Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Vain meanderings of my olfactory senses

Noses were something to tease people about in my family.  My brother and sister’s noses came from my mom’s genes.  The long, skinny ski jump.  My grandpa used to joke that he was never late.  His nose got there on time even if it took the rest of him a little while longer.  My nose takes after my dad’s side of the family.  The four car garage, as my jealous brother and sister would call it. 

I know people who don’t have much of a sense of smell.  This is so sad to me.  How does one experience life without being able to smell it?  My bowl cupboard smelled like Andes mints because Hubby stashed a package in there so the kids wouldn’t get to it.  Unfortunately, I did.  That’s what he gets for going on a business trip and leaving me with an opened package of Andes mints!  

It has been said that memories are attached to smells.  Like the warm aroma of food baking around the holidays.  The saltiness of the ocean.  Is it just me or is ocean smell described more beautifully in books than it is in real life?  Or the scent that some people leave behind on their clothes. 

I don’t know what sort of detergent my mother in law uses but I love the smell of it.  I love when she did a load of laundry for us when we were visiting and my clothes smelled like her.  Until I washed them again anyway.  Our bathroom towels always smelled like her.  Even after they had been washed.  My in laws were the only ones who ever used those sunny yellow towels for a while.  I was sad when the smell started dissipating and taking on our family smells as the towels were rotated in with our towels. 

Some smells you never forget.  Like the saccharine smell of marijuana.  Unfortunately, I grew up with that smell in my neighborhood.  Years later I went to a workshop as a teacher.  We were learning how to teach our students about the dangers of substance abuse. 

One speaker was a cop and he brought in a baggie of marijuana for a visual aid.  He had asked if anyone had smelled it before.  Most of the teachers never had.  Some said they couldn’t remember.  The cop said if they couldn’t remember then they had never smelled it.  It’s true.  It’s a distinct smell that cannot be masked nor forgotten.  Theme parks smell like regular cigarettes.  Marijuana has its own instant headache acridness. 

Or the smell of death.  Have you ever smelled death?  That is a smell that will last for a while.  Once you get a whiff of death you think about it for days.  I had some neighbors leave on vacation for a couple of weeks.  They had asked some other neighbors to take care of their dogs.  Something happened.  Starvation.  I don’t know.  The dogs died.  The caretaking neighbors put the dogs in the garbage cans for the garbage truck to pick up.  The entire neighborhood smelled of oppressive, heavy, can’t get the smell out of your mouth, death.  Apparently I grew up in the ghettos of Suburbia with all the marijuana and death. 

Right now the screenless window in my laundry room is open.  The laundry room has a weird smell in it.  The same smell is also in the hall closet.  This smell has been in the laundry room before.  It went away on its own.  We thought it was extra mustiness from rain and humidity.  Now we don’t know what it is since it has stuck around for a week with no rain.

Quite a while ago we noticed the screen over one of the crawl space vents was missing.  We’re guessing little boy and not animal.  Although animals could be getting in and living quite comfortably underneath our house.  Robert Fulghum has written about pack rats that live in his walls.  That scares me only because it’s a pain in the neck to have to deal with animals.  I have enough other things to worry about right now. 

Heath speculated that some animal may have died in the crawl space.  I was really worried at first wondering how on earth we would deal with something like that.  But the smell in the laundry room and in the closet doesn’t smell like dead animal.  It is a mixture of The Great Salt Lake lake effect and decomposing dirty diaper.  Not death.  I know death. 

The window stayed open for most of the morning.  I closed it before getting Bug from school.  I didn’t really notice the smell anymore.  I checked in the hall closet and was overpowered by the smell.  When I went back in the laundry room the smell was fainter but still there.  Hubby likes to make fun of my overly developed sense of smell.  I think he’s just jealous.  However, with this laundry room smelling of rotting gym socks mixed with ripe waste, I can’t imagine why he would be jealous of my nose!

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