Something’s rotten in the den, Mark!

I’m fascinated by odors.  Wow!  Is that a strange thing to admit or what?  I hope you won’t get the wrong idea and think that I go around sniffing the air all the time.  I do have some odd habits, but the Gollum act is not included in the panoply of weird symptoms you will observe in me.  It’s just that I seem to notice aromas even more now than I used to.  Perhaps it’s because odors have such an evocative effect on the brain.

I smell bacon and eggs, and I’m back in the breakfast nook at Grandma’s, waiting for an early morning meal after a Friday night spent at her house.  I catch a whiff of Pine Sol and I can still see the bathrooms at Crockett Elementary School where long ago, I spent 6 long years (in the school, not the bathrooms).  I know, that number of years just speeds by for us as adults, but honestly, don’t you remember waiting for the final bell at 3:30 every day?  The last five minutes were as interminable as any hour that came before in the day.

One of the most vivid odors I smell on a regular basis is that of burning bone.  I frequently have to cut bone pieces for guitar parts, such as bridge saddles and fingerboard nuts.  As the Dremel cutting wheel spins along the surface, the odor emanates in billows from the material, filling the atmosphere in the music store.  Along with it’s completely obnoxious stench, which is suffocating in its nature, I have to suffer with the image of sitting in the dentist’s chair while he drills in preparation for a filling.  You folks who’ve had cavities, you know what I’m talking about.  It’s all peppermint and flavored rinses until, BOOM!, that stench fills your mouth, throat, and nasal passages and you start to think that maybe a pureed diet wouldn’t be so bad after all.  My better half has requested that the bone cutting take place after business hours, when I’m working by myself.  Unfortunately, in my situation, although “misery loves company”, apparently that company doesn’t have much of an urge to consort with misery.

I’ll leave some of the other odors to your imagination, just to be sure that we don’t get a PG rating for this missive.  Suffice it to say that I don’t work in a sterile atmosphere.  Evidently, varying opinions exist regarding the satisfactory standard for cleanliness in public, so the levels of pungency also vary greatly from time to time.  Sometimes, I find it difficult to even concentrate on the task at hand, much less to remember that all of God’s creatures deserve respect, but that’s what has to be accomplished.  Odd, isn’t it, when you really consider the idea?  I’m fairly certain that we assault God’s nostrils with our stench continuously, yet He tolerates the smell and even calls us His sons and daughters and holds us close.  So, I work on, careful to show respect and honor, even as I recoil from the emissions!  If He can stand it for all time, I figure I can deal with it for a few minutes.

As I consider all these aromas, while there are some that I think I could do without, I’m struck by how amazing is the world we’ve been given to live in.  Some odors warn us of danger, like solvents, or natural gas, and burning food (never happens at my house!).  Others lure us into situations we should avoid.  No I’m not thinking about perfumes and scented candles (although that could be problematic, too).  I’m thinking about the delightful aroma of baking cookies, a perfectly cooked roast beef, or any number of foods that, while quite pleasant to experience, leave their manifestation for years of discomfort to come.  What an amazing assortment of signals and informative details are brought to mind by the simplest of smells wafted gently (or not so gently) to our noses everyday.  And, what a drab and dangerous world this would be without this very simple gift.

I’m still fascinated by odors…

But for tonight, I’m headed home and going to bed very soon.  I think I’ll be careful to take my shoes off in the bathroom…

“Best way to get rid of kitchen odors?  Eat out!
(Phyllis Diller)

One thought on “Something’s rotten in the den, Mark!

  1. You brought tears to my eyes with this one. I too love the vivid memories that are brought back to mind through aromas. I think one of the reasons I love breakfast (for supper) so much is the memories of Grandma’s house. Perhaps it is because we loved her so much. On the other hand certain odors bring back unwanted memories of the time I spent in the hospital. To this day I can not stay long in a hospital before I rush to the exit. One day maybe this will fade.
    Aromas vs Odors.

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