remember that plus a whole gob of other wonderful stuff. But not for a VERY long time.

Jen said...

I too love the smell of crayons. This is such a good post. You have inspired me. I may have to write a "smell" post as well. Smells are such a strong trigger of memories. Thanks for this.

lifelove'n'wine said...

Haha, great post. Lilacs, play-doh, the ocean, and freshly cut grass are some of my favorite scents too. Also, pine because it reminds me of Christmas and chocolate cooking because...it's chocolate.

Tinkerschnitzel said...

I think of my mom everytime I smell fresh baked cookies or wassail. Maybe that's why I like Christmas so much?

Sadako said...

Aww! I love Are You My Mother!

Wendy Blum said...

Bath and Body is WONDERFUL! And I have bought stuff from the Body Shop as well. I love the Apple body wash because it reminds me of a crisp fall day. Kinda spicy and a little hint of a campfire in there. I like the scent of campfire. Sue me, lol. I really don't have a signature scent. I suppose I too will be remembered at every event the boys go to once I am on the other side...
Are You My Mother is a great book. My oldest son memorized the entire book and would "read" it when he was 4 or 5. And my youngest also loved it.
Ahh, the smell of brand new Crayola's just waiting to be colored with *sigh* I love the smell of bookstores and new books.
Lilacs and clothes that have hung on the line. The scent of fresh mown grass that coincides with summer time. The aroma of coffee and bacon and freshly baked bread...All these "scent photos" are floating around in my head.
And I jumped into rhyming mode, lol.
Isn't it odd that our minds conjure up memories just by a scent? If I smell linoleum, I think of my grandma. And Olay moisturizer of her, too
Aqua Velva, my dad.

John McElveen said...

I don't know--is it more of a guy thing? Do women like sausage....ummmm- let me rephrase that!.. what do women like? !!! u r a nut Girl. I LOVE IT!

Hell--I don't know--maybe it's cause we like to Pork things??

John

snoble24 said...

yeah people remember the way people smelled.my grandmother god rest her soul always wore chantilly number 5.we have a couple of bottles that used to be hers and from time to time i smell them just because iv been thinking of her or something its odd.im sure your boys will remember other good things about you to

Heather said...

You just made me remember my grandmother. She had this certian smell that I still haven't identified. It was sorta like baby powder and mildew. I have a box of stuff that she had and everytime I open it, her smell hits me.

Jerry said...

Body Butter. There really is such a thing? Does my wife use it? Do they have vanilla flavor? I like vanilla. And I have absolutely no idea how to comment on body butter except that butter is fattening. Does it kind of collect in your navel? That would be cool if it did. That way, when you need a dash of something smelly, just dip your finger into you navel then dab behind your ears.

Body Butter. What is this world coming to?

kathryn said...

Maureen@IslandRoar: I remember that...that we've got that keen sense of smell in common. Well, they'd BETTER remember me...fondly...even if it takes another 20 years or so for it to kick in. Wherever I am, I can wait.

Jen: You're very welcome, sweets. Blog away! We all have such different takes on the same ideas...that's what makes each blog so unique, right? I look forward to reading it.

lifelove'n'wine: CHOCOLATE.....YUM. Yeah...chocolate anything....is a great and happy trigger. Fortunately, bad things don't usually happen around chocolate, right??

kathryn said...

Tinkerschnitzel: Honey, I wouldn't know the smell of wassail if you locked me in a room full of it! Maybe you should mix up some wassail in July...just for the memories....could be a blast!

Sadako: I love that book too! In my mind, it's a classic...'cause it never gets old. Even the illustrations are sooo sweet.

Wendy Blum: Oh, I LOVE your memories! AND all your scent-associations! You've reminded me of the smell of marshmallows over a
campfire...(which I grab and then run back into the safety of the insect-free tent). And YES! Linoleum and NOXEMA!!! Sigh....

kathryn said...

John McElveen: (Rolls eyes) Oh, brother. Man=meat=high cholesterol=never going to the doctor for regular check-ups=early demise.
I'll let you do the math.

snoble24: Aw, honey....that's so sweet. You make sure you wrap up one of those Chantilly bottles real tight, so it'll last forever. You'll probably always associate the smell with her, you know...

Heather: Are you sure it wasn't moth balls? You know the joke about grandmas and moth balls, right? From the old days, of course...what an unmistakable smell! Like Ben-gay!

kathryn said...

Jerry: Ha! The confusion is pouring out of my monitor at me...you poor man...this post was waaay too female for your liking, huh? I'll expound: Body Butter has the consistency of butter...and it comes in a tub, instead of a tube. And there's no vanilla....'cause if there was, I would have purchased it.
BUT. I must emphasize here that you don't eat it. (Oh, crap...has Jerry already run to the mall...on his way to pick some up for lunch??)Somebody stop him!

David said...

I remember a teacher writing about how his classroom smelled of day old milk and teenage hormones. Hmmm, brings back those memories instantly. I'd rather it be a dirty martini.

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