Smell? Hot? Really?
Yes. I will defend you, smell. Because smell gets a bad rap. Smell is sullied as the awkward older brother of Taste. He’s thought of as the one always lingering around at Taste’s parties, all “oh it’s cool guys, I have plans for later on, I’m just gonna down a few coldies here”. And he never brings his own beer, he hulks around and sits in the best spots drinking other peoples’ beer, and his coupla coldies descend into a great clinking mass of empties by the end of the night, and there’s just him in the lounge room by the end, unaware of anyone else’s presence or absence, having lost all cognisance of social nous and toilet training. And you just think “seriously man, you’ve gotta stop chewing the fat of your brother’s meat, and don’t read into that, it’s just a sexless metaphor, yknow?”
Well, all of that is a misconception. While there are bad smells out there, there are also smells that are amazingly special and evocative and filled with emotional significance. I still remember the smell of the hair product we used to tame our sun-bleached wiry frizz on a family trip to Bali in 1996. One whiff of Delva Moisture Serum and it all comes flooding back. The beautiful banana pancakes for breakfast, the rice wine on arrival, and the thousands of underpaid Balinese workers building a new resort downhill of our favourite swimming pool, who we had a really good view of while sitting in the pool eating pancakes and drinking rice wine. One whiff of Delva can remind me of how sunburnt my skin was on that hot Summer day in Ubud as I curiously watched 9-year-old Nyoman load pallet after pallet of mudbrick down a conveyor belt without designated lunch breaks. That was, and remains, a precious memory.
Smell can constantly help you evoke the life experiences that make you the person you are today, in an extremely immediate and effective way. It can also remind you of the time your housemate’s cousin slept on your lounge one night after a lot of beers, and someone had left out a plate of blue cheese, and it was early February in Sydney, and walking into that room as the first sharp rays of Summer sunlight bounced off that sweaty rock of cheese and a snoring drunk man – well that’s a memory that stays with you forever.