|From my mom’s prolific orange trees.|
Fresh citrus. Pumpkin pie. Dark, rich coffee. Ocean spray. Bread baking. Vomit. Garbage. Dirty diapers.
My guess is that you can recall in your mind exactly how those things smell. And exactly how they make you feel. And you probably won’t disagree with me that the nose represents one of our most powerful senses. Smells can instantly take us back in time and call up myriad memories. For instance, tobacco and tic tacs? Grandpa. Downy fabric softener? Mom. Aqua di Gio? Boy I had a crush on in the 10th grade who broke my little heart. When I encounter those scents, I am instantly transported to the time and place where I went bowling with my old Lug every Sunday, hugged my mom or pined after Eric B. incessantly. It’s the same reason why “hospital smell” is such a powerful and familiar memory for many of us.
Some research suggests that our sense of smell is even more influential than the memory* connection I’ve just made. For example, you’ve probably seen articles online about what scents to wear to attract the opposite sex. Well it goes deeper than slathering cucumber or vanilla on your neck (ladies). Some scientific evidence suggests that we can actually smell the DNA of others and that we are likely to be attracted to those individuals who are distinct from us genetically. Granted, when I say “smell,” I don’t mean that you can actually sniff your fellow’s DNA, but that you can sense it subconsciously. Crazy, huh?
Of course what you can smell is important. Research has also demonstrated that the more perfume one wears, the less attractive they appear to others. Let me repeat: The more stink you spray on, the uglier you appear.
So I beg you, as the author of last spring’s “Stink Related Public Service Announcement,” and a frequenter of public spaces, please go easy on the spritz. Chicks at the gym? Tahitian Vanilla Sunrise is not an appropriate accoutrement for the elliptical. Yes, it was me that actually had to move away from you to keep from throwing up last week. And gentleman in the airport? Dial down the Old Spice. You are not, in fact, on a horse.
Shawna, The Girl Who Gets a Headache from Everything
* Student types: I read a couple years ago that studying with a particular scent can help you perform better on tests. For instance, study with a stick of cinnamon or peppermint extract. Then bring those smells to class and they’re supposed to help you recall the information better. Someone try this and let me know if it works!