There’s something so primal about a memory tied to scent. Infants at birth will use their sense of smell to know where food is coming from. They are familiar with the sound of mom’s voice but her scent is instinctual. There’s an entire science of pheromones and secretions from sexual organs that call to sexual partners. It’s really fascinating and gets me excited in all my geeky places. Scents can flood your mind with memories, help your memory and brain function, boost your mood . . . Your nose is amazing. Mine tends to spread across my face a bit like peanut butter. It’s adorable on my kids though.
I was part of the last minute hordes on an egg run at the grocery store this morning. Reaching for a dozen eggs, my nose started sniffing in the opposite direction from where I was reaching and looking. A man walked past me and his scent hit me in the memories of 8th grade. I don’t remember what he looked like. It didn’t even matter. He reminded me of a boy in a semester length typing class. I loved walking past him because he smelled like his black leather jacket and Drakkar Noir. I didn’t have a crush on him. I just loved smelling him.
Dial antibacterial hand soap reminds me of a particular summer. I once bought a ginormous refill bottle that lasted the entire summer. There was a blonde skater who was in the middle of renovating his house. He used the same soap in his bathroom, and that scent always reminds me of him. One whiff reminds me of him, but it only took two dates to decide he wasn’t worth my time or the free drinks.
Old Spice reminds me of a frat boy with a gift for a single handed bra removal, and a love of binge drinking. He was an engineering major, and dorky enough to be cute. He didn’t always wear it, but the one time he did left a memory that revives itself when I smell the original after shave. He loved how tall I was and had the silkiest black hair. At the end of the day, commitment was never meant to be part of our relationship.
Sun tan oil reminds me of a season in skate shops and sandalwood scented sex wax. That was a spring filled with Boone’s Farm, sage smudge sticks and nicotine kisses. It was a time when I could expect a hand picked bouquet of some neighbor’s flowers each day.
Lately my scent memory reminds me I have a history before marriage and I will have a future after this one. There will probably be a next husband once I get past the fear of being open to the first date. I wonder what that will smell like.