It is a good feeling to come home after a day at work with three key goals in mind: work out, make dinner, and grade essays. It’s an even better feeling when you accomplish not one or even two of these goals, but in fact you accomplish all three.
I read a really interesting article in The New Yorker this weekend entitled The Dime Store Floor by David Owen. It’s all about how smells can trigger memories.
The author and his sister embark on a childhood “smell tour” where they visit their old childhood haunts and see whether or not they still smell the same. I loved this article because I’m always trying to impress upon my students how important sensory detail is in writing, and this essay explores that concept in a very literal way.
This essay also made me think about smells from my own childhood and the memories they trigger. I think Old Spice must be the staple scent of all American fathers because it is a scent I associate strongly with my dad. Apparently my dad’s choice of deodorant resonated with not just the humans in the house, but also the animals. This became clear when he accidentally left the lid off of his Old Spice only to have our tiny tiger cat, Kit-Kat, knock it over and rub against it until she was slick with the scent.
Some of my other “smells” are also more common. For example, the smell of cinnamon, fresh cut grass, and lilacs. However, I also associate strong memories to the smell of Listerine. My grandfather always uses the mouthwash as part of his nightly routine. I also attribute the smell of onions to my grandmother and any sort of holiday. It’s a fun exercise to think about what smells trigger what memories.
2 thoughts on “A Productive Evening…”
Your amaryllis is beautifull, a bright spot in the winter. I, as you know, have a very strong sense of smell and your blog has made me think of smells I associate with things…………..cool exercise, and not just for students. 🙂
Same thing works for sound, especially music. I'm sure you have heard a song on the radio or in an elevator that triggers a memory. “Let It Be” by the Beatles always takes me back to a drunkard stupor at a high school dance in high school.
“Like a Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon and Garfunkel takes me back to the state wrestling championships my senior year just before my last match. I kicked some backcountry ass.
There's a late 70's song that was popular when we were in CA that always reminds me of CA, actually more specifically driving on the Simi Valley freeway late saturday am after a morning of shopping at Leachmere in Van Nuys and being pulled over by a CHIPS for something we had tied to the 1974 lime green subaru rack. Can't think of the name of the song or band but without exception it always triggers that same memory. BTW, we did not get a ticket.