Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Eau d'Love

by Daddy X


A dear old friend, now deceased, once told me his gorgeous girlfriend didn’t have any objectionable body odors.

“I swear, Daddy,” he said, “nothing at all, maybe just some sweet smells and flavors now and then. She’s not like other girls, honest. Lots of things about other girls turn me off.”

“But that’s impossible,” I countered. “Everybody sweats; everybody shits. Maybe she douches a lot, but everybody’s asshole stinks.”

“Not Carol. No smelly odors at all,” he insisted.

At the time we were all young adults, living in what we thought was an objective world. We weren’t experienced enough to understand the more subtle interactions of cause and effect. Point is that my friend was in love.

Human sensory responses adapt to passion. Whatever the experience, those qualities relating to love and desire manifest themselves as subjective. Enjoying what we see, hear, smell and feel about each other makes us more comfortable together.

Cuddling on a sofa with your soul mate, there’s a level of comfort you couldn’t attain with many of your friends. Elbows, ribs and knees all seem to fold together easily, comfortably. How a loved one’s skin reacts against the texture of our own. Hands unconsciously roaming to physical places on another evoke varying degrees of comfort, depending whose hand and where it lands. Unless someone takes polyamory to an unheard of extreme, we can’t love everybody on that heightened sensory level.

Last week, Garce’s post exploring early hominids had me wondering if research into our ancestors could result in theories regarding attraction at various junctures along the genetic trail. Were early Sapiens comfortable mating with Neanderthals? Why do some people have an attraction to women with a unibrow? Why does body hair on a woman turn one on and others off? Why do some women prefer clean-shaven men? Is that slope to his brow attractive? What are we most comfortable with?

Of course, much of this attraction thing is built on culture and personal experience, an aversion to particular behavior, or a penchant for type. Maybe he reminds you of your grade-school crush (who never even looked at you). That cute cheerleader you took to the prom and who fucked the quarterback afterward? Well, she put you off the cheerleader type forever, didn’t she? Or maybe you’re the one who fucked that quarterback. What did he have that was so special?

 But what I find most intriguing is that palpable sense of comfort that evolves into love, as well as the converse: How love is so pliable as to make us more comfortable with each other. How our own physical reactions minimize negative traits and embellish the positive in those we find ourselves attracted to.

9 comments:

  1. Beautifully expressed.

    I've seen speculation (or maybe it was a study) on the possibility that even though humans don't rely on scent as heavily as many other mammals, when it comes to sexual attraction scent is a major factor, and may even clue in our subconscious to who has genes that would work well with ours when/if it comes to procreation.

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  2. This is really interesting. I am extremely aware of scent compared to other people I know. There are people who seemed perfectly nice and attractive that I couldn't get close to because I didn't like their smell. And there's nothing like the scent of a lover. I've also noticed that the beloved person's smell becomes ever more appealing to me the more I like them.

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  3. Hi Daddy X!

    I think we respond to many many levels of subliminal and non-verbal signals between us we don;t even know about. The more I study about modern sciences discoveries about consciousness and how we respond the less in control I feel of my reactions.

    I've read that women (in addition to being to see colors that men don;t realize exist) are sensitive to smell, and especially the smell of their lover. Sometimes you read about a woman putting on her lover's shirt or clothes so she can smell him/her. I want to use that in a story sometime.

    Garce

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  4. When Momma and I were in high school, I wasn't the only young dog sniffing around. One guy she went out with a few times smelled bad to her, even though he had big bucks. Instead, Momma went with the bad boy from the wrong side who smelled like weed.

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  5. I think my female spouse never smells bad, lol. All these years, I just thought this was a unique characteristic of hers -- I didn't think it was about me. So the question is: does love or attraction affect our sense of smell, or does our perception of smell affect whether we will be attracted to someone? I'm sure someone is researching this issue.

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  6. Sorry to be dropping in so late here!

    I for one would guess that scent-based attraction comes first and love/comfort follows.Or maybe sometimes it doesn't. I had a few experiences with chemistry that didn't translate at all into emotional connection. I've been drawn to men (to the point of having sex with them) even though I realized, objectively, I didn't really like who they were.

    I've been consciously trying to include the sense of smell in my writing lately, because it is such a powerful determinant of emotion and evoker of memories. It's really hard to describe smells though. They're so basic, primitive - they get processed by the brain stem, the part of the brain we share with lizards.

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  7. Yes, Jean- Another chicken-or-egg study. Interesting on a primal basis.

    And Lisabet- Yep, flavors and smells are difficult beyond the sweet/sour/peppery or more mechanical sensations. One way, I guess, is to use comparisons that 'smells like', 'taste like', but that would get tedious if used too much.

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  8. When I was much younger I told my Mom she could blindfold me and take me into any of our relatives' houses and I could tell just by walking in who lived there. She told me I was silly, but I really could have done it. Scent is much-ignored, but yes, part of our instinct.

    As a young woman, I spent weeks going into a department store daily, spraying various perfumes on both arms, and gradually weeding out all others to decide on Shalimar. My husband says all he has to do is sniff it, either on me or in the room, and he's "ready"! Interestingly enough, smelling it on other women is kind of offensive to him. He thinks they're "stealing" my fragrance...plus it's their skin reacting with it, so it's slightly different.

    I love the smell of my husband and my kids. When I hug them all, I sniff their heads, and make sure to inhale when I kiss them. My husband's mustache is one of my favorite smells...that's where men are supposed to emit hormones, so I guess that's it.

    Interesting topic. Sorry I'm late, but I was busy hugging and sniffing my son who lives in another state, for a few days, to celebrate his birthday. ;-D

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  9. Glad for your comments whenever they happen. Happy birthday to your son! And the upper lip for pheromones? That's a new one on me. How come it never helped *me* get laid? … Or-- maybe it did? :>)

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