Two Smells / 25 February 2002

This deodorant is meant to smell like the greasy secretion produced in the glandular sac beneath the skin of the abdomen of a deer or otter or civet. I won’t buy this particular brand anymore because then the scent will lose its impact, diluted by contemporary sense-memories. But sometimes I’ll pick it up at the grocery store, although it’s rarely there anymore, give it a good whiff, and [snapping fingers] I’m in the wooden communal showers in Yosemite, Calif. and there’s a lightning storm outside (thunderless and rare) and silt from the Tuolomne is washing down the drain and we just got in trouble for opening ourselves up for electrocution out in the black river. It’s a safe sort of dangerousness. It’s a small step outside. It’s new and semi-adult. Other shoppers reach around me, shuffling their feet noisily to let me know they’re there but I’m motionless, inhaling, the arm holding the bright red lid dangling at my side, happier there than here.

This shampoo is much less specific. I didn’t even notice until ten or fifteen minutes after I’d gotten out of the shower, sitting at this desk: I keep being reminded of something, not sure what the memory was, not sure what was prompting it until I remembered I’d just used this shampoo that I hadn’t used in years. But I can’t pinpoint it, not even the location, which often comes first — Mountain View, Calif.; Littleton, Colo.; Chestnut Hill, Penna. This is garden-variety nostalgia, I guess, unfettered by a certain emotion or place or event, the past inside the present as the song (“Music is Math”) that happens to be playing right now just said.

Previously / Self-Portrait w/Milk
Next / Hops

Joshua Green Allen

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