When I was a kid I hated visiting one of my old aunts because her parlor smelled funny…it was musky, dampy, and yes: it was old. When we grow older do we smell of “old?” One of my new “40” friends remarked how she dropped a new boyfriend because he smelled “old!” I asked for a definition of smelling “old,” but all I got was: musky, damp, and old. Familiar? Which raises the question of why old people have that smell? Or do they really have that smell? Is this something I am going to be looking forward to when I am the new “70?” Is there a chance of a new product here? Let’s see: if you can’t get it up you have Viagra…a smiling old actor makes everyone else feel good about erectal dysfunction. For wrinkles we have botox, but for smells??? That can be tricky. Product wise it requires some creativity in marketing. Who should be the spokesperson? Sean Connery? A liquid concoction that can be stirred not shaken, then taken once a day like a cocktail.
Growing older resembles an automobile. Eventually all parts will be either replaced or fixed. No matter how much high octane gas you put in it, a dirty carborator, sparkplugs, or oil will eventually lessen its performance. For example: as we grow older we start noticing gray hair in places where it should be forbidden to grow. Why is it that the older we get hair seems to take on a life of its own? It falls off the head but grows in the nether regions or the face. Is the angst over hair growth manifesting itself in a smell? Could it be that our bodies, like an automobile, tell us that it is about time we started replacing parts? Is the smell the first hint?
We hang on to our bodies like a child hangs on to its blanket: although tatty we still find it comforting. Creative marketing aimed at our new “40” generation is a multi-billion dollar industry. We are sold creams, potions, teas, and surgeries that would make us look less old and more acceptable to the world, or so we think. Are we postponing the inevitable: the “old” smell? Eventually it will catch on with us and botox will not be able to help us. Hopefully, someone will eventually come up with a cream, potion, tea, or surgery to eliminate the smell until our colon starts acting up.
My father died at 73 and I truly do not remember him smelling anything but of tobacco and after shave which was generally Old Spice. It is still my favorite smell for a man. I remember snuggling to him and feeling comforted by his smell. It was an identifiable smell. It was him. It was a smell that still reminds me of his gentle yet firm hands and twinkling eyes. If that is the smell of “old”, than bring it on: I miss it terribly.