I SMELL YOU
It's a charming idea. And as a pipe-smoker myself, I just sheerly love the concept.
I also have a tweed coat.
But there may be more there than meets the eye......
The office where I worked nearly a decade ago was right over a hot-lunch place run by Greeks. They roasted about three dozen chickens every day. Entering the building in the morning, your nose was welcomed with the thick sultry perfume of thyme and warm chicken fat, yes absolutely heavenly!
Why, I bet that when mr. Whatsisnameopoulos went home at night, his little kiddies would run up to bury their wee noses in his jacket, inhaling deeply of the comforting greasy aroma!
Voicing shrill graeco-squeals of pleasure and recognition!
And right about now, the crucial flaw in that Balkan Sobranie story comes into focus, doesn't it?
My coworkers just wouldn't stop bellyaching about the chicken reek.
Sure, none of them were the children of cooks, but evenso. Some smells are NOT universally appealing, much though I wish they were.
Personally, I like the smell of Balkan tobacco blends. I also enjoy the robust fragrance of multitudes of cooking chickens, as well as the whiff of hot tar, the stale-sweat perfume of freshly sharpened pencils, and the tang of certain metal alloys.
Burning mosquito coils, fountain pen and printing inks, old cardboard, extinguished candles.
Some smells just induce a deep sense of bon temps.
In that category, of course, one also finds some 'nose-memories' that are more "traditional".
Your mother's eau de Cologne, the fresh washed smell of a classmate's long long hair, chalkboard erasers, an aunt who carried with her the hint of pak fa yau or jing gwat soei, a favourite teacher's lunch-time bourbon, or the faint faint whisper of lilacs in an old neighbor woman's hallway.
[Pak fa yau (白花油): white flower lotion; a mentholated oil available in small bottles in Chinatown, often used for minor ailments. It's a very old-fashioned smell.
Jing gwat soei (正骨水): 'rectify bones water'; a sharp-smelling liquid rub for sore muscles and bone aches much appreciated by the kung-fu and soccer crowds, also fine for promoting circulation in tired old legs and ankles.]
Cassia. Camphor. Cedar wood.
Vermilion seal ink.
The soft fore-arms of a young girl in mid-summer.
Slightly rotten leaves in Autumn.
Roasting coffee from the Caffe Trieste.
Fog on Jackson Street, between Jones and Leavenworth.
Bruised oranges and tangerines at fruit sellers before Chinese New Year.
Wild herbs on Telegraph hill.
You can probably come up with a similar list. And some of the things that olfactorily speak to you may be a little strange too.
We all have different noses.
You show me yours, I'll show you mine.
I'll even let you smell my tweed coat.
NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.