To top
31 Aug

Sense Memory, Addendum

My dad wore Brut aftershave, the kind that comes in that opaque green bottle with the fake gold medallion. He didn’t wear it a lot, but it was the only aftershave that he used when he did use aftershave, and so it burned into my psyche – along with cigarette smoke (Players) and aged leather – as the smell of my dad. After he died, and I went to work cleaning out his home, I spotted a bottle of it in his bathroom, tucked at the back of a medicine cabinet, coated with dust. I thought, that bottle is probably fifteen years old, and then I shut the cabinet and went back to sorting through his things.

He had, as I’ve mentioned before, a lot of things. I hired a dumpster that remained parked in his driveway, and the process of cleaning out his home was one long cycle of sorting and deliberating and carting and tossing. Some things were easy to sort and toss – the ancient tins of soup and boxes of spice and broken furniture and old bedding that was too worn for Goodwill – but other things were more difficult, like the little plastic baggies filled with clover leaves – he was determined to find his four-leaf token of good fortune, it seemed – and I found myself, too many times, hanging over the edge of the dumpster, second-guessing something that had been thrown away. I didn’t get in, though. Not until I remembered the Brut.

30 Aug

Sense Memory #637

noxema_tnLet’s say that you go to the drugstore to buy diapers and tampons and Vanity Fair magazine, and while you are there, you buy one of those little tubs of Noxzema – not the big one, the one that slides to one corner of the shopping basket and tips it with its weight, the little one that fits in the palm of your hand – and you take it home with you, whereupon arriving you take it immediately to the bathroom, thinking, I will just open it up and smell it, because you know that the smell will transport you, you know that it will make you feel fifteen again, and who doesn’t want to feel fifteen again, just for a minute, to feel fifteen the way that fifteen feels when a fifteen year old is standing in the bathroom with a tub of Noxzema in her hand, listening to the clatter of her parents in the kitchen downstairs, believing, knowing, that the thick smelly cream, deliberately smeared – upward, upward, so as not to pull down on the skin – will lift all the dark crud from her pores and from her anxious, adolescent soul.