March 09, 2002


I just put in a load of laundry, complete with Mountain Spring-scented Tide, and
it got me wondering: have these people ever actually smelled a mountain in spring?
Because I have, and it's nothing like their detergent. In fact, there isn't just
one mountain smell; a mountain here in the desert, covered with sagebrush and
desert wildflowers smells very different from a mountain in a Colorado spring,
with snow at the top and streams of pure melted ice running down to water the
columbines. The mountains of western Oregon have a bit of sea salt mixed in with
the scent of the pines that cover them, while those of northern Arizona's high
desert mix sagebrush with the pines. And the lower mountains of the mid-Atlantic,
from the Catskills to the Blue Mountains, can never quite escape the tang of all
those cities not too far away.

Deodorants are even worse. They have
scents like "powder fresh", "summer breeze", "baby fresh", and "sport". Taking
those in order: they do sometimes get the smell of talcum powder right, or nearly
right. They ought to; they can have the powder sitting right there in the lab, or
even blend it in to the stick. "Summer breeze" though, has the same problems a
"mountain spring". Also, whoever came up with that name was obviously not there,
as I was, that summer in Philadelphia when the trash collectors went on strike.
Not a good image for me. Then there's "baby fresh"; I yield to no one in my
admiration for the smell of a clean baby's hair (whether I want my own armpits to
smell that way is a different issue) but "fresh" is not the word I'd use. It's
more a subtle mixture of soured milk, baby powder, and visceral reaction. And why
would I want to smell that way myself? I don't want people I meet to want to
mother me. As for "sport", I thought that the smell of sports was exactly what the
deodorant is supposed to erase in the first place.

Most perfumes
aren't all that much better. I want one that makes me smell like fresh healthy
girl, or in less literal moods, like a freshly blooming flower, or a bit of musk,
or anything else that would make people want to be near me. Forget the "vat of
chemicals" smell so many of them seem to evoke. I don't wear perfume much, can you

Smells are so evocative that it's important to get them right.
There's one brand of shampoo that gives me flashbacks to Australia, because it's
the one I used on our trip there. And then there's the problem of mixture: what do
I smell like, if I've washed my clothes with "spring breeze" Tide, applied "shower
fresh" under my arms, washed my hair with citrus shampoo, spritzed on jasmine
cologne, and moisturized my skin with yet another unnamed scent? Not to mention
any other cosmetic product I might see fit to use? Do I just smell like "fragrance
amalgam"? Ick.

Marketers and advertisers are silly people.

Posted by dichroic at March 9, 2002 10:59 AM
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