Sweeten at Your Peril


Experts say:  “We recall smells associated with past events in our lives:   That cologne your Mom wore… aromas filtering out of the kitchen,  just before dinner… your Dad’s sweaty smell, when he’d finished mowing the grass on a sweltering-hot day, as he hoist you (a little one) onto his shoulders.

Smells generally divide into two categories: Pleasant or malodorous.

The smell of freshly-mown grass is generally appealing (unless one’s allergic.) People’s homes have a smell (each has its own personality)…Some people’s breath is good or bad…

‘Scent’ is generally alluring, as in “Scent of a Woman.”

Or the scent of the flower, jasmine… pungent in the air of a Savannah garden.

Its effects are always individual.

For instance, paperwhites’ scent is overpowering, to me (Word to the wise: Don’t give me a potted plant of paperwhites, that harbinger of spring, to set on my windowsill.)  Their sweet scent sickens me (a little alliterative?)

Same goes for lilies, a perennial favorite. Why don’t I like? Their pungent perfume puts me right back at the scene of too many funerals I endured at a young age.

But I digress.

I remember scents I wore as a young woman and scents I associate with men.  In my White Shoulders phase, white shouldersI went out with a dashingly-handsome young Army officer who looked like Paul Newman. He invited me out for a week-long celebration of his graduation from Officer Training School in Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

Good thing he was terrific-looking because the setting wasn’t. I recall looking out the window, as my plane approached the landing field, only to see arid, brown flatlands.

When we passed through the town to get to his military base, I noted pawn shops everywhere…I’d never seen any before and didn’t know why they sprang up there, in what I considered a God-forsaken wasteland.

But as I said, he was handsome—remarkably so. The cologne he wore?  English Leather. english leatherIf I catch a whiff of either today, I’m transported back to that day, our time together, and that specific region of Oklahoma.

When I wasn’t dabbing on White Shoulders, I liked Shalimar.  It came in an interesting bottle, with an usual stopper, mystical and foreign, like its name. It seemed to promise that by wearing it, I’d be the same.

I can remember the young men, too, of my Shalimar period.  shalimarOne was a middle Eastern, so he and the perfume fit into my simplistic generalizations.

Now, here’s the interesting part (in my estimation.) These scents are still available today…altho’ I don’t know anyone who wears them.  I stopped dousing myself years ago, when I realized many people are repelled by perfumes.

They’re allergic…they react…they can’t tolerate them.

The business world also helped me realize just how risky the wearing of perfume is.  There were times, as realtor, I’d share a ride with another realtor or customer who’d sprayed herself, liberally.

My reaction?  I was close to gagging.

There was the time I’d given a ride to a fellow choir member who’d been asked by the director on several occasions NOT to wear perfume.  But she persisted. In singing situations, perfume can cause a vocalist’s voice to shut down. I stopped giving her rides.

Finally, I remember well the smells, for they propel me back in time, and scientists note: Smell is the most powerful sense…It’s the one that remains with us longest after other senses have lost their potency.

And, perfumes?  Many don’t wear, today.  If they do, they’re usually younger. The trend usually goes the way of sugar consumption:  When one is young, he/she uses liberally (8 tsps. per cup?) while the practice falls off, each year… almost directly proportionate to one’s age.

I’m at an age when I use no sugar or perfume….I prefer being “au naturel.”

***Now, do you have your own special scents that kick on your memories?  Do share…



About admin

A lifetime teacher and realtor who's now a published writer, Colleen Kelly Mellor is a humorist first, ever aware of the thread that connects us all. Her works have appeared in the WSJ, Providence Journal, and CNN and NY Times-acclaimed medical blog, kevinMD.com, to name a few. All material on this blog is exclusive property of the author and cannot be reproduced without this author's express written consent.
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