Fragrance or Odor? All in the Nose of the Beholder.

Being blessed with an acute sense of smell is both a blessing and a curse.  The tiniest of scent in the air can be picked up by my olfactory system. Scents, like music, can also transport me in time back to my first love – a clean fresh smell of deodorant, or being in college, if someone is wearing a scent one of my roommates wore – “Lauren” by Ralph Lauren. I, myself, had a preference for Liz Claiborne’s signature fragrance. Crisp and clean. Being able to recognize the fragrance my husband prefers by his reaction to me also contributes to whether the product is purchased again and again. I love to hear, “Oh, you smell so good!” when we are locked in an embrace.

Scents have been known to produce headaches. A floral perfume that is too heavily applied or too floral wafting up from the lady seated in the auditorium in front of me at a play or concert, heavily weighs on my ability to leave the performance cheerfully, without a headache. Candles also have the ability to initiate a dull ache in my frontal lobe or fullness in my sinuses. In these cases, even though they are deemed fragrances, the scent now becomes an odor due to the untoward physical state that is induced.

Odors are unwanted or unpleasant fragrances, are they not?  It is that scent in the air that produces a grimace, a cough, or the shutting of a door. We live down the road from a farm that has cows. When it is dusk and the barn doors are flung open, make no mistake that it is an odor that fills the air. Whew! Malodorous fragrance be gone, I say!

Having a past history in healthcare also gives rise to memories of fragrance. In nursing school we were taught never to wear a fragrance to work clinically, as it might induce an array of symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, headaches, and such in our patients. Remember, what is fragrance to you, might be an odor to others.  Patients can also produce a variety of odors, none of which I have ever heard referred to as fragrance.  Healthcare workers can gag too, if an odor is pungent enough, they just learn how to hide their reaction from their patients.

All things considered, I cannot imagine living without the ability to smell. I would miss walking into my favorite coffee shop and being greeted with the fragrance of fresh ground beans or freshly brewed coffee. I would miss knowing my “scent” was stirring a reaction in my husband. I would miss the smell of fresh cut grass, a recent rain, or lilac bushes in the spring. I might even miss the odors that fill the evening air with a scent so thick you need to cover your nose so you cannot smell. I do not miss the odors encountered in healthcare. Thankfully, those are just unpleasant memories I can just barely recall. And that is the key point, pleasant scents or fragrances are memorable, invoking thoughts of place, people or time. Odors are just easily forgotten scents until we are exposed to them once again.

Enjoy the fragrance in your life, for it is as individual as each of us are!

Inspired by the WordPress Daily Prompt: Fragrance


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