What Is That Smell?

My wife and the female members of our tribe have gotten serious about essential biblical oils. I am a skeptic about snake oil and all things magic, but I gladly acknowledge how healing these oils have been.

All fragrances are influenced by the chemicals of the person wearing them.

The other day I was wandering through the house on my way to the coffee pot when I thought of Monfort. Monfort Trucking so dominated the Interstates of America that the left hand fast lane was called The Monfort Lane. They hauled beef from the Monfort Beef Packing Company in Greeley, Colorado. The Monfort smell emanating from that packing plant could be smelled just west of Sioux City, Iowa. Potent! And that odor was in our house.

After serious self-sniffing and questioning my wife, I determined that I was smelling one of the essential oils as it deteriorated and diffused.

A couple of days ago, I offered to take old towels and blankets to the dog pound for friends. The smell in the car and on my clothes was that of dog. Not puppy breath, but check-my-shoes kind of smell. I made some assumptions and changed clothes. The next day the odor grabbed me again. I had not washed the jacket. The scent showed up during a meeting with a bunch of preachers. I sure didn’t need them to be making any assessments about my cologne.

In the middle of this, we received a quasi-medical newsletter from “Nasal News.”

This mystery has not been solved. Carole keeps asking me, “Is this the smell?” Nope. Until a better solution surfaces, I’ve decided it works like this: Carole puts on one of her attractive essential oils, hugs me and something on my clothing or in my skin changes the basic scent. But! To a barn lot or a dog fragrance? That screws up my self-perception. Nasal News may have a new headline.

Malcom Gladwell writes about the Birmingham Civil Rights’ battle in one chapter in his book, David and Goliath. (Little, Brown and Company, 2013). Gladwell tells stories about Wyatt Walker, the third person in the King, Shuttlesworth, Walker team. Walker says,

“I think Negroes like myself have developed almost a mental catalogue of the tone of voices of how a white face speaks to them. Everything that a white person says is interpreted by the nuance of the tone of voice, or maybe the hang of the head, or the depth of tone, or the sharpness of the tongue, you know—things that in the ordinary, normal ethnic frame of reference would have no meaning, take on tremendous and deep and sharp meaning.” (page 177)

That paragraph sent me into hard self-examination. Am I sure that my “look” is received as I intend when sent? And about that odor….

This gets really heavy as I recall our daughter at age four saying to me, “Being a parent must be a terrible nuisance.” My “look” and tone had nothing to do with her. I still had on my board meeting face from the night before.

What am I communicating that contradicts what I’m saying?

Into heavy sniffing,

D Dean Benton

The Benton Quest House

One thought on “What Is That Smell?

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