And I've Got 1, 2, 3, 4, 5...Senses Working Overtime
Today, class, we will be discussing the sense that evokes the most memories in our fellow man.
The sense that makes us
Swoon with delight!
Shudder with fright!
Cry all night!
Pick a fight!
Yes, ladies and gentleman, I'm talking about that prominence, that olfactory factory, that dee-rect non-stop Super Train to the Brain....
More specifically, people, the sense of smell.
I'm sure you've all read the studies published the last few years, what smells trigger what responses in males and females. Cinnamon, cut grass, bread baking, lilacs, all evoke memories of childhood or holidays or what-have-you in most adults.
Oh yes, and lavender.
This is how un-girly I am...I had NO idea what lavender smelled like. I assumed it was like lilacs, because they looked vaguely like them. Girl-child has a scratch-and-sniff book of Gardens, and the roses, cedar, and cut grass smell only vaguely of the real thing...nature mixed with binders glue and cardboard pages. The lavender scratch/sniff page smells like, well, alcohol.
Yesterday, whilst birthday-gift shopping for Sergei, I happened across something in the bookstore that stopped me in my big-footed tracks. "Lavender Linen Spray." Hmm...now, I've read more than my share of parental articles touting the calming benefits of lavender, how parents use it as 'Monster-Under-The-Bed' repellant for their frightened children, spritzing it on their pillows, supposedly bringing blessed relief and deep sleep. Knowing my own insomniacal children (like Dave Attell's "Insomniac", but without the beer and nudie bars), I thought...yes...YES!...this might be good...I need them to sleep.
I picked up the bottle in the store and tried squirting some out, just a lee-tle bit, to smell the smell. I didn't want to get too much out, I was right by the little coffee shop in the bookstore, and the last thing those folks needed was foreign spray in their lattes and biscotti. So I didn't actually SMELL it. I just bought it.
Impulse buyer, me.
I got back to work and pulled the bottle out and squirted my little work cube liberally.
Suddenly I was 6 years old and in the bathtub and my younger brother was there and mom had just given the two of us EACH a squirty can of 'Crazy Foam' which was like soap but FOAM and it was pink! and green! and squishy! and we giggled and squirted it on our hands and chests and in our hair and made crazy devil horns and mohawks and watched it disappear like cotton candy in the warm water and we were then sitting in gray water because of the colors and shook the can and more came out and more and more and we felt SOOOOO lucky!
It was the smell.
Lavender was the smell of Crazy Foam.
That smell has haunted me since childhood. I've tried my entire non-kid life to find out what that smell was called. I've caught whiffs here and there, never quite finding the answer, but wanting to press my face into it.
When I got home last night with girl-child, we sprayed her bedroom and that of her brother. Her eyes got all moony and she moaned, "MMM...this smells gooooooood!" Later,when boy-child was explaining his insomnia to me (probably more as a 'cuddle with me' thing, but I went with it), I got the spray and doused his pillow. He yawned. He rubbed his eyes. He was asleep in minutes, and didn't get up at all until morning. So. There's the rub! It may actually work!
I can't find the article, and I could google all day, that says women have a better sense of smell than men. Usually I pick apart research studies, "the act of observing disturbs the observed" (see epic poem, Schroedinger's Cat), but this particular thing I took at face value. Because I whole-heartedly believe it. I can smell things Sergei can't. Or that the guys I work with can't.
For example, we live in an old house (built 1936), and the plumbing is crazy. Last summer, I couldn't figure out what the stench was upstairs, as hard as I tried. Finally, I stuck my nose in the bathtub drain...A-HA!...stench identified! Sergei couldn't smell it, but to me it smelled like sewer. I got a plug, all is well. Monday I got home with the kids, Sergei was there, and as I walked in the house, I could smell...THAT. I told Sergei, "I'll bet you five dollars the plug on the tub was left out." He shrugged, he couldn't smell anything. I went upstairs, to the bathroom, pulled back the shower curtain, and...YES. The cork was out. Oogh, that smell....
I smell ozone at work when a monitor goes on the fritz.
I smell the cat box, which is in the basement, from the front door.
I smell which child has had an 'accident', and which kind, even if they're in another room.
I smell the toffee tea that a co-worker in a cube two pods over is drinking.
I am often caught at work, or home, or shopping, just sort of wandering with my nose up in the air, sniffing like a very tall bloodhound, for the source of smells. Some of my girlfriends are the same way. The guys? Hmmm...not so much.
So here are some things to ponder:
1) What smells evoke the strongest memories in you?
2) Do you think there is a gender difference in the sensitivity to smells?
(sniff) Someone just made a fresh pot of coffee. Think I'll wander over there now. Class dismissed.