Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Nose Knows

Two posts in one day! Aren't you lucky?

This is a topic that has already been touched on by Librarian Lyssa in her excellent blog but it's one near and dear to my heart (nose) so I'll say my piece too.

I never really thought about it before but after almost 40 years on the planet I just have to wonder if not everyone smells things to the degree that I do. As a consequence, I have a couple of things to say:

1. For the love of all that is holy, please, please, please do not use patchouli. Anywhere. Ever. It smells like dead things in an attic. Dead things filled with hate. Patchouli is like a Stephen King book for my nose. I have a 45 minute train ride to work in the morning and I like to listen to my iPod, close my eyes, and doze. Thanks to the patchouli wearer on this morning's ride every time I closed my eyes I imagined a mummy was shambling down the aisle to get me. If someone who likes patchouli can explain to me what it smells like to them, I would love to know.

2. I work at a college. In addition to buildings and grass we have some trees. Thanks to all the construction that has happened on campus some trees have been moved or removed altogether. One tree in particular, however, has survived all the changes. What is notable about this tree is that every fall it grows balls and suddenly starts emitting this...odor. Imagine feet made out of cheese left in a hot car on a summer day. Then someone gets in the car, is so grossed out by the smell that they vomit in the car, and then they leave the car in the sun for a while longer. Thanks to Google, I'm pretty sure that the tree is a ginko. Here's my beef: who on earth chose to plant this tree in the middle of an urban college campus? This one isn't just me - watching the transformation take place on students' faces as the enter the Stink Zone is priceless. Anyway, next time I'm interviewing for a job and they ask me if I have any questions I think I'll ask them if there are any ginko trees nearby.

3. I think by the time people are old enough to go to college they should also understand the importance of washing their hair. College boys, I am talking to you. Unwashed hair is unsightly (YES, the rest of the world can tell even if you can't) and smelly. These folks have access to showers, I know it. It makes no sense to me that someone would sabotage their prime hooking-up years like this.

OK, I'm done. At ease.


  1. Thank you, Maia. Both for the awesome shout-out and for your fine description of that stank-ass hippie oil that needs to be banned.

  2. Catholic U has a ginkgo tree as well, and, yes, it's a female tree, so it stinks, too. Gingkos are interesting: they're considered living fossils, and the trees are either male or female. Regrettably, the female ones are the smelly ones; I'm guessing people plant it not knowing whether it'll be a male or female, and hope for the best. They're gorgeous in fall -- a lovely bright golden yellow -- but sadly if it's a female it's hard to enjoy the view, since you're bent over double retching from the stench.
    There is a street near Howard U. in DC that is lined with them -- I can't imagine what that would smell like -- 20-30 trees in one block -- if many of them are females.
    As for the whole hair thing, I blame Pearl Jam & Nirvana. The whole grunge thing is like a snowball, or greaseball as it were, that was pushed off the mountain top and now it's going pell mell toward flammability. Seriously, can we refine the oil sludge from the average male undergraduate's head?? Seems to me we could cut Saudi Arabia loose with that policy. Or Texas.

  3. Kevin, thanks for the ginko information. I'm happy to say the ginko near my offcie is finally _almost_ stink-free and can go back to being a a pretty tree instead of my sworn enemy.

    Lyssa, I am still waiting for a patchouli lover to explain to me what it is they smell. I have to believe that it's different than what we're smelling.