November 19, 2005

You Don't Smell Like Daddy

My niece fell asleep in my lap. For a short while I let her use me as a substitute for her mattress and then it became necessary to move her to her bed.

I carefully picked her up and moved her to her bed. I must have jostled her just a little because she woke up long enough to mutter in my ear "you don't smell like daddy."

It made me smile because for a moment I realized that I had the perfect opportunity to tell my brother-in-law that his daughter thinks he stinks. I was all set to hand him some deodorant and a towel and then I thought better of it.

In truth it was because my father happened to be close by and I realized that I could smell his cologne and it occurred to me that if I close my eyes for a moment I can smell him just as I can smell my grandparents and my mother.

Smell is an amazing sense. I am forever amazed by how a scent can trigger so many memories. I wonder what my children think I smell like.

11 comments:

Ezzie said...

I can smell my mom (or wife) a mile away - and I have a terrible sense of smell. Can't think of my dad's though. Interesting... great post, Jack.

Sweettooth120 said...

Jack, absolutely, both smell and music play an incredible role in triggering memories for me. In psychology there are terms for the different types of sensory memories: iconic memory for visual stimuli, echoic memory for aural stimuli and haptic memory for touch.

jg said...

Months ago, the father of the CEO of the firm where I work walked by and I thought "Daddy?" I had this flash of memory of my dad polishing his shoes before church on Sunday morning. Turned out that the CEO's dad had just used the same aftershave as my dad!

A Frum Idealist said...

It's amazing. this thought just occured to me on friday. my father passed away a little over a year ago. I was in his car on Friday and I could still smell him.

Jack's Shack said...

Ezzie,

Thanks for coming by.

J,

I should have included music as part of this post.

JG,

I have had similar experiences. Years ago I remember being separated from my parents in a grocery store when I suddenly smelled my father. I turned around expecting to be scolded for walking away and saw that it was not my father but some other man who smelled like him standing there.

AFI,

I have heard stories about people who refuse to wash the clothes of loved ones because they can still smell their scent on their clothing.

treppenwitz said...

Jack... I didn't have a chance to leave a comment the first time I read this, but now that I've had a second chance I have to tell you that it is (IMHO) the most beautiful thing you've written here. Thanks.

KRISTIN said...

After my husband's death I didn't wash one of his shirts nor didn't I throw it away. I put it in a plastic bag instead and the smell of his lasted for many years :)

chosha said...

It's thoguht that we once had a much stronger sense of smell, back when our species needed one. I wonder if that means that we also had much sharper memories?

Jack's Shack said...

Trep,

Thanks, I appreciate that.

Kit,

That makes sense to me.

Chosha,

Good question. I don't have an answer for that one.

MC Aryeh said...

What do you think your kids would answer?

Jack's Shack said...

I am really not sure.