Strange Confessions: Scents and Scents-ability

Strange Confessions: The memory triggers in my brain are strongest when working in union with my sense of smell, and lately I’ve found some of my favorite bouquets.

One summer, when I was younger, we went swimming regularly at a friend’s of a friend’s  of my parents. All of us kids swam all day long, sliding and jumping the day through. It was always a hot summer in Salt Lake City and when swimming was done it was always nice to find a cool place to rest. This person’s house, who I long forgot, was dark and cool, and had one of the first VCRs I ever seen as well as cable television. She let us take a shower before we settled down in the dark basement to watch tv and videos all night. In her shower was a bottle of Aussie shampoo. Aussie was a new and expensive product, so I felt fancy using it in my hair. As we hung out later eating junk food and watching tv, I could still smell that shampoo in my hair. This smell built into my brain the memory of friendship, luxury, comfort and savory snacks. Aussie changed the formula of it’s main product, and I lost the ability to get those memories back from the occasions I could convince my mom to buy it.

Once in a while someone would walk by me and I would smell this memory trigger. I asked people what they put in their hair, sometimes even strangers, and incredibly no one knew. How could people forget what they put in their hair? Some of them remembered it was an Aussie product, but most were oblivious. Really? I thought maybe they stockpiled the old shampoo and kept it secret from those who may want to take it from them. I would think, maybe I’m not smelling it right, and I’d go to the store and open up every Aussie product, drinking in it’s now flowery essence. None of them were the correct smell. Two weeks ago, I got a haircut at a local superstore, and thought of this smell for some reason. I went to the aisle and sniffed the familiar open purple bottles. I decided to try the scent of the hairspray, and wonder of wonders, it was the stinkin’ memory smell; the lovely smell that brought me back to cool, comfortable childhood. I am not a regular user of hairspray and I do not want to overuse the stuff, making the memory lose it’s power, so it is below the sink, hidden until I need a boost of childhood energy.

Last week we were at a friend’s house for a bit of holiday celebration when I discovered a memory smell I forgot. We went to the Nature’s Pantry for a bit of shopping for items we can’t get in West Plains. Our friends bought a salt substitute I’ve seen around once in a while, and she said it was the best stuff to put on popcorn. When we got back to their house and she pulled out her old bottle of the stuff. I opened it up, and I was transported to the trailer of my Papa by the smell. Spending my young weekends at my grandparents house, my Nana and Papa, was the highlight of my youth. Cousins and food and fun is something I thought would last forever. I looked forward to having kids and spending time at their grandparents house running in, out, through and all around the home and neighborhood, but alas, families change. My Papa would have the trailer he built himself sitting in the yard and us kids would sometimes play in it. It smelled of some spice that I never knew; until last week. It was Spike, a now natural salt substitute sold in health food stores. It’s funny how something that has been around for a long time becomes popular with the health food nuts, then they can sell it at what they want. The Spike company is all like, “Those health food crazies will pay anything that has a label marked ‘natural.'” So today I was at the health food store and paid $3.29 for a bottle of terrific memories. Can you put a price on a bottle full of memories? For me, it doesn’t matter. I’ll pay whatever you want if it makes me remember my carefree childhood. I love my Papa and miss him since he died about ten years ago, and this spice will be forever in my cabinet.


Posted on January 7, 2014, in Strange Confessions and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Hey Mark, glad to hear you have some Spike in your pantry now. And, by the way, I am not a robot…most days.

  2. I’m glad we had a Spike crisis so we could facilitate happy memories! Just let the health food crazies know when you need a refill. And RoboDavid is the one obsessed with it on his popcorn, not me. I don’t mind it, but I’m a salt and butter popcorn purist.

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