Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Got Stink?

When I read that the aroma of green apples can control appetite, I laughed.  Stuff a green apple up my nose and then serve me a pizza. See if I don’t scarf it down with as much gusto as I would if I didn’t have fruit lodged in my nostrils.

Good or bad, smells can influence us and they can permeate your memories just like your clothes can absorb odors.

When I get a whiff of freshly baked peach cobbler I’m transported to the days when  Granny had chicken and dumplins on the table and a cobbler in the oven. Her house filled with family and friends from far and near.  A constant roar rising from everyone talking at and over everyone else, reaching a point of chaos if you weren’t used to the rapid fire conversations.

A Norman Rockwell family we weren’t. But we had love and hope and acceptance. The smell of peach cobbler brings me back to all those wonder feelings.

But not all scent associations are positive.

Late one afternoon, Professor X and I went to an early dinner with a certain  someone.  I climbed in the backseat of Prof X’s two-door car so that this certain someone could ride up front. 

Within seconds of us pulling out of the garage, I thought I would have a heat stroke. Being cramped into a black car that’s absorbed the unrelenting  mid-August-in-Florida sun is like being stuffed in an oven. Taking pity on my sweat-induced fanning fit, Prof X (bless his heart)  turned on the car’s  A/C full blast. 

What hit me in the face can’t  be described by such mambie-pambie words like foul, pungent, or atrocious. I don’t think that a word exists in the English language that would come close to describing a stink worse than a rotting corpse three times over.

Tears trickled from the corners of my eyes as I squinted against the brutal bombardment of  this stench. My stomach somersaulted, violently, and made a desperate attempt to claw through my back in order to squirm into the trunk to hide. I didn’t dare open my mouth to speak.  I didn’t want that funk imprinted on my tongue or cloyed in my throat.

Prof X was oblivious to the smell and to my plight. So was the certain someone riding with us. The certain someone to whom  I now refer to as Pepe le Pew.

The decrepit odor swirled around Pepe like the dust cloud surrounding Charlie Brown’s friend Pigpen.

I  realized two crappy truths  about two-door cars. The backseat has no windows to roll down or doors to jump out of.  I wouldn’t have waited for a stop sign or red light .  Road rash was worth the chance to breathe fresh air.

Once we stopped at the restaurant, I might’ve knocked Pepe over in my zeal to get away from him. I say “might have” because I was oxygen deprived from holding my breath for ten miles and I was on the fringe of an out of body experience. Even the eternal being within me wanted  to get the heck away from that god-awful smell.

It’s imprinted in my brain. Not only the smell, but the nausea associated with it and the feeling of being trapped. All of it  comes rushing back at the mere thought of climbing into the backseat of a car.

Some people can’t smell skunks. I wish I was one of them. Maybe I wouldn’t have been affected by Pepe.

Smell cells renewed every twenty-eight days, so basically you get a new nose every month. That’s good news to me. I needed a new one after that repulsive experience.

Want to ensure mosquitoes stay away from your outdoor bar-b-que? Decorate with smelly socks.  Or have a friend with really stinky feet stand in the back corner of the yard. 

Researchers have found mosquitoes are four times more attracted to the smell of stinky socks than they are to people.  Scientists hope to find a way to cheaply mass-produce the stinky sock smell to help fight malaria by using the scent to lure the mosquitoes to their death.

Stressed? Anxious? Blood pressure too high? Before running to the doctor for a handful of prescription meds try eating more beans.  A 2008 study suggests that the stink in farts controls blood pressure.  I really would’ve hated to have been a volunteer for that study group.

Had an accident in your new car?  You could’ve been drunk on the new car scent, according to one study.  Apparently the fumes from the upholstery and carpet can be toxic and cause light-headedness and fainting spells. A Colorado man’s defense team claim the “new car smell” may have caused him to hit a cyclist Vail.   I’m not sure how they’ll explain why he left the scene of the accident instead of calling 9-1-1.

Got a stink story? Share your ordeal.

Or, if you have a sweet-smelling memory indulge me with that too.

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5 comments:

Shakespeare said...

Smell has so many associations for me. Christmas memories are triggered more when I use Scotch tape than when I decorate the tree. Wrapping presents... mmm...

On one move, when I was in 9th grade, my family and I spent a month in a hotel before we found a house, and every morning before school we ate danishes and watched VOLTRON. To this day I cannot smell a danish without thinking of the cartoon.

They say one of the ways a patient is tested for alzheimer's is through a smell test. Not recognizing basic smells (losing one's smell memory) is a sign that the brain is experiencing severe deterioration.

I feel awful for you with regard to this skunk smell in the car. Hard to say whether the smell or the heat was worse.

Angela Orlowski-Peart said...

Argh, mosquitos! These pesky suckers are my worse enemies. I swear but they find me and pick me out of a crowd and cover me in itchy welts. A few days ago I was in my son’s karate class watching the kiddos practice. There were at least fifteen other parents scattered around the room. One nasty mosquito kept circling around the room and coming back to where I sat. Every couple of minutes I would get up from my chair and do a weird dance, flapping my arms around and swearing (well, quietly) in an attempt to chase the creature away. I guess if I had stinky feet, this wouldn’t be happening to me, right? I’m afraid the nature wasn’t that “merciful” with me (chuckle, chuckle).

Shelly said...

Very funny.

Lesann Berry said...

This is sooo Pavlovian. I have an old boyfriend who could corner the mosquito market with his stinky feet. Aromas and scents are some of the best memory enhancements. Certain odors take me back in time or transport me to other places entirely.

I think one of the worst smells was the time my grandmother brought groceries from the market and somehow missed the two (2!)fresh roaster chickens. They slid out of the bag and under the seat when she pulled into the drive. We did not discover them missing until two hot August days later. Holy smokes the smell of dead poultry in an enclosed vehicle, baking in high-desert heat...yowzah. It still makes me gag and that's saying something.

Michelle Fayard said...

What I loved the most about your post is it reminded me that as authors we might forget to overlook including this vital sense in our books. Thank you for the reminder! I'm glad to be a new follower and am glad to welcome you to Bird's-eye View. Have a great weekend. :)

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