The Smells

Once again, we’re faced with some lies being spread. This time, it’s being claimed that Bernie Sanders said that he thinks black people smell.

First, WTF is off with our society that we carry the whole smell thing so far? We’re so aghast at gas from a fart, appalled by BO, etc.

Bad smells coming from somebody can be signs of things gone wrong, like emotional problems, economic strife, and health issues. Besides, as others have noted, everybody farts; everyone has odors. Eating black beans (which I love, damn it) (and pinto beans) will guarantee that I’ll fart. So will grapes (which I also love).

One lowpoint in my military career came about because of another’s body odor. A large white man working in another section and suffered from excessive sweating, which carried a pungent odor.

He came to me one day asking for advice, explaining his problem and breaking down in tears as he did. He’d been dealing with this, and with the taunting and bullying and looks that came with it, since he was a child. While talking with him about the multiple possible causes, I referred him to medical assistance. He’d already been there, of course.

The young officer who supervised him visited me a few weeks later, asking about the same problem. I pointed out at that time that the issue wasn’t really that the man had a sweating and odor problem, but that we had a problem dealing with it. I wasn’t forceful enough, though, looking back.

(Of course, our whole thing about smell is probably a defense mechanism carried to an extreme; smelling foulness off of another probably harkens back to diseases and are encoded in us.) (That’s just my speculation.)

Second, no one group smells more or less than another.

I’ve been with a number of races. None seems to smell better or worse than another to me. Nor can I declare that one sex or one political group or religion smells better or worse than another, as a group. It’s an individual thing. I, a white man who sweats often (and farts after eating certain foods) and walks several miles a day, can be the odor in the room, despite regular showers, clean clothes (well, they were clean when I put them on),  decent health, and deodorant. Deal with it.

Third, Bernie Sanders never said that he thought black people smell. The race card is being played, once again, and it’s a lie, once again.

 

Hot Coffee

He said, “Coffee.” Then he looked aside. “It’s getting hot out there.”

“Yes.” She smiled. “I’m surprised that you want hot coffee on a day like this.”

“I like the smell of hot coffee.” He grinned. “It helps me focus.”

Nodding, she slid a mug of steaming coffee across the counter. “I know what you mean.”

Food Choices

My friend nan referred me to Mary Roach’s book, Gulp, when I wrote about how my urine tastes, and I’m in her debt. After working down through my book piles, I started reading it on Saturday. It’s one of those books that forces me to set it down to think and conduct research. I’m still reading Gulp, but it’s a fascinating read. Ostensibly about the alimentary canal, it includes much about animals and humans’ eating habits, and some of the psychology behind our food choices.

One of the early facts that she stated is that most people only eat about forty flavors. When I shared that with my wife, she asked, “Is cheese one flavor?”

Good question, right? Is an IPA the same as a porter, stout, and lager? Why, no. I drink each for the different flavors they share with me. My choices also depend on what I’m doing and eating. So, do I put down beer as one flavor choice, delineate between the different beverages, or go more deeply into what makes it all up?

These are important distinctions because my wife and I immediately set out attempting to catalog our flavors. We quickly became trapped in a ball of mud about what parts of what flavors we like. We like dark chocolate but I don’t like it overly bitter, like past seventy-two percent. She likes it a little sweeter. Is dark chocolate a flavor, or is it chocolate with sugar, with whatever else is in there?

Those of you who eat gluten-free foods probably understand what I mean, along with the folks that eat sugar-free and fat-free offerings. They taste different. They’re a different experience in my mouth and on my tongue. Some of that may be psychological. In taste tests done with white and red wine, being able to see the color makes a difference in how the flavor is interpreted and described. Likewise, tests have shown that frequently, most of the differences observed between ten dollar bottle of wine and more expensive ones are often about perceptions of quality and expense; the more that something costs, the better it’s supposed to be, right?

It’s a knotty question. The whole thing about pet food was pretty mind-blowing. According to Mary’s research and writing, most cat food tastes about the same to the animals, regardless of what the flavor is supposed to be. To which I respond, say whaaat? My cats seem to show definite preferences, preferring to eat fishy stuff — which smells fishy to me — over the chicken, and chicken over beef. None of them are impressed with “Supper Super”. Gulp claims that these preferences are mostly about my perceptions, and not the animals.

It could be that I’m reading the whole thing wrong, or mis-interpreting the data. It does explain the waffle and fried chicken cat treats that have arrived. It’s not that the animals like waffles and chicken, but we, their owners, think that they’ll enjoy them.

The book fascinates me, too, because of the connections between tasting food and smell, and our brains’ acceptance about what is not good for us. I’m often smelling things and trying to analyze what I’m smelling, a process that I call, “What the hell is that smell?” My wife does the same. This leads to a game at our household that goes like this:

Her: “Do you smell that?”

Me: “You need to tell me what you mean. I smell many things.”

“That smell.”

“Again…”

“It smells like cat piss.”

“No, I don’t smell that.”

Sniffing the air, furniture, and carpet, we start looking around the area to see if it looks like a cat has pissed where they shouldn’t.

Me: “Maybe it’s the litter box.”

“It smells too strong. It smells like it’s right beside me.”

“Maybe a cat peed on your clothes. Are they wet?”

“I think I’m going to go change.”

Me: “I don’t smell cat piss, but I do smell someone’s marijuana crop. Or maybe it’s a skunk. Do you smell a skunk?”

The game goes on forever, it seems like.

I’ll keep reading Gulp. If more is explained, than I’ll come back and read another post.

That’s just the way it goes.

 

 

The Question

A man passed, and he thought with horror, that guy smells like he shit his pants.

She passed in a green skirt and bright, flowery sweater. The man grimaced as acrid body odor assaulted his nose, and then another went by — he didn’t see her — in the other direction, filling the air with stale cigarette smoke that could’ve been Pall Malls.

An anonymous person passed in a haze of sour milk. Another clumped past with big, heavy red boots and large, swinging red purse, leaving moth balls’ ammonia scents wafting behind her. Her smell battled a urine fragrance as a sagging-faced gray man passed, then the skunk of marijuana from a lithe and young dark-haired man drifted through in the opposite direction.

Then he trudged by with a dirty hair smell from his hooded green coat.

Standing to leave, the man wondered, what do people smell when I go by?

 

The Look

If you have a cat, does it ever come up to you and give you a casual sniff, and then suddenly becomes alert, avidly and intently sniffing you for a minute before drawing back and giving you a look that asks, “What have you been doing?”

Yeah, disconcerting, innit?

Day #101

I like the sun

I like the rain

I like how the day

smells this way

I like the breeze

that’s sometimes a wind

I like the scents

that tease and spin

I like the hours passing me by

and the time spent

with no one asking me why

 

 

The Sniff Test

Have you ever been about to eat something when your cat comes up to smell it, so you let them sniff it, and they draw back with a dismayed look, and then seem to look disappointed that you’re still going to eat this food that smells bad to them?

No? Is it just me, then?

Never Stale

Hit the book stores as part of our springly, puddly Thursday urban hike. We were in search of my wife’s book club’s March selection (Language Arts). The rich smell of fresh books gobsmacked me after entering the Book Exchange. Pausing, I inhaled, savoring the odor. “I love the smell of new books,” I told the cashier.

A smile lit her face. “Me, too. It’s one of my favorite smells.”

I agreed. “But…what is best? New books? Roasting or brewing coffee? Baking smells? Popcorn.”

She thought a moment. “Books, I think.”

“Why?”

“The smell of books never go stale.”

Ah, sweet.

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