There aren’t really any cookies, mind you. It was a trick. A ruse. I wanted you to start imagining fresh-baked cookies. Sugar cookies, chocolate chip…those peanut butter ones that mom used to kind of press down on with a fork to make the crisscross hashmarks…doesn’t matter. Because odds are you did think of cookies and there’s a chance that you thought of specific cookies. That’s because the sense of smell is one powerful motherfucker and we totally take it for granted. Also, smart people claim that it’s the sense most keenly tied to memory. That girl you fell for that one crazy spring break? You know her smell. And it’s not just perfume and hair conditioning cream and fabric softener…it’s the sum of all of that and more. It works the other way, too…that bitch from accounting that thought Obsession was the greatest fragrance EVAH?!?! ERMAHGERD!! You know, the one who you could literally smell as she got out of her car in the goddam parking lot?! Yeah. Now, no matter who’s wearing that particular perfume, you somehow know upon meeting them that you hate them a little bit.
It works for things, too. Things like tequila. You have a bottle of it, puke your guts out, and then the next time you’re out someone offers you a shot and you respond with (all together now!) “Dude, no. I can’t even SMELL that stuff without puking.” See, it’s science! Your body has conditioned itself to avoid certain harmful substances, and tequila is certainly a harmful substance. You’ll smell it before you taste it or even see it, because your sniffer works pretty damn good despite being less important now than it was six million years ago. Good job, nostrils!
So here, then, are some of my FAVORITE smells. Good ones. Happy ones. Scents that take me immediately to a happy place. Like the beach, for example…
Specifically, Sticky Bumps original surf wax. Sure, Sex Wax is the one everyone talks about because the 80’s. But this is the stuff, along with the occasional Mrs. Palmer’s, that made it onto my deck all the time, especially on the longboard. The way it bumped up (hence the name) without having to go over it again and again was, well…magic. But the SMELL!! Imagine a tropical drink that featured coconut, vanilla, and blueberries. Imagine your truck being filled with that awesomeness on the way to the beach, and then on you after laying on it and rubbing against it all day. Wow, I just turned myself on a little bit. Awesome. I had some friends send me a few bars of this stuff a year or so ago even though I am currently land-locked with NO chance of surf. But when I want to take a break and hit the beach, I take a good long pull off o’ one of these babies and I’m instantly there, even if only for a moment.
On the other end of the spectrum…
This is one of those “greater than the sum of its parts” deals. Yes, the actual ice itself is amazing. Remember Doug Dorsey smelling the ice in The Cutting Edge? That shit is legit, yo. But it’s more than that for me. The mouldy foam flooring, the hockey pucks…a new roll of hockey tape…the slightly sickening burning smell of someone heating up their stick blade along with the singed smell of the glue as it pops free…beer…all of it. Any hockey player knows how comforting it is to get to a new rink in a new town and instantly know you’re at peace as soon as you walk in. It’s a little like heaven.
Patchouli (Yes, Patchouli) and Leather
I know. Trust me, I know. Hippies have ruined this for sooooo many people. That’s because hippies don’t know that you’re only supposed to put a tiny pinpoint of this stuff on each wrist then rub them together. That’s it. That’s plenty. Those dirty bastards ladle it on by the gallon. When so applied, it smells much like I imagine the Devil’s asshole must. Horrible. However, when I was a lad, it was the general scent of the counter-culture. You’d smell it at punk shows, at Lollapalooza, the cool alternative bookstore (COUGH! The Abyss COUGH!) and so on. The cool thing is, we all wore the standard Ramones-issue black leather motorcycle jacket. Now, leather smells really good, especially new black leather. Add just a hint of that hippie-juice and marinate for a few shows and smell your jackets wrist-holes. Holy Mary, but that shit’s good. It also happens to be the perfect example of how two different cultures can compliment each other in the right proportions. But seriously, fuck you, hippies.
Let’s just address the elephant in the room right now. This smells like black folks. It does. I’ve always loved this baby-powder-meets-honey-and-vanilla scent, but until I got older and started actually using it, I was just always envious of black folks and how good most of them smelled. (Like any of us need to be any MORE envious of the fact that our Nubian brothers and sisters will ALWAYS be cooler than white folks, Iggy Pop and Henry Rollins excluded.) But man, I don’t care if I’m using this stuff on short hair to mess it up (like white folks do) or part or pomp it up (like white folks used to do) I love the smell. No lie, I’ll sometimes open the orange tin (a lifetime supply!) and get a big whiff of it to carry me through the day. There are other great-smelling hair care products…Dax Wave-n-Groom smells a bit like Murray’s, and if you add a topcoat of Tres Flores Brilliantine, you get a sublime mish-mash of powdery, waxy, wonderful-smelling awesomeness. Good God, I want to eat my own hair now. It’s that fucking good. I’m waiting on a response from Jan Hella over at The Rebel Rouser to hear what his favorite pomade scent is. If Murray’s doesn’t finish in the top-three, I’ll be sorely disappointed.