A few years ago before a long trip overseas, my wife asked me give her a shirt that I previously wore so she could take it with her. She wanted to sleep with it while we were apart. At the heart of her request is what science and myriad studies have shown, there’s a link between scent and emotion. In this instance, my scent would enhance my wife’s mood. I experienced this very same thing as a child when my dad came home and hung his work shirt on the doorknob. As I ran past it, I could smell the powder he wore. If you put a blind fold over my eyes now and put a scent strip with that smell to my nose, I’d instantly think of him and that French blue shirt hanging in the hallway.
Today, as part of a special series of group posts with my cohorts, Eyeliner on a Cat, Olfactoria’s Travels, Persolaise, and Candy Perfume Boy, we’re talking about mood enhancing perfumes. I’ve gone about this a bit differently than the others but here are a few of my fragrant moments that bring me comfort.
A few days ago, I inherited the safety razor I watched my dad shave with as I was growing up. If you’re following me on Instagram, you know safety razors are my latest obsession. When I look at the one my dad just gave me, thoughts of him prepping to shave in his Hanes V-neck t-shirt and the scent of Noxzema and Obsession, which filled the bathroom, come rushing to mind. Those scents will forever hold a special place in my heart. It’s one of the reasons why I love the scents Dear John (formally by B Never now by Lush) and Sartorial by Penhaligon’s. The masculine appeal of both scents remind me of my dad and some of the other men in my family and wearing them brings me instant comfort.
Another scent that I would characterize as traditional is Penhaligon’s LP No. 9 and it brings me both comfort and sadness as it reminds me of my beloved brother Lamont, who is no longer with us. I gave him that fragrance years ago and although he owned others, he never got rid of it. On the day he passed away, I walked into his room and as the magnitude of my new reality was setting in, it was the first thing I gravitated to. I now have it in my possession and will forever. I wear it from time to time and sometimes I just smell the nozzle and think of him.
If there’s one thing I really enjoy, it’s a good cigar. It truly is a relaxing experience that’s enhanced by aroma and taste. The scent of tobacco, hints of coffee and chocolate sprinkled with some pepper and bourbon and we’ve got ourselves a good smoke. That could also read as a cologne, which brings to mind one of my favorite tobacco based scents, Thierry Mugler’s A Men Pure Havane. It’s centered around the art of making fine Cuban Cigars and it’s good. This cigar talk is prompting my desire for a good smoke. Catch me on Foursquare and see where I check-in tonight.
Marcel Proust is a critically acclaimed French novelist. In his book, In Remembrance of Things Past, Proust recalls involuntary memories brought on by smell, taste and sound. In one particular episode, Proust recalls eating a madeleine cake and drinking tea. The scent of the cake ushers in a flood of memories from his childhood. That must be the reason why my wife’s homemade chocolate chip cookies are one of my favorite treats. I’m a big kid when those bad boys are in the oven. The scent of the sugar, butter and chocolate forces me to pace around the house asking, “Are they done yet.”
This was a light-hearted look at how my mood is enhanced by scent. My brother always told me I smell everything. He was right and my life is better for it. Be sure to check out Eyeliner on a Cat, Olfactoria’s Travels, Persolaise, and Candy Perfume Boy to see what scents enhance their mood.
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I’m very sorry about your brother, but I’m glad you have a specific scent to remember him by.
Beautiful list, Barney!
Birgit, thank you. That was a very emotional time for me and LP No. 9 came out of no where and offered me a warm hug. In my reflection of that moment, I realized how important scent is in my life and I’m happy I’m aware of it.
Great piece! So eloquently said.
Thanks Robert. I appreciate your support.
I’m a fan of safety razors and traditional scents. The two Penhaligon’s you mention, along with Obsession, are fragrances that I enjoy a lot, as well.
I’m obsessed with safety razors James. And now that I have my dad’s, I’m like a kid in a candy factory. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.
You’re welcome 🙂 I wish I had a safety razor from one of my grandfathers. But I was too young when they passed.
I hearya…I wish I had my grandfather around to ask him what he shaved with.
Great post Barney. I like the idea of comfort scents. Fragrance and memory are so closely tied together.
Every now and then I get turned around because I thought I smelled something that triggered a memory. That connection is so strong. What a beautiful thing scent is.
Such a touching piece.
Thank you for sharing.
For me almost every scent has something of ‘a madeleine moment’ about it as even if it is not connected directly with someone, somewhere or sometime it will almost certainly smell like something that does.
The Perfumed Dandy
Perfumed Dandy, I’m glad you enjoyed the piece. I took it a bit different than the others and I wasn’t sure how readers would take it. It’s personal and what flowed. Personal fragrant moments.
I loved this post, Barney! I felt like it was a beautiful little window into your life and what’s important to you. I never knew my dad and am an only child, but I have plenty of wonderful memories of the fragrances my mom brought into my life from childhood onward, from Jean Nate to YSL Paris.
Thanks Carrie. I like that phrase, “beautiful little window into your life and what’s important to you.” Family is hellaa important to me and so many of my scent memories take me back to tender moments with my crew. I’m glad you liked it. I wasn’t sure how the group would take it since I took it from a different angle. Thanks for the positive feedback.
A very touching post, Barney. I never cease to be amazed by how many memories we link to different smells… and by how unimportant most people would proclaim the sense of smell to be.
We are stimulated everyday by the things we see and hear that most people don’t realize how many decisions them make based on their sense of smell. It’s quite fascinating. I’m glad you liked it D.