Name an Evocative Smell: Survey Says…

So this is weird.

I was reading a magazine and it had one of those perfume scratch-and-sniff peel-apart ads. So far not weird. It was for “Obsession: Night for Men,” and had this typical picture of Calvin Klein sullen squinty androgynous people in dark water (starring Jennifer Connelly OMG!). Also not weird.

Spooky perfume

For some reason I went and smelt what the ad dealt, and my knee-jerk reaction was “oh, I don’t like that at all.” (This is prolly because I am used to trucking in lady perfumes, not man perfumes, cos…)

Hey wait a minnit…

Sniff #2 reveals that I know this cologne from somewhere… and that I *like* it. Now, the ad says “a new fragrance yada yada,” so I could be totally making this up and never have smelt it before (what I`m thinking is that it isn’t so different from Regular Old Obsession for Men and that’s what I’ve smelt.)

The point is suddenly I realized what this cologne evoked for me was that I smelt it on someone who was hot. Can’t remember who. And I dunno if it was someone I had the hots for on general principle or just the hots right then at that moment.

A year ago this wouldn’t have been a hard mystery to crack. But there are three mitigating factors with film school:

  • You have to stand still in close quarters a lot. So I`m 1st AC and crammed in the shadow-proof corner with the boom op for a three-minute take and God help us if either of us forgot pit stick this morning. This means I know what people smell like when ordinarily only their girlfriend or mom or barber would. This also means when people are smelly, and damn there are some smelly ones, you are all up in it.


  • When you are on set, at least in my experience, an extraordinary proportion of people are hot for about five minutes. Like, OMG you reverse engineered the digital compressor for the Stage 5 camera and fixed the dead pixel YOU ARE SO HOT RITE NOW*. Then a couple of minutes later they do something obnoxious and you’re back to normal.

    *Imaginary B.S. situation I made up. That pixel is never coming back.

    Also you’re sorta sleep-deprived usually, and if that impairs your driving as much as booze you can be sure it impairs your hottness judgment as well. You got to make sure someone is teh sexay for, say, three days straight before you make an investment.

  • When you are acting in someone’s movie, you become *not like the others. Here. In this trailer park.* You can’t move lights or get apple boxes anymore. You just have to stay on your mark and remember your lines and try could you please just try to be quieter between takes kthx? So if there’s another actor in the movie (and as these first year films go it tends to be just two actors) there`ll be fifteen people buzzing around you and you still feel like you’re the last people on earth.

    This may be why actors hook up so much. Though that may also be because actors are incredibly slutty (OMG just kidding! Students of all arts disciplines are equally slutty.)

    It can be a problem.

    In any event, I`m unable to rule out that I just sniffed a fellow actor on set and deeply felt that fishbowl bond and thought he was teh sexay. I can think about things like that on set due to my brain is not cluttered with thoughts about how to be a good actor. Due to I suck.

So eventually I`m going to figure out who wears Obsession for Men (a $50 cologne should already narrow the suspects) or something that smells right like it, and I`m going to be either relieved or incredibly embarrassed.

That is a long story. But I worry about things like this, like when I read that line in The Watchmen that said “Superheroes are finished. These days, it’s all pirates,” and I flashed that *someone* had quoted that line to me very recently, and I had just made a silly cow face like, “that was wacky,” because I didn’t get it! I didn’t get it… yet.

And now I have to ask around in the fall to figure out who put this thought in my brain. I have my suspicions, such as the Dungeon Master of a DIY jello-wrestling RPG I played at the last party I went to before I left school. Because that happened.

Anyway — what stories of evocative and startling smells do you have? Like, I can’t cross a sewer without thinking (fondly) of benjo ditches in Okinawa. Ohhh memories.

What smell brings a context or story flooding back to you?



Draws. Sweats. Eats too much sugar-free candy.

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9 Responses

  1. supremegoddessofall says:

    Chantilly. My grandmother wore Chantilly religiously until the day she died. Her house always smelled of it. When she died, I got her bottle of Chantilly. I still have it, and wear it periodically, and it always makes me think of her.

  2. Tory says:

    There`s something about grandma perfumes. They don`t make `em like they used to.

  3. staggerlee says:

    drakkar noir (before dale jr starting hawking it). there was this hot puerto rican guy in my class at fort gordon… and i don`t know if he was hot because he smelled good, or if he smelled good because he was hot… but yeah. it`s hot.

  4. alala says:

    There`s a particular smell to smokers who drink a lot of beer. Not a bad smell, just a beer-n-tobacco smell. My dad had it, and he died too young, and now occasionally I`ll walk past some guy in a flannel shirt and baseball cap and that smell will hit me like a ton of bricks, with all the memory and grief of missing my dad.

  5. KiraMarie says:

    Vanderbuilt perfume reminds me of my grandma Katie, while any of the older avon perfumes reminds me of my great-grandma . Oh, and Eternity is such a turn on for me. I love it when my boyfriend wears some. Also, Tommy colgne will forever remind me of being in high school. It seemed every guy wore it.

  6. Anonymous says:

    The first girl I was ever really in love (as I knew it at the time) with always wore CK`s Obsession. In the time since then that scent has become one of the most over-worn perfumes in the history of man, but I still turn my head involuntarily every time I catch even the slightest trace of it in the air. I miss her perfume, but there`s one even better than that. When things were at their best between us and we were able to spend some long stretches of time together, we`d go out clubbing and after a looong night come home to end the day. I always showered first to get the smoke off (a particularity that I have even now) and then she`d do the same just before we went to bed. To this day, the smell of a girl beside me who`s fresh out of the shower with no makeup, no perfume, no nothing… it just kills me. Bottle *that*, call it Calvin Klein`s “Clean” and we`ll make a billion.

  7. supremegoddessofall says:

    I mentioned Chantilly, and then my mother gets me a bottle for my birthday. Weirdness.

  8. Tory says:

    Happy birthday!

  9. F.A.Y. says:

    I like the smell of ozone myself. Sensi is also a good smell I like. I like to wear drakkar cologne, but in very small doses.

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