Friday, 7 August 2009

Aaah, the smell of Grandma

Tamara of Doodles of a Journo talked about associations in one of her recent posts. She related how sometimes a smell or seeing something can trigger a memory. She also wrote about how some memories seemingly appear unbidden. Much has been written and said about how powerful a memory trigger smell can be. The lines from the famous Afrikaans poem “my nooi is in ‘n nartjie, my ouma in kaneel” immediately springs to mind. Literally translated it means – my girlfriend is in a tangerine, my grandmother in cinnamon. So smells of tangerine reminded the poet of his girlfriend and smells of cinnamon of his grandmother. Now, today I have a story which proofs just how strong the smell memory trigger can be. Tamara mentioned that the smell of tea reminds her of her grandmother. I commented on her blog that my grandmother smelt of Singleton’s Medicated Snuff and Frisco Coffee. I’ve left something out. Something very significant. When I was small, my grandmother changed her perfume from the famous 4711 cologne to Yardley’s Moon Drops. So whereas I remember the smell of 4711 very well, the other smell I associate with my grandmother is Moon Drops. Lamb and I was married for about a year when Ouma (Granny) Rose passed away. After the funeral, Bee, my mother rounded up all the stuff in Ouma Rose’s flat and handed it out to all her sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews’ wives. My male cousins and I got a few photographs. When people know Grandma likes a certain type of perfume, they buy it for her on her birthday and Christmas. So all the unopened bottles and Gift Sets of Moon Drops that my mom found were handed out as well. A month or so after the funeral, I was watching TV and Lamb was taking a bath. Later she called me from the bedroom. She was laying naked on the bed, beckoning me with her finger and a beguiling smile. Not needing to be invited twice, my clothes evaporated from my body and I jumped onto the bed next to her. As I sidled up to her, it was as if hit by a hammer on the forehead. She positively reeked of Moon Drops. She liberally doused herself with body lotion, talcum and perfume from the Moon Drops gift pack she got from my mother. (Sorry, I am using split infinitives again). Although we’re Afrikaans speaking, I told Lamb the following in English: “Sorry Doll, but I cannot get it up if you smell like my dearly departed Grandma.” So there’s the proof, smell can trigger a memory so strong it can stop a recently wed warm blooded man in his tracks and turn a tumescent torrent to a drooping drip. Luckily we laughed so much that no nooky didn’t matter in the end. What is your strongest smell association / memory?

4 comments:

Betty said...

In spite of the fact that Proust's madeleines and the concept of involuntary memory and made TASTE the literary memory hook, I think I agree with you on the smell thing. I love the smell of rain in the air, when you can see there is a moerse fokof donnerstorm coming. And the smell of freshly crushed parsley. And vanilla. I think those are my all-time favourites.

Spear The Almighty said...

A Koos fan I see. :)

Tamara said...

hehehehe... funny story. Thanks for the link love and the laughs ;-)

angel said...

LOL... thats funny dude!
My nose doesn't work too well, so I have few memories attached to smells. The smell of dettol makes me think of tattoos, and the smell of jasmine reminds me of visiting my ouma.
There are other smells, that I can't put a label to- that remind me of things. Like the smell of my granny and grampa's luggage and clothing when they lived in Natal and would visit us in Gauteng.