Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Smells Like...



On one of my writing group pages a friend posted a quote:


One of the real tests of writers, especially poets, is how well they write about scents.
~Diane Ackerman

 

In my smart ass fashion I said "That's why I avoid them like the plague" or thereabouts, to which she challenged me to do it as an exercise. Now, I usually avoid challenges like the plague too, unless by doing so it might threaten my manly man status, or, if they sound like fun. This one met the latter criteria. So without further psychobabble, a series of scents, by the pen of Bragi Stringbreaker, King's Bard.


The barn smelled like Timmy Davison... who claimed a fatal allergy to soap and a psychotic aversion to water, who ate cloves of garlic as others might eat Oreos, who had brushed his teeth last 16 years ago, and found it not to his liking, and who changed his socks only once the current pair had decayed off his feet.
 
The book smelled of fantasy; of leather saddles and spilled blood, of dragon fire, chain mail and sharpening stone, acidic yet sweet, spiced yet smooth, rich, yet accessible.
 
The room smelled of sex; sex between a very confused platypus and a rabid raccoon, one of whom had spent the day rummaging through the dumpster behind Twilliger's Bakery and Coffee Cafe.
 
The dog was wet, so naturally smelled like poop; the poop of a vegetarian dinosaur whose entire diet consisted of skunk cabbage, causing the animal great colonic distress and the obligatory hemorrhoids that come with eating a singular species of plant life that just happens to smell like rotting meat.
 
When she entered the dining room... I thought a cadaver had been found in the kitchen. It was our first date. It would take some adjusting on my part if we were to enjoy a second.
 
As I lay my head in her lap... I was reminded of lutefisk, a fish so naturally inedible it must be soaked in lye for weeks before boiling it into a pudding like gel; a delicacy in Scandinavia, a region famous for the creation of tree bark soup and Lemming Loin Lyonnaise.


The child smelled like curiosity… as in I was curious how something so small could smell so hugely monstrous.


I had reached my destination so I shut off the air conditioning and powered open all the windows so as to breathe in the city where I would be living for the foreseeable future…. And that’s when it finally dawned on me that I have an aversion to the smell of raw sewage tinged with the slightest hint of pesticide manufacturing plant fumes.


Following the advice of an anonymous person acclaimed for their wisdom, I stopped to smell a rose… and the moment my face neared the flower a flock of stinkbugs rose from the mulch below to devour a fair portion of my nose, leaving me unable to smell anything from that day forward beyond the horrifying odor of toilette du stinkbug.


As she set down the plate and invited me to eat I felt overwhelmed… not only that she’d been so kind as to serve a starving man when it was obvious she was neither a cook nor a certified personal hygienist, but that she could have prepared mashed potatoes in such a way as to make them smell as if she’d yanked them from the carcass of a rotting zebra that had spent many of its death days in the belly of a whale.

I’m sure I could do this all day, but I’ll spare you, though now you know… if you ever need to describe a scent and just can’t find the right phrase... well, I’m here for you, that’s all I can say.

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