October 2015: My Many Smells

I smell.

Well, my nose does, at least.

How does it smell?

Great!

(That shouldn’t be a new joke for anyone, even those fresh from the womb.)

Of all our senses, smell tends to be given a lot less importance than others. I’m not sure anyone lives in fear of losing their sense of smell, like we may for losing any of the “major” senses, such as hearing, sight, and touch.

The way we smell is easy to take for granted.

Just like our other senses, we are bombarded daily with scents and odors. We develope favorites, and dislikes, and categories to sort them all into.

I don’t know of any personality tests based up smell, like there are for color or music. But there should be.

For instance, I like many floral scents. The sublime delicance of a daffodil. The exotic slice of a neroli blossom. The unforgettable power of a rose (and as a bonus, rose can even be a flavor!)

My favorite of all – the heady punch of a blooming lilac. For me, a deep inhale makes my head spin and my mind soar.

To base an analysis of my personality upon these favorites, however, brings a result that with I’m certain I will disagree. (I’m … earthy? Gentle? Passive?) I’ve already had far too many people tell me that I’ve the soul of an elderly woman with scented bath soaps no one is allowed to touch on the inside.

(The soaps. Don’t touch the soaps. Not that this means any of you can touch my insides, either.)

Leaving the flowers behind, there are other scents I enjoy as well, of course: baked goods. (Go away inner old lady!) Leather stores (Erm, really … go away.) The sharp stab of mothballs (farther … that should do it.) The metallic tang of electrical ozone. Burning coal. Brand new computer parts. Freshly poured asphalt on a hot day.

(I’m machine-like? Like an old lady on a motorcycle delivering cookies, maybe?)

My point being, if one tries to analyze a personality based upon favorite smells, it gets weird.

Quickly.

In the name of (pseudo)science, obviously the other side has to be factored in as well – those smells that are disliked.

There are universally disliked smells, of course: rotting food. Sewer gas. Bad breath. Sadly even the innate cuteness of a skunk is not enough to overcome their disastrous odor.

(Although they seem to be perfectly happy with it and its usefulness in defense from predators. And cuddlers.)

Unlike many people, I don’t mind the smell of cooking fish in a microwave. Or boiling cabbage, or frying onions, or many other food related smells. I don’t mind the aroma of gas being pumped,  cow farms, locker rooms, wet dogs … I can’t say I’m fond of them, but I’m not bothered by them.

(The cat box really gets to me sometimes, though.)

But the odor that bothers me more than anything – musty clothes.

(Maybe I fear stagnation. Or being folded up and shoved in a drawer.)

I don’t know why it bothers me so much. Perhaps it’s a sense of failure because my clothes always seem to have an underlying mustiness to them that I can’t get rid of, no matter how much fabric softener I use. I’ve always envied those people who can walk down a hall and leave behind an unmistakable April freshness in the air.

I’ve tried finding out how they do it, but as soon as I ask, “Do you ever feel … not-so-fresh?” they just look at me funny and back away.

So the mystery remains.

In the past, I’ve blamed it on the washing machine I used, or the detergent, or the fabric softener, or the dryer sheets … but the unfortunate consistency across all these variables can only lead to one conclusion:

Apparently, I stink.

I’m not sure if the smell originates from the clothes rubbing off on me, or I on the clothes. I’m all right as long as I don’t get sweaty or wet in the rain. But as soon as I do, I can begin to catch the first whiffs of the unmistakable moldy hair smell.

(I’m bitter from the number times I’ve been lied to by fabric softeners listing their scent as “fresh summer rain”.)

I haven’t given up. (Perseverance!) If the cat can smell like fresh fabric softener just from burrowing underneath the blankets on my roommate’s bed and sleeping there for a few hours, there must be hope for me as well.

(He used to be the control in my experiments, until I was firmly told I wasn’t allowed to sniff him any more. My roommate, not the cat. Although I’m not supposed to sniff the cat, either.)

My latest attempt is to eliminate fabric softener entirely. I read online to use a little distilled vinegar instead. Since it’s on the internet, it has to be true, so I figured it’s worth a shot. Maybe it will help balance my natural PH levels or some other vaguely scientific-sounding thingy. I figure the worst that can happen is I end up smelling like vinegar. Or moldy hair vinegar.

If that doesn’t work, maybe I’ll try lemon juice next. (Curiousity!)

It may end up that the only solution will be to cut off my nose.

But then how will I smell?

Terrible!

(Of course.)

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