Thursday, November 4, 2010
The Power of Scent
Most of us have been taught to use all five senses when writing. Let’s face it, everyone uses hearing and seeing—they’re so powerful. Sensual writers don’t miss out on a chance to use touch or taste, but the sense of smell gets overlooked. It is regulated for sniffing perfume, sweat and the coppery odor of blood. What a shame because it can be so amazing. Let me give you an example from my own life.
At a school raffle, I won a very expensive bag of coffee beans. After I won someone placed it on my desk. Teachers and students gathered around sniffing appreciatively mentioned how they wish they won it. Since the coffee was still in the whole bean form, no one was getting any until I had it ground. It wasn’t a priority since a cold had me doing my zombie imitation.
Wiping my nose, I shuffled into my favorite grocery to grind the beans. My head cold was so bad I could barely smell anything, but I could smell the rich exotic aroma of the Sumatran beans. I stocked up on cough drops and cold medicine before heading to the you-checkout lane. An employee appeared out of nowhere to help me use the self service checkout lane. When was the last time someone wanted to help you at the self service lane?
My helper inhaled deeply several times and I do not think he was appreciating the odor of Sucrets that stuck to me like stale cigarette smoke. It was the coffee.
Two men standing against the customer service counter suddenly straightened and headed my way. They struck up a conversation that centered on my coffee. Here, I thought men didn’t have very good noses. I know it wasn’t me with my red nose and blood shot eyes that pulled on them like a magnet. The lingering, the aimless questions lasted way too long. Did they think I was going to brew a pot to share? Invite them home for an impromptu coffee break? Home exerted its own powerful pull on me.
Ready for bed and the blessed oblivion of sleep, I exited the grocery door only to be met by my fantasy man. Six feet of lean male with wavy hair and wire rimmed glasses. Best of all, his eyes lit up when he saw me. He smiled and called out a greeting. I knew it was the coffee. Who knew? When I’m feeling better I may get the coffee out of the freezer and hang out in front of Krogers. Who knows what might happen, I might start an actual riot among the coffee set.
Tell me your scent stories.