Thursday, August 30, 2007

pretend this post is scratch & sniff

I want scented tarts (not weird) and Crazy Hip Blog Mamas are offering them to whoever writes the best entry about scent memories. You can try it, but in the meantime read mine.

I am not a gearhead; I don't particularly like to get my hands dirty and I certainly am not interested in fixing anything mechanical. But I will happily stand inside a garage and breathe in the fumes of gasoline & grease for hours (or until I get lightheaded; then I sit, because passing out on a concrete floor is unpleasant).

When I was a kid, my grandpa had a wrecking yard and we lived right next door. I'd spend my days hanging around him and his old friends and dozens of vehicles in various states of disrepair. On his days off, my dad would wander in to help out and shoot the bull. The air was always heavy with the smell of old cars, stale coffee, and GoJo hand cleaner. I remember thinking it was kind of stinky up there, but I loved getting to sit on my grandpa's turning stool in his office and listen to the outrageous conversations ebb and flow. Every visit started with him handing me the key to the Coke machine so I could pick out a bottle of pop. If I were stealthy enough, I could sneak peeks at the dirty cartoons on the bulletin board. Sometimes I was allowed to use the cash register and count back change. Occasionally one of the guys tried to teach me something about an engine or axle or power tool, but I just nodded politely and went out to coax the dog into letting me pet him.

It wasn't until years later, when I was in college and away from my grandpa & dad, that I realized how much I loved that aroma of grease and dirt and working man sweat. I had a series of junky cars that constantly needed work and whenever I stepped into a bay, I was back home. It was never about my grandpa's business - it was the feeling of being part of a secret club; the smells in the wrecking yard represented their man-world, and I was allowed in. Maybe I subconsciously decided not to learn about fixing things myself so I could keep spending that shop time in meditation rather than concentration. And I married the perfect guy to keep these memories alive for me - the smell of our garage is nearly as satisfying as the one I grew up in. Give me the key to a Coke machine and some naughty comics, and I'm set.