Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Olfactory Orgasm.

"Did you smell his hat?"

My best friend, and old college house mate, Valerie, had -- indeed still has -- this theory: men are attracted to vanilla. I was skeptical at first, and still am a bit. The men I know? They think gas stations smell good. Gas stations and tire rubber and pot roasts. But Val had read an article...a scientific article...about what smells attract men. Vanilla topped the list. I'm not a huge vanilla fan myself. It always smells too girlie, too sweet. Ah! I guess maybe that is the point, eh? It smells like a woman.

I don't smell like vanilla; now where does that leave me?

But, she went on and on about it, about this vanilla theory. She seriously believed. And over the years, she has proven to be right about these sorts of things.

Back to the hat smelling...

I walked into her room one day, and she was sitting at her desk upon a blue swivel chair, smelling a baseball hat. In a completely platonic sense, I love this woman (No, I am not a lesbian, contrary to sometimes popular belief. However I do admit, later that school year, Val and I did hold hands and "play the part" to discourage a Strange Male stalking us on the streets of San Francisco...seconds away from resorting to kissing -- come on, dude, we aren't interested in men, can't you see? -- we realized that in San Francisco this kind of kinkiness would probably only encourage him. The foray abandoned, we both remain very interested in men. Only men.), and at that point, I was beginning to get used to walking in on Val doing strange things. But, this was the strangest yet. Neither one of us was, nor is, especially "girlie." We don't get boy-crazy. We don't lose our heads (or so we like to think). We keep logic and reason. Val can philosophize circles around any man or topic you throw at her. And, she wins the argument.

That is why this hat-sniffing thing startled me. Val was sitting there, giddily, yes giddily, smelling a guy's hat. "Pheromones," she said. Oh, ok...

She went on to explain, of course, that when you are attracted to someone, their sweat, their very essence, will smell good, will smell amazing...divine...delicious. She was testing it, this theory, right this very minute in her room, she said. She took another sniff. Eyes closed, she buried her face into this sweat-stained baseball hat and inhaled...

It was attraction, alright.

I was puzzled. Someone's sweat smelling good? A guy's sweat smelling good? I asked if I could smell this hat too. It just smelled like sweat to me. At that point, I had never dated...never been close enough to smell The Opposite Sex on this sweaty level. But I became a believer in pheromones that day. Val was older and wiser. And come on, if she could sit there, giddily enraptured by sweat, pheromones must exist. Right?

I just hadn't found the right hat yet.

Val continues to be a proponent of the smell-test. And I remember asking her, when she was first dating her now-husband, "Have you smelled his hat yet?" "Oh yes! And Erin, he smells so good!"

A match made in heaven...

Does love really just boil down to whose sweat smells good to you? Are we that animalistic? Perhaps.

I laughed. I've been making these pumpkin cornbread muffins as of late, you see. Eating them all by myself, should you want to know.

But oh, I chuckled...vanilla...pumpkin...pheromones...

~ Baked acorn squash, stuffed with pumpkin cornbread muffins & sautéed kale, broiled with goat cheese ~


  1. Erin,

    OMG, you just made my day and it's only 5:45 AM. What a great post and thank you for the linkage love. I LOVE the Shakespeare quote and although I'm not sure I'm into hat smelling, I do like the scent of a well worn flannel shirt (depending on who's been doing the wearing). Or sideburns. If you want to make sure a random date is worth pursuing, casually lean over and sniff his sideburns (yes, I'm a 70s girl -- back in the days of sideburns). One little sniff and you'll know.

    P.S. I'm not girlie either. Well, I take that back. I'm girlie in a wilderness wandering, telemark skiing, sweaty yoga kind of way and find no reason to wash my hair on a regular basis.

  2. Melissa - Ha! I agree completely...flannel and a beard...nothing sexier.

  3. I have always been one that likes the more natural smells we each create. Not big on man made pefumes. I remember when you first came home from SF and you hugged me a long time and said you missed my smell. You also once hugged my pillow commenting that you could smell Mama. So just how do I smell? Must not be too offensive ;-) I would like to think I smell like a well aged oak barrel with a hint of pepper. One must always have a little pepper in them.

  4. Mama - Yes, I do remember coming home and telling you that. And I always remember your smell...not sure exactly how to describe it...fall leaves, some hound, and definitely some pepper...!

  5. Came across your blog from a fishing blog I follow, and have been reading your posts for an hour. You are a talented writer, and remind me of one of my daughters. This post reminded me of something I had not thought of in decades: In grad school at Cal, I was a TA, and taught history. Once a student came to my office during office hours, we were discussing a paper she was working on, and there was this smell....a pleasing smell, but not one I associated with the surroundings, clearly coming from this young lady. I finally asked. She grinned, and reminded me that I digressed in class often, and talked about cooking. "It's tarragon" she said, "I rubbed it on my neck."
    Good luck, young lady.

  6. Mike - wow....thank you so much! I'm very glad you've enjoyed my writing thus far, and hope you continue to. Tarragon is lovely! Perhaps I will try putting it on my neck instead of potatoes, or beets. ;) Thanks again for reading and taking the time to comment...they both mean a lot to me!

  7. Yikes... just going through your blogs and ran across this one. Couldn't resist reading and I have heard, and read, many times that this pheromones thing is true. But all that keeps coming to mind is my golf hats on a 95 degree afternoon of walking the course. Usually by the 5th hole, I think my cap stinks SO BAD that I want to throw it in the trash and rush back to the pro shop and buy a new one. Since I can't afford that, it goes in a stack in the laundry room for a thorough de-pheromoning!!!! In this case the title would be "Olfactory Gagging" Wheww!
    Erin... the more I read your blogs, the more I am drawn back. You have got to be the best thing since sliced bread. Or should that be Pumpkin Muffins?

  8. FlyFishingCrazy - Ha! Well thanks, my friend...and I should make up another batch of these. :)


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