Stink In The Dark
There was a time when a person could have recognized their best friend’s home, even if blindfolded, by smell alone. Same goes for your grandparent’s house, your piano teacher’s and the nice, but wacky, lady down the street that always made you “step inside” when she paid her newspaper bill (then offered you unwrapped candy that had been around since the Roosevelt years, but that’s another story).
Once, everyone’s home had a distinct aroma. A trademark smell unlike any other’s. Believe me, I know, because these smells are imprinted upon my memory.
Best friend’s house:
Bakery pastries. I loved grocery day at her house.
Motor oil, cigarettes. Poppy was a truck driver with a bad habit.
Wet dog. Self-explanatory.
Nice but Wacky lady:
A cross between Brussel sprouts and Raid.
We should feel sorry for kids today. When they grow up and leave home they’ll have no smell memories to take with them. And why is this? I’ll tell you. America has become a country of odorphobes. The thought of sniffing something identifiable is now more abhorrent to the average citizen than a cockroach in the butter dish.
And what is my evidence for this fact? Coupons. I use to be a coupon clipper, cheap…er, thrifty person that I am. But, lately I’ve only been able to find perhaps one coupon for something my family really needs, like Pudding Pops, in the sizable stack that comes in my Sunday paper—the rest of the coupons are for products intent on deodorizing the universe by way of sprays, candles, mists, foggers, electrical outlet gizmos, and now even perfumy, psychadelic light show thingies determined to turn your toddler into a Deadhead.
Yes, America is afraid of stink. And particularly, stink in the dark. Why else would there be so many products that combine deodorization and illumination? Every department store now has at least one full aisle devoted to candles alone with a special team of carefully trained sales associates in Haz-Mat suits to assist you. (see illustration above of carefully trained sales associate who has obviously found the store's dumping grounds where he will determine whether this large candle--a lovely, lime-scented aromatherapy selection for the coffee table--can be put back onto the stocking shelves or must be turned over to the officials at Homeland Security)
The candle aisle is easy to find, just listen for the sounds of apoplectic sneezing or simply walk in the opposite direction of the asthmatic shoppers who are making haste away from that area.
Once you have donned your Area 51-tested gas mask (available at the Lay-away counter), taken a mega dose of allergy pills, and secured your safety goggles, you’re ready to make your selection from the olfactory-dazzling array.
My personal favorite is the one that sends little smelly puffs up into the air at regular intervals. I could see this coming in very handy if I’m ever out west and need to get word to a neighboring tribe. Not only will I be able to signal them that John Wayne and the U.S. Cavalry are just over the next ridge, but I can do it with the aroma of White Linen.
And what about our children? We’ve protected them from head injuries by making them wear helmets when they ride their bikes. A good thing. We’ve taken the cyanide out of their wooden playground equipment. Ok. And there’s now real fruit juice in their fruit juice. Very nice. So the next step, logically, is remove all natural smells from their homes and bedrooms and replace them with glowing nightlights emitting the soothing odor of
And when they think back on the house where they grew up, the smell that will instantly come to mind is…uh, wait…um, no, that’s not it…ooh, I almost had it…