|Something smells very, VERY funny. Click to explore that scent.|
Let’s consider that for a moment. Doesn’t really evoke love, does it?
Yet as a writer, I stubbornly—stupidly?—keep striving to incorporate all five senses into my tales while my characters grapple and rassle in the name of romance.
Sight? Easy-peezy, lemon-squeezy. Sound? Sure: heavy breathing, groans, moans, and hands ruffling over corsets and what have you. Taste and touch I’ll leave to the erotica writers.
But the sense of smell’s a curious quandary, a puzzle for this writer. Generally (and without trying to sound sexist, gotta be careful these days), women writers are more successful in describing the scent of love than men, I think. Yet—and I see this constantly—most female writers who dare to venture into olfactory romantic territory, tend to comment on the male partner’s scent of “musk.”
Well, I dunno from “musk,” but I’ve been in more than my fair share of men’s locker rooms and the only scent that comes to mind would be dirty socks (and that’s putting it politely). I looked up the definition of “musk.” Ms. Google says “musk is a pungent and greasy secretion from a gland in the male musk deer.”
Go figure. Even if men could secrete such an odor, I wouldn’t think it’d be an attractive one. I don’t see a lot of musk-scented air fresheners hanging in cars. Yet I read about this masculine scent... All. The. TIME.
Sometimes I even see men’s odors described in books as “musty.” Again, my assistant, Ms. Google helped me out. “Must” is even worse than “musk.” The definition reads “having a stale, moldy, or damp smell.” Ever so eloquent, Urban Dictionary goes on to add “the smell of armpits.” Clearly, you ladies don’t like the smell of us men. (Psst…you would be right).
Male writers, on the other hand, stumble around, attempting to describe how female characters smell. A lack of male vision keeps the scents narrowed to two options: some kinda floral arrangement or food. Which says A LOT about where men are coming from: their stomachs. I’m guilty of it, too. “She smelled of vanilla, touched with a dash of cinnamon.” (Apparently my character's ready to eat the female character. Just toss in some fava beans and a nice chianti and we're set.)
So, class, the takeaway from this lecture is men smell like armpits and women smell like food. There’s gotta be more to it than that. And as a writer, I vow to go on olfactory high alert until I’ve upset the cliché cart and created some new scents.
|In Peculiar County, everything smells fishy...|