Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sense Memory

From an email exchange between my pal, Rachel and me, talking about those fragrances that are so evocative:

Sense memory - we studied this in acting class in college. Everyone has it - it's when you smell, see, taste or hear something that evokes memories and an emotional response in you. It's used in acting to allow you to react to something in a play/scene/etc. - you use your actual responses to make your 'acted' responses real. I just got smacked with a big one! We must have a farmer in the office somewhere. I just got a big ole whiff of my Granddaddy. A mix of machine oil, cow manure, hay and cheap cigars: heaven! I saw his crooked grin - the same one that greeted us every time we drove up into the yard, no matter if it was midnight on a Friday night! I am supressing a grin of my own and there are little prickers in the back of my eyes. Sometimes I miss the old reprobate.

You mentioned a 'pouf of Coty...air' from your from your Mammaw's bathroom cabinet! It reminded me of one of Momma's stories. When she was a little girl, she rode from Little Rock to California one summer with Aunt San (Bomo's youngest sister), Pop Denson (San's husband), Momma's grandmother and HER sister, Aunt Wee (Louise, of course). Aunt Wee used Coty loose facepowder and used to fold it up in little squares of wax paper to put in her pockabook. Inevitably, they would leak and so everything in Aunt Wee's purse smelled like L'Aimant. During the trip Grandma asked her sister for a BC and when Aunt Wee gave her a wax paper packet, Grandma said, "Louise, this is face powder". Aunt Wee insisted that it wasn't, that it only smelled like it because everything in her purse did. Grandma took it, reluctantly and suspiciously and for the rest of her life was convinced that she'd downed a packet of Coty's face powder.

Arpege is Momma to me, though she hasn't worn it since I was 10 probably. But I can remember her coming to pick me up from my babysitter's house - cold cheeks and a slithery, crinkly coat andsmelling of Arpege and feeling safe and secure for the first time since she'd left that morning.

Momma has a similar kind of memory. She remembers being a little girl and going into Bomo's closet while she was at work and smelling her clothes. It must run in the family. I use Jergen's lotion in my bathroom because Bomo's always did and it reminds me of her. Well, I think that would be a fascinating topic somewhere. You and I certainly have a varied list of sense memories - cologne, lemons, cigars, bubble gum and cow poop!

1 comment:

  1. Don't forget First Turning, the first few spattery drops of rain raising the dusty dirt, the GREEEEEN oily-smoke scent of lawnmowers, a fresh-cut watermelon, a kitchenful of vinegary-sweet pickles simmering, and babynecks.

    It's lovely to tune in and see our little correspondence used in such a sharing way---your words NEED reading, and I can't wait to see what else you write about.