Smells, Odors, and Scents

Everyone has a favorite smell…fresh baked bread, new car, puppy breath, to name a few.  But what if those “favorite” smells invoke a different reaction in other people?

There are some scents that make me shudder and make my skin crawl.   I believe it has a lot to do with certain incidents in my childhood where a particular odor was present.

For instance…when I was a child, my siblings and I would sometimes play in a park in our hometown where there were a lot of Russian Olive trees.  Anyone growing up in our area of the country would easily recognize a Russian Olive as a twisty-trunked tree with small sage green leaves, usually found in farm windbreaks or along creeks and rivers. The trees bore small, hard olives that were not edible due to the large pit inside.  In the springtime, the Russian Olive tree would be covered with small white pungent blossoms you could smell from hundreds of feet away.  There are a lot of people who love the smell of Russian Olive blossoms; I am not one of them. Why? Because in the park where we played, when the Russian Olives were in bloom, my brother F told me that it was the smell of drunk people passed out in the bushes.  Where he got that idea, I have no clue.  But from that day on whenever I smell a Russian Olive blossom, I can almost see people lying in their own vomit under a tree, and it makes me gag.

The smell of potato chips gives me the shivers, as well.  Once when I was little our family went to a picnic sponsored by an organization my father belonged to.  I was probably 4 or 5 at the time.  There was a bowl of potato chips on a picnic table, and we were told that anyone could eat them. My problem was that there was a blind man sitting at the table right in front of the chips. A blind man who had no eyes, just empty sockets, and to this little girl, that was about as horrible as anything. Even worse, he was eating the potato chips, having no problem finding the bowl, without eyes to guide his hand.   Yes, with age comes experience and with experience comes knowledge and with knowledge comes acceptance. But for this little girl whose first experience with a blind person was accompanied by the smell of potato chips, I was scarred for life. Not toward handicapped persons, but toward the smell of potato chips.

Chanel #5. To me, it smells like Raid bug spray.

Stetson cologne makes me want to vomit.  I worked with a man once who would practically bathe in the stuff to hide the odor of booze on him when he came to work. You could smell him approaching even before he got out of his car.

Watermelon pickles. Marigolds. Curry powder. 7-up. All of these odors make my stomach roll and twist. Go figure.  But I’m sure there is some correlation with those odors and some unpleasant experience from my past.

Am I the only one?


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