Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Until You Walk a Mile in Another Man's Moccasins You Can't Imagine the Smell

I know, I've been lagging in my posts lately. That's because I'm glued to this computer 24/7 and not in a good way, i.e. to blog, comment and/or check the myriad of crap celebrity gossip sites I have to visit in one day just to attain that right level of smugness about Moi's own life.

And when I'm not working, I'm reading. Specifically, this:


Those who know me well know I am totally scent-obsessed. It started when I was a little girl. Because I had a habit of constantly wandering off on my own, when out and about my mother kept me near to her at all times by holding tight to my hand. A move that put me right in line with her own hand and wrist. (And by the way, helped my mother to develop some freakishly ambidextrous skills).

But other than keeping me safe, my mother's grip also introduced me to something else: her perfume. For years, she doused herself each morning with Ma Griffe, and for years I associated that smell with my mother. In fact, it would be a long time before I realized that her smell actually came from a bottle and not, as I'd assumed, out of the pores of her own skin. Which meant I could smell that way, too. Only I wasn't allowed. Perfume, she said, was not for little girls. To this day, I cannot smell Ma Griffe without being instantly reminded of my mother. Sometimes, if I'm really missing her, I'll drop by our city's local perfume shop and have the sales assistant spritz me some Ma Griffe on a scent card.

I'm sure you all have had similar experiences. Because, male or female, scent is one of our most powerful senses. And yet, our most profoundly mysterious. I never realized how much until I started reading The Emperor of Scent, which is, in a nutshell, the story of a man who tries to come up with the first scientific explanation for how and why we smell. Seriously. No one's ever been able to do it before. It's our greatest molecular biology mystery.

So, if you do nothing else within the next couple weeks, expand your brain by going to the library and reading the first chapter of this book. I don't know about you, but I love being reminded on a daily basis what complex, freakish organisms we human beings really are.

That's all. Go. Read. I'll be back.

55 comments:

Anonymous Boxer said...

My Mom wore White Linen - it can stop me in my tracks if I smell it.

You know, I love reads like this so I think I may pick it up..... I've found some of my most favorite books on blogs.

Work on! :-)

Wicked Thistle said...

Please, you read and tell me? I want to know all, but brain not enough for so many words right now.

lalita said...

It's really amazing how smell activates the primitive brain and evokes emotions that you can't really control.
I recently had an affair with a guy who I don't even like that much and think that he's quite boring but his smell..something clicked wrong in my brain and I was going super horny nuts when I smelled him. And I could sense him from quite a distance or know whether he's been in the building. It was quite horrible to be so smitten with him and knowing that it's just some of his sweat mixed with his perfume that activate "sex, here and now" pathway in my brain. It made me completely loose my mind and do all sorts of really stupid things.

moi said...

AB: White Linen is a highly underrated scent. Love it.

Wicked: Aw, are we feeling a little bit like all we can do is stare at the TV? It's the chillruns, isn't it?

lalita: Hey, welcome to Moi's blob! I had a boyfriend like that in Jr. High - Whenever we were together, I'd go home afterward and put my clothing in paper bags to preserve the scent. It's like I was addicted.

Recently, I forced my spousal unit to try one of my favorite new scents – Andy Tauer's Lonestar Memories – and it melded into his skin in such a way it was almost gourmand. I followed him around all afternoon like a love struck school girl.

Gypsy said...

I love White Linen but more recently have been hooked on Dolce & Gabbana. I had to stop wearing it because it reminded me of things best forgotten so now I have to find a new favourite.

I do like the new Avon one Rouge by Christian LaCroix. I normally hate Avon perfume but this is really beautiful.

A person's smell can certainly do crazy things to your brain. It is indeed our most powerful sense as a human being.

moi said...

Gypsy: Avon has actually put out some wonderful perfumes. And then there's Skin So Soft. Love it or hate it, it is nonetheless one of the great scent creations of all time.

Which D&G? The only one of theirs I know is Light Blue, which I think is beautifully composed and bound to be a classic, but I can only appreciate it on a scent card. On my skin, it turns all screaming bowl of rotting fruit.

she said...

i've got a fragrance story. remember "skin" by bonne bell? i was my high school fragrance. its a sweet musk. anyway, i found some and bought it - in a fit of middle aged crazy i suppose.

i kid you not - men stopped me and asked what are you wearing? i mean grab my arm and stop me. of course i lied and said some hideous perfume (oh...like, say, jungle gardenia) so that they would wonder why their wife or whatever didnt smell as great as that nice woman at the art store. grrrrehahahahaha!! mean streak alert!

my theory: "skin" reminds the boys of a ninth grade hard on. nuff said. grrrrrrrrrherhahahahahaha!


my daily driver is "pure grace" by philosophy. i also like "fresh sugar".

i think D&G blue smells great - i only know it from a magazine flap though.

interesting post. i'll wait and see if you will tell the lazy among your readers the essential content. thanks thistle.

moi said...

She: Oh, God. I remember Skin. What a fragrance! And I think you hit on its appeal, right there. Hee!

No. I will not summarize. I will see which of y'all actually go out and read the ding dang book and report back to Moi. 'Cause I'm bossy that way :o)

Anonymous Boxer said...

**going out to find "Skin"**

Anonymous Boxer said...

P.S. My first big love in H.S. finally asked me out and I was over the moon happy... until I got close to him and realized I could not stand how he smelled... it wasn't "bad", as in body odor... it was something else. I broke it off almost immediately.

smell is primal.

Melissaria said...

...and some fools in Boston are handing over $2000 a go to have their DNA sampled and matched by a dating agency that works on the basis of scent. Apparently it's to do with the ability to sniff out genes that are sufficiently different from your own to amke a good breeding match. Makes sense. Sort of. Dogs sniff butts all the time, so maybe they knew all along?

moi said...

AB: Bonnie Bell should cut She in on some luv. 'Cause I think we'll ALL be going out and looking for Skin now. That and 7-Up Lip Smackers. Or will that just be Moi?

Melissaria: Well, the older I get, the more I believe that dogs know everything we don't. It will be interesting to see what these Bostonian smarty pants come up with.

NYD said...

There are so many aromas that I find scintillating and many are attached to some kind of pleasant memory.

One of my favorites is to meander through the produce section of the supermarket and inhale the heady mixture of all the different fruit and vegetables.

she said...

some research suggests you should wipe yourself down with a sugar cookie if you want nookie. grrherhahahaha

skin smells good AB!

upset waitress said...

Sand & Sable. Reminds me of a gal from High School. But hey, I've been looking for a good read. That book sounds really interesting. I'm heading to the library tomorrow. Will definitely look for it. Thanks for the suggestion!

moi said...

nyd: When ruby red grapefruit starts hitting the bins – that's the best!

She: Baked goods + nookie has been working for Moi for years. Way to man's heart and all that . . . and to mine.

Upset: Now there's a perfume I haven't thought of in a while. And the book will serve double duty: it's small enough to carry around, with bulk enough to smack your customers.

The Troll said...

TROLL SLAW:

A Red Cabbage.
2 Fuji Apples.
Olive Oil.
White Wine Vinegar.
Anise Seeds.

Remove core from cabbage and slice thinly. Core and peel apples and slice thinly. Place in large container (with lid) Douse with 1.5 tablespoons oil and 3 tablespoons vinegar. Sprinkle with lightly crushed anise seeds. Cover and keep refrigerated one hour before serving to blend favors.

moi said...

Troll: Ah. I'll put you down in the Food Smell Guy category.

upset waitress said...

Well, this book is at the other 2 libraries in my county. I have it on hold. We'll see.

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