Something in the air
There are people who actually love the smell of concrete in all its forms. Have we completely lost the plot?
WE are a jaded lot. While some people live with the threat of a bomb falling on their house at any moment, some of us are more concerned about the scent we put on every morning.
And I’m not talking about any old scent. It would appear that some folks are no longer content with smelling of jasmine, vanilla, musk or chocolate cake – they want something edgier.
They want to step out smelling of the feeling they had when they lost their first tooth, or the feeling of skateboarding on a summer day, or concrete.
Have we completely lost the plot? I don’t want to spray on a scent every morning that reminds me of that first stubborn milk tooth that wobbled for ages before deciding to part company with me.
Nor do I want to remember those moments when I forgot about my loose tooth and attempted to bite into a piece of unyielding toffee or a hard biscuit. I might as well spray on a scent called Pain, Blood or Scream!
Still, I’m sure such names might appeal to the masochists among us.
My feelings towards the other “alternative scents” mentioned are just as enthusiastic.
For example, I’ve never been on a skateboard before so I’m unlikely to be attracted to the smell of rubber on tar. And don’t get me started on the smell of concrete.
There’s something about the smell of concrete, especially wet concrete, that really gets up my nose. It makes my stomach churn and I have to pinch my nostrils together to prevent myself from throwing up.
A quick Internet search has just shown me that there are countless people out there who love the smell of concrete in all its forms – from cement powder, to wet cement going around in a mixer, to dry expanses of concrete, to pavements after a shower of rain.
Another smell that bothers me just as much is the odour that emanates from a wet dog.
And I don’t mean a dog that’s been freshly shampooed with a pleasing range of canine grooming products.
I’m talking about a mangy street dog that has been caught in the rain and is just beginning to dry. You’ve probably seen such a dog before.
The poor thing usually has sore spots on its emaciated body where hair refuses to grow, doleful eyes and a breath so fetid that it will make your eyes water if you catch so much as the tiniest whiff of it.
But the smell coming from such a mangy dog’s body can eclipse all the bad breaths in the world exhaled onto your face simultaneously.
If you reach out and touch the wretched animal in an attempt to comfort it, the smell that is transferred onto your hand will linger,
linger… and linger, and
The only other thing worse than the smell of a wet mangy dog (and I do love dogs) is the smell of a wet mangy dog standing on wet concrete.
Not only has concrete inspired its own scent, it has also been immortalised in a few songs and poems, such is the pull of its odour.
But I can’t say I’ve come across a verse dedicated to a wet smelly dog. But that’s not to say that there isn’t someone out there who loves to sniff a wet smelly dog.
You might scoff at the idea, but it seems that some people also like the smell of skunks. There are even websites and Facebook pages dedicated to these strong-odoured animals.
And no, it’s not the animal itself but just its scent that these aficionados love so much.
It seems that our like or dislike of certain smells is not hardwired, which means we are not born with a predisposition to any sort of smell.
Otherwise, we’d all hate the smell of cow dung and love the smell of freshly baked bread.
I’ve discovered that we form opinions about the various scents that we are exposed to by association and/or by mimicking our parents.
For example, I love the smell of petrol and oil and just about any other smell to be found in a garage.
As a teenager, I once spent a summer working in a petrol station, where I met some of the most amazing people travelling around Scotland.
The weather was glorious that year and the couple who owned
the station were so considerate, and the other staff so friendly that it is etched in my memory as a fabulous experience.
I could happily smear oil on my neck and dab petrol on the inside of my wrists but I suspect I would get some strange looks.
I also love the smell of lit matches and pipe tobacco – but I suspect that all comes from my grandfather who was a pipe smoker.
My son on the other hand dislikes most perfumes. I think this
dates back to when he was a little boy. I would only wear perfume when I was going out without my children, and he remembers one perfume from that time as smelling of cockroach – the one insect that scares him. The smell of perfume possibly triggers feelings of abandonment.
What do your preferences say about you?
An employee conducts an ‘odour test’ at a laboratory in Nanjing, China. Some people are no longer content with pleasant scents such as jasmine and vanilla; they want something edgier.