At work my desk is by a window four storeys up and underneath the window, at street level, people smoke. And when they smoke, the smoke rises and creeps through the window and up my nose. I am not a smoker so to me the smell of cigarettes is a heady blend of stale ashtrays and the fictional memory of what a real chimney should smell of, courtesy of Disney’s Mary Poppins.
It got me thinking about the smoker’s nose – what I mean by that is the fact that smokers are so used to the smell that they can’t smell it. How ironic is it that the people who are bothered by the smoke are the ones who aren’t drawing it into their lungs or onto their clothing/hair/accessories several times a day?
So why do we get used to some smells and not others? For example, I recently purchased my favourite perfume but after a while the smell does not seem to linger on me and I’m forced to frequently switch perfumes to keep the smell, well, smellable (new word? I’m coining it right now. Smellable is mine)!
So why is it that when I went shopping on Monday and spritzed myself (and by myself I mean my wrist, friendship bracelets that are permanently tied on and coat sleeve) with a different perfume – which by the way turned out to smell like a cross between over-scented pot pourri and moth balls – that four days later I can still smell the awful stuff? Is it some reaction by our brains to ensure that we are kept awake and alert by not being able to zone out smells that we don’t like? Answers via comments please! If someone can invent the selective nose I would like to apply. And if that is a new scientific breeding idea I’m taking credit for that too.
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