Tuesday, October 30, 2012

What's That Smell?

Objects in the picture are closer than they appear.
For better or worse, I have a very strong sense of smell. As you may know, smell is the sense that is most strongly linked to memory. I can be walking down the street in Seattle and all of a sudden be transported to Hong Kong with a whiff of bus fuel and a very distinct frying fat smell. When I worked with Alzheimer's patients, it was amazing to see the memories come flooding back to otherwise confused people with a simple sniff of vanilla or cinnamon or apple cider.

My sense of smell has been temporarily disabled by massive amounts of phlegm and I feel as though I'm a little bit blind. The Chief Lou and I sometimes play a game called "What's that smell?" in which we try to precisely describe someone or something with two scents. I'm sure everybody does this for fun, right? For example, an acquaintance of ours can be succinctly described as "Ben Gay and anger." Does that paint a picture? Can you see him? Funny how that works.

Now it's your turn. What's that smell? Can you paint a picture in two scents? Of whom does it speak? Does it give you an instant mental image? It can be someone you know, it can be a particular place, it can be a character in your mind. The rules are few. Only that it must be two smells (as with the example above, it can be figurative if need be - what does anger smell like? I think you know) and that there can be no other description. Leave it in the comments here or on your blog if you are looking for a very short post today. Then the fun begins, read through the comments and be sure to let people know what pictures they have evoked with their smells. Are you game? It's a simple audience participation this week.

Ladies and gentlemen, start your noses!

Here are a few to get those olfactory juices flowing:

Baby powder and ennui.
Latex and gin.
Bubble gum and desperation.

Have fun and keep sniffing!


  1. Replies
    1. I love this! I see a gracious old woman, wrinkled and creased with delicate laughter lines all over her face.

  2. Old cat piss and accommodation.
    Boy sweat and pride.
    Cumin and anticipation.
    Wet pennyroyal and worship.

    Love it. :)

    1. I thought you might enjoy this. ;)
      Cumin always involves anticipation. How does that happen?

    2. I can see all of these...how very interesting.

  3. mothballs and okra. I loved my grandma :)

    1. This is so fantastic! You must save it and use it in a piece of writing sometime. It is just a perfect picture of someone. I knew it was your grandma even if you hadn't said.

  4. Leather and kindness- my grandpa.
    Jovan Musk and petunias- grandma.
    Fresh baked bread and welcome- my childhood home.

  5. Replies
    1. Oh yes. My world smells a whole lot like this right now.

  6. Thrifted leather and Chanel No. 5

    Motor oil and big city dreams.

    Easter lilies and tears.

    Cigarette smoke and self-sacrifice.

    (Doesn't this lend itself to noir, somehow? Yours are a wonder, Lou. I see a disaffected [and perhaps French] new mother who never thought she belonged here, a Flapper girl in a bob and silk stockings who would rather be elsewhere, and of course that poor teenage girl with the big hair feigning boredom).

    1. It does lend itself to noir.

      Motor oil and big city dreams... I swoon.

    2. Cigarette smoke and self-sacrifice...lovely.

  7. I am really bad at this, I am more auditory in my memory links, the only one I can come up with is:

    Antiseptic wipes and school dinners (still miss my Dad)

    1. That's a great one. It stings my nose and it's kind of sad. Perfect.

  8. Chocolate chip cookies and lemon pledge.
    Campfire smoke and horses.
    Hot pavement and rain.

    1. Chocolate chip cookies and lemon pledge perfectly describes my childhood home on Saturday afternoons in the fall and winter.

  9. I think in song lyrics and movie lines, apparently. Because this is what popped into my head when thinking about two scents: Marcy Playground

    However, my own original thoughts:
    Marlboro lights and coffee
    Ben-Gay and coffee
    Rain and worms
    Snow and hot chocolate

    1. Marcy Playground?! Thank you for that blast from the past! ;)
      I think in song lyrics and movie lines, too. Sometime when I'm not feeling lazy, I will whip up a whole essay composed of song lyrics, movie lines and smells.

  10. Sorry, am I late? Bah. Well, for what it's worth, I can't generally smell things. They have to be very, very strong for me to pick up on. Now that you say it's linked so closely to memory...a lot of things make more sense.

    Pride and worn leather
    Mu‘assel and hot candle wax
    Lilacs and fur
    Chlorine and determination

    1. Lilacs and fur... I can almost taste it.
      Love these, Deb!


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