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Monday, October 20, 2008

Smell Ya Later

Chatting on the phone with a friend from NYC yesterday, he said a "magical New York moment" had just happened — the heat came on. It wasn't the sudden rush of warm air that hit him first, it was the smell of the old radiators kicking back to life after their summer hibernation. We discussed how scent has been scientifically deemed the most powerful nostalgia-generating sense we have. Sure, we recall things by seeing, hearing, tasting and touching, but smell — that's definitely my most powerful memory recall.

When it comes to relationships, smell memories can be a pleasant remembrance or like a sucker punch to the face, depending upon which smell is wafting your way. Like, if someone walks by smelling of sandalwood, I'm transported back to cozy times with my college girlfriend. But, if someone's wearing Calvin Klein's cKone, I'm likely to get violent.

Perfume or not, every human has a distinct smell — that's why dogs are able to track a missing person without getting confused by other humans. I'm no scientist, but from what I gather, it all has to do with pheromones — the chemicals present in animals that garner reactions from others in the species. You've heard the term "sexual chemistry," right? Well, according to many studies, a lot of chemistry comes from one's olfactory responders reacting to someone else's scent or pheromones. There's even a study from the University of Pennsylvania that says women are more relaxed and open to sex after smelling the armpits of a sweaty male. Personally, I find this to be completely true, and some of my gay male friends have also confirmed that a good, natural smelling armpit is the best aphrodisiac. I'm curious to know what lesbians would think of this study (as we all know, science likes to leave women who love women out of most studies).

How about you? Which smells turn you on? Which ones repulse you? Any thoughts on this "chemistry linked to scent" business? You can comment anonymously, if you prefer. Just make up a name and skip the email and website fields.


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