Regarding our lovely noses - what is your favorite smell, the worst smell and a smell that brings back (good or bad) memories?
Best: Freshly baked bread.
Worst: Rotting dead animal in the lot across the street that had to be removed by animal control.
Memory: Lilacs - reminds me of my grandmother who loved them and had lilac bushes in her yard, and even wore lilac perfume.
Best: Summer rain in the Sierras.
Worst: Melenic stool.
Memory: Molten sulfur, which my brother shoved under my nose and said, “Smell this!”
Best - I have to say it’s a tie between chocolate chip cookies and the nape of my wife’s neck.
Worst - once my wife put the rice cooker away still 1/2 full of rice. I pulled it out 2 weeks later, popped the lid and just barely made it to the kitchen sink before hurling. Wost smell in the world.
Memory inducing - onions and garlic frying in good olive oil. Takes me back to being 3 or 4 years old in my grandmothers kitchen almost immediately.
Best: cookies baking, any kind
Worst: my husband after meals, any kind but spicy especially
Memory: lilacs, our back yard was full of them while I was growing up, and my mother loved them.
Best - fresh baked bread, various meals
Worst - a decomposing sheep in a confined space
Memory - honestly the sheep is the most memorable
Best: bread baking
Worst: scorched hair/skin. I hated that smell when I first encountered it in hair salons, then I really learned to hate it after working in steam plants.
Most Memorable: Salt water estuary - coming back into port.
Best smell - I love shoving my nose in my dog’s fur and smelling him. Faintly doggy, but with traces of something else, like outdoors and trees with sometimes a hint of animal poop or dead thing he’s rolled in.
Worst smell - whatever gawdawful perfume my coworker feels compelled to drench herself in most days. Close runner up is Brut cologne. Instantly gag inducing.
Memorable - fibreglass curing. Reminds me of visiting my Dad’s boatbuilding workshop when I was a kid.
Best: pork shoulder in the smoker.
Worst: that burning tooth smell when the dentist is drilling in your mouth. You may not feel anything, but that smell more than makes up for it.
Memorable: living a quarter of a mile from the main bakery of Montgomery Donuts. I could always find my way home by the smell.
Best: my husband when he has just a lingering smell of Africa aftershave; my son, who smells salty and warm; and my daughter who smells sweet, slightly sour and a little bit spicy.
Worst: the interior of a cubby at the bank where I have our safe deposit box. It smelled like a combination of B.O., shit, vomit, decay and air freshener.
Memorable: White Linen - it was a perfume line and my mom used the bath powder every day - even though she doesn’t use it anymore, it seems to have seeped into her skin because I smell the memory of it every time I hug her; bacon - the scent of it woke me up the first time I was allowed to sleep in past 7, when I was 12. It was such a delicious feeling to wake up, fully rested, the sun pouring into the bedroom. We had moved the day before and were all exhausted. It was also my first time sleeping in a double bed. I couldn’t believe how big it was.
Best: The grass, immediately after I finish mowing while pounding down a cold one.
Worst: A body, found in an old water well on property where I was doing contract work installing water pipe. It was the homeowner’s best friend, who had fallen through the old rotted wooden cover weeks before apparently while walking around. Absolutely indescribable stench (and yes I lost my cookies right there.)
Memorable: The Mrs. Bairds bread bakery alongside IH-35 in Fort Worth. I used to go to work with my father every day and remember the wonderful aroma along that 1/2 mile of road. The bakery is still there, but you can’t smell anything any more (they’ve apparently put in filters to reduce emissions).
Not just any garage floor. The worst smell ever was from some muddy type overflow being cleaned up at an auto dealership service bay down south. It was dark gray as expected from a drain. It must have been the mix of petrochemicals and cleaning agents combined. I never smelled anything like it since. And I’m a person who somewhat enjoys horse barn smells and even skunks.
The best smell is going to be freshly baked goods or maybe an attractive woman. I have to add that last item because a combination of sensory input can augment the judgment of what is a “good” smell.
Worst: Green pepper. It actually makes me physically gag.
Memory: Honeysuckle - the scent of the first perfume my grandmother gave me when I was a kid. (I hate the smell, but that’s what it reminds me of.)
Best: Hint of laundry soap on freshly washed sheets. Or maybe freshly cut grass.
Worst: A turkey farm my class visited in kindergarten. Just typing that brings the overwhelming odor right back. I think what made it my worst was that we were closed in. I don’t mind typical barnyard smells.
Memory inducing? Too many to list. Turpentine sends me right back to art school 25 years ago. My son’s high is architecturally similar and built with the same materials as the one I attended. The gym smells the same, the stair wells smell the same. I get very nostalgic when I’m there. My first mother-in-law wears Jovan Musk. They still sell it but I don’t believe it’s as popular as it once was. WE live on opposite coasts, but every once in a while I’ll catch a whiff of it and assume she’s nearby. My son has been know to say “Someone smells like Grandma C.”
Reverse case - a memory that evokes a smell. I was just talking about this. When I was a kid The Wizard of Oz was played on TV once a year. It was a big deal to get to stay up. My sister and I had to have our baths early. Somehow that film and the smell of Johnson & Johnson’s “No More Tangles” (a hair product for kids, a precursor to leave-in conditioner) are permanently swirled together in my head.
Best: Horses. That lovely combination of manure, hay, sawdust, sweat & leather. It is intoxicating to me.
Worst: Plastic being purged from ma machine at a factory.
Memory inducing: Honeysuckle & pine. The stable where I boarded my first horse at had a forest of pine trees all around it, and the entire front of the property was covered in honeysuckle. The memories of those scents as I drove down the driveway with the windows open always make me remember the best days of my life.
Best: the doorway into a bakery
Worst: stale tobacco and cheap perfume on the same person
Memory: the taste of rosemary, which my mother always put in her spaghetti sauce
Best: a batch of brewing beer-nice!
Worst: the smell of rancid grease from a fast food/ratburger stand
Most Memorable: my grandfather’s house-faint odor of rot, lavender (my grandmother’s favorite scent, and cigar tobacco. One whiff and I’m back at age 5.
Really bad? Chicken coop on a hot day.
Good ones? Too many to list.
Best: Rain air.
Worst: Jovan Musk for Men.
Memory: Baking ham with whole cloves is the only thing that makes me miss Christmas.
Best- Fresh Baked Cinnamon Rolls (even though I now find them too sweet to eat)
Worst- Old, past expiration date, Kaopectate on a spoon. Although that is memory inducing also.
Memory Inducing: Honey Suckle in Bloom. It reminds me of those Spring/ Early Summer days when I’d pass by an over-grown metal fence covered with blossoms while walking home from school, pick one, pull out the stem, and taste the sweet nectar.
Spring, Where For Art Thou…?
Here’s the thread I started on scent memories so long ago.