08/22/2021 Olfactory Time Travel   Leave a comment

I hear people talking all the time about how a certain song takes them back. I’ve had that experience on many occasions myself and it’s enjoyable and comforting for just an instant. Music can be a trigger to the past for some but I find that my sense of smell works better for me. A certain smell can capture me and move me to a different time and place. It can be so vivid to a specific incident that I can close my eyes and see the exact spot, smell the exact smells, and see the people who were there. It’s an amazing transition and it usually happens when I least expect it.

If I pick up a baseball glove in Walmart, the smell of the leather sends me back in 1955 as I was driving with my father to my first Little League practice. Interestingly enough Elvis Pressley was singing Heartbreak Hotel on the radio at the time.

Over the years I’ve frequently spent time on shooting ranges to stay proficient with my pistol. On certain wet and rainy days coupled with the smell of gunpowder, takes me immediately back to the summer of 1968 and my time in the Korean DMZ for the Army. I still break out in a cold sweat because it seems so damn real.

There’s one other memory I’d like to recall but I do so cautiously. My father was something of a farting professional. He enjoyed nothing better than to take me food shopping with him which was always a bit embarrassing for me. He was a phantom farter who would leave SBD’s in an aisle and then walk to an adjacent aisle to enjoy the reactions. I can’t tell you on how many occasions I was blamed for being the culprit as he hid laughing hilariously nearby. Still after all these years if I smell a fart in any food store I automatically think of my Dad.

How about the smell of Jean Nate. My first real tongue-on-tongue kiss was done to the smell of Jean Nate. It was 1961 and we were at the Friday night dance at St. Ladislaus Church. We kissed briefly in the alley behind the church and believe me it was memorable. Unfortunately for me my mother came to love Jean Nate a year of so later which created a lot of confusion for me. That smell still takes me back to that alley for that incredible kiss but I keep thinking my mother’s sneaking around somewhere and will unexpectedly show up. It’s a little disconcerting and a major distraction to a wonderful memory. By the way Kathy G., it still remains a wonderful kiss.

So for those of you who are moved by music, and those of us who are moved by smell, we’re the lucky ones. I fear there are many people out there who aren’t moved by much of anything. Links to their past are either too painful to relive and they’ve blocked them or they just don’t care at all.

I LOVE OLFACTORY TIME TRAVEL

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