From the Blog

The Oddness Started Early

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From a very early age, I liked to smell things. Beyond what was normal, I think. Before the age of recollection, my parents tell me I wanted to smell everything. When opening gifts on birthdays and holidays, the first thing I would do is smell the new clothes, or smell the books, or smell the toys.

I don’t remember this, of course, but my parents tell me that if I had the good fortune of consuming a candy bar, I’d surreptitiously hide the wrapper in my pocket until nighttime. They’d find later I’d fallen to sleep with the wrapper held under my nose. Do normal kids do stuff like that?

I was the easiest kid to buy stuff for, because you could buy me anything smelly and I’d love it. I remember my parents came back from a trip and they had gotten me a little bottle of perfume. It was heather scented. And holy crap, wearing perfume meant I was an adult. I think they needed to set limits on how much I could wear. Like, one spray a day or something, or until it gave all the adults in the room a headache.

Another small gift was a cedar satchel just like this one from New Hampshire. New Hampshire is where all the cardinals and good smelling trees are.

As a kid, I didn’t know you were supposed to put a satchel like this in your underwear drawer to make your undies smell nice. I didn’t care. Sure as shit I took it to bed with me and fell asleep with it under my nose. I loved the smell of cedar. I still do.

I’m still a “scent oriented person.” I still stick my nose into the spine of a new book, and I still have to smell new clothes as I open gifts. And as an adult, I now have a hard time falling asleep if there are food or cooking smells in the bedroom.

Last night, I drifted to sleep to the lovely scent of an ocean breeze. I woke up at three this morning to the awful scent of a paper mill. I couldn’t hope to get back to sleep. Sometimes the smell of deep fried donuts from the bakery down the street wakes me up. At four in the morning. Is this normal? Would other people just sleep through it? Or do I just have an extra powerful schnozzle?

I found this particular satchel in one of my boxes of clothes, serving its true purpose. I don’t know where I got it from, because I have been nowhere near New Hampshire. But it smells just like childhood.


  1. I can’t tell you how many times my partner has asked me “Did you just SMELL that???!?” Seems perfectly normal to me.

  2. It’s important for me to have things smell ‘right’ I don’t know what ‘right’ is necessarily, but I know when something smells wrong! I will struggle with books if they smell wrong, I will get rid of clothes, previously I have refused to date guys based on scent. It’s important!

  3. Do you mean some people DON’T do this? They’re missing so much. When sitting at a restaurant waiting for the food to come, I inevitably sniff every condiment on the table. (My wife doesn’t understand this, but thankfully, doesn’t judge me for it. Or at least does so silently.) It goes way beyond that, but I’d like to avoid sounding weird. (Not that intentionally breathing in the scent of people on TriMet is weird.)

  4. No, Bill not weird at all. I used to play Guess The Stinker on the streetcar. Not intentionally, though. So yeah, you’re a bit weird.

    Oh, and note to self: Do not buy the chicken pot stickers from Costco. Because while they are an easy lunch and fairly tasty, they make the whole house smell like farts.

  5. Yes. And also: yes. My favorite scents from childhood are PlayDoh and Hello Kitty scented erasers.

    I cooked something in the crock pot overnight, just one time, because HELLO, I COULD NOT sleep.

    And I’m terrible, TERRIBLE when something smells bad. I smell every rotten smell inside and outside the house. My husband calls me a bloodhound. A lovable bloodhound, I’m sure he means.

  6. I am with you on the food scents in the bedroom, or anywhere in the house post dinnertime. It became particularly bad for me a few years ago after I was diagnosed with gastroparesis, where my stomach doesn’t empty at the rate it should after eating. I had to consume soups, protein shakes, and soft food for about nine months, until I could tolerate food better. During that time, I would make dinner for my fam (wished I could’ve had it too), but had my stupid protein shakes, and I felt sickened by food odors almost immediately after dinner. Washing dishes ended up being everyone else’s job. It still affects me, not quite as bad, but I cannot sleep if I smell lingering food scents.

  7. Totally love the smell of cedar too, it’s amazing!

  8. Pine, strawberry shampoo, play-doh, silly putty = childhood. It hit me the other day, we’re getting closer to Pumpkin Spice and Macintosh candles, then Pine scented candles! This makes me VERY excited!

  9. I too am a smell-oholic. I have gotten teased my whole life because of the question “do you smell that?” which no-one ever seemed able to answer yes too. but how great is it that we can pick out a lovely odor from the storm of odors around us? That might be why fall is my fave season, it is so rich and wonderful smelling (grammer?) fires; rich, wet earth; spices; pumpkins; the smell of asphalt after that first rain. love it!!

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