On smells

I was going to call this, “on odors,” but I thought differently–odors are all smells, but not all smells are odors. Being blessed (or maybe cursed) with a sensitive nose, I have often hesitated to share my perceptions about how the world smells. Cities are particularly full of diverse smells, and nothing speaks to urban spaces like the smell of unburned diesel in the morning. It’s not a smell I like, particularly, but it is familiar. Of course, people give off a wide variety of smells, but there is nothing worse than someone who has perfumed their unwashed body. Nothing speaks to decadence quite like the combination of old sweat, rank cigarette smoke, and stale beer–a sort of bitter vinegary smell. The secret for smelling good as a person is simple: bathe and then use other smells sparingly–that’s intoxicating. You catch the person’s clean smell mixed lightly with flowers, spices, citrus, and it’s an experience you soon won’t forget. A word to the wise: never wear yesterday’s clothes if possible. Anything fresh, except for excrement, usually smells pretty good; anything dead should get gas mask treatment. The smell in most funeral homes is, for me, a nightmare smell that is hard to get out of my head. I have to hold my breath when walking past a beauty salon because of the intense horrible smells of the chemicals being used. Same goes for those candle stores in the malls. I actually don’t mind most subways which are combination of mechanical smells, moldy water, and people. For some reason that combination comforts me and means I’m on my way home. My favorite smells? Freshly baking cookies and breads, cut grass, a recently cleaned house, clothing coming out of the dryer, bookstores, freshly ground coffee, milk, cheese, and yoghurt, jamón serrano (a Spanish delicacy), wine, whiskey, freshly cut cedar, cloves and cinnamon, roasting meats, pizza, lillacs (the actually blooming plant), roses, and the wilderness. Of course, the chemical smell of new cars is very popular, but not with me. I find movie theaters with all their sweaty people and greasy foods to be a little overwhelming and decadent. Chain restaurants are sickening for the same reasons. The worse smell ever? Vomit, of course.