Last night, I was in the kitchen opening a bottle of wine. Wine goes well with fruit, namely grapes. I opened a container of grapes to put out for Toby and I to munch on as well. When that happen-when the lid popped open-I was placed in front of Halloween. Candy and plastic wrap, pillow cases filled with sweetness which came from the inside of another person’s house.The way those costumes smell! The ones bought at CVS or Hills. Right when you open the wrap, smells came wafting out like those visible smell lines seen above cartoon characters on Saturdays. Rubber made just for me.

(I’m like that bull named Marmaduke, something like that. He too was toon. He lived before movies, screen images from my youth. I think he enjoyed the smell of flowers. So much so, he was bored with chasing red things. He just wanted to smell stuff all day long. Does any one remember this bull? I think that was a real memory. I’m getting lost at the boundary of imagination and memory these days).

So let me just begin. There is a smell for loneliness: it’s tucked between an unlit, half-smoked cigarette and bleach-bathed flooring. I have a smell for holiday, it’s rising yeast, cinnamon, cedar chips, and mashed potatoes. College smells like rubber cement, burning wood, and pottery kilns. There’s a smell for dad: sawed wood and soil. Mom: Ponds cold cream, Catholic incense, and Holiday. (Yes, sometimes they are divisible, these smells). Spring drifts along freshly mowed grass as well as firefly poop and moist mulch. Moving smells like wet concrete, red clay, and plastic trapper-keepers. Sadness smells like salt and carpet fibers. Confusion is mass-marketed perfume, sitting on the necks of commuters jarred within a crowded city bus driving through mid-winter, the human equivalent of being confronted by too much dog ass. Overwhelming smells like metal and confusion. The smell of regret is sour breath.
I wish to bottle up my life’s smells and sell them at a five and dime for a buck. We could trade them, you and me. I could then make better sense of what you might say. We might not fight as much, you and me. You might then know the smell of me. I might know the smell of you. We might discover A Divisible We.


  1. Sawed wood, soil, and FISH! You forgot the fish.


  2. ferdinand, I believe, was the name of the bull.

    I had a similar smell-reaction recently. there’s a newly-renovated office space downstairs from the g’town yoga studio I’ve started going to recently.

    the first time I walked into the building, I was immediately transported back to a time when my parents renovated the house we were living in. I don’t think it was any one, particular smell, but it worked all the same.

    brought back some fond feelings/memories.


  3. Yay! CALVO!! yes! FERDINAND!

    Man, I missed him.


  4. Gorgeous, gorgeous piece of writing! You had me at Halloween. :)

    I love that Ferdinand fella.


  5. Where you been all my life?

    I wish they showed more of Ferdinand now instead of advertisements.


  6. when i walk into the Italian deli in my neighborhood, i’m instantly 6 years old in my gramma’s kitchen – sausage, cheese and basil. and a little Fresca thrown in, because that was the only kind of soda she liked!



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