My husband is a bit neurotic about his personal hygiene products. When he finds something he likes, he sticks with it indefinitely and rolls his eyes on the rare occasions I step outside the box and buy him something different. Seriously, he’s been using the same razor blades and face lotion since I met him ten years ago. Don’t even get me started on his deodorant. Old Spice Pure Sport is the ONLY kind that works, apparently.
That being said, I couldn’t help myself the other day at the grocery store when I saw that Old Spice has come out with a new deodorant line. Old Spice FIJI, in particular, caught my eye. The label sticker boasted that it smells of palm trees, sunshine and freedom. Really? Freedom? What exactly does freedom smell like? And for that matter, how do palm trees and sunshine smell?
Being the good sport he is, my husband gave it a try (only later did he complain about how it wasn’t as good as Pure Sport!) and every time I got within ten feet of him I’d mention how he smelled like freedom and how much I loved it. As you can imagine, this was only funny the first six or seven times, but it did get me thinking about how book characters, especially in YA, always have a distinct smell.
John Green’s Alaska smells of vanilla and cigarettes, Perfect Chemistry’s Brittany smells of cookies, Shiver’s Sam has a “faint, wolf smell.” Stephanie Meyer made sure to tell us that Bella uses strawberry scented shampoo. I’ve read about characters smelling of sunshine and raspberries and sandalwood and leather and mint and fresh air. My own adorable main characters, Mason and Faith, smell like soap & cedar and lavender, respectively.
Scent is such a powerful sense, capable of triggering memories from years ago. The smell of a certain Johnson & Johnson baby shampoo always reminds me of when my daughter was an infant. The smell of Bath & Body Words Daffodil Fields Body Splash (discontinued years ago…does that age me?) makes me think of my senior trip years to Hawaii, and garlic makes me think of my childhood and my mom busy in the kitchen frying meatballs. What about you? What are your favorite smells? What do they remind you of? And more importantly, what scents have you assigned to your characters?