Can We Talk About Smells For A Few Minutes So I Can Get It Out Of My System?

As usual, I inserted myself into a twitter conversation today that started off discussing the fact that there is only one Blockbuster left in the world. Tragic, sad, will miss Blockbuster but I love Netflix so whatever. RIP.

In thinking about Blockbuster I immediately remembered the smell of the store. Sort of like plastic, sort of like old people, sort of like shitty microwave popcorn (somehow, even though they’re wrapped individually and it’s probably impossible to smell it but I swear I did.)

My wheels started turning as usual, and I find myself thinking about smells a LOT. I’ve got a pretty good nose (sorry to brag in the faces of those with poor olfactory systems) and I started to wonder if other people get as triggered as I do by certain smells. Turns out, Science agrees with me:

Research at Toronto University shows that memories triggered by smells tend to be clearer, more intense and more emotional. One theory is that this is because the part of the brain that processes smell has direct links with parts that are involved in emotion and memory. Our olfactory receptors are directly connected to the limbic system, the most ancient and primitive part of the brain, which is thought to be the seat of emotion.

EMOTIONAL! There’s a word I hear 10-20x a day. My limbic system is poppin’ off 24/7. It’s so true though. When you walk down the street and you get a whiff of a McDonalds 4 blocks away, are you also transported to the back seat of your mom’s Jeep Grand Cherokee while she butchers your order at the McD’s drive through? When you walk into a Home Depot, do you think about the time your dad took you to pick out a slide for the swingset being built in your backyard? When you crack open a #BudLight with your bros, are you transported back to the disgusting Delta Sig house after a 14 hour Beach Party, fishing your Jack Rodgers out of the 40 tons of beer-soaked sand the pledges were forced to bring inside?

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(these are my real friends, btw.)

Everyone knows the obvious bad/sad/sentimental ones. The smell of the first vodka you puked up all over your dad’s car in the 8th grade at 11am (Smirnoff Watermelon.) Your ex’s cologne/perfume. Your ex’s deodorant. Mouthwash. Chapsticks. Skin? Basically anything that your exes put on/around their bodies. The way your friends’ houses smelled, the way your Nana’s house smells, the way hot garbage and urine smells as you sweat your dick off on the way to work during the summer in NYC. But back to my original point…

Stores. Stores are a HUGE trigger. The aforementioned Blockbuster. Barnes and Noble. Subway. Walmart. Anthropologie (this might just be me but DAMN does that store have a specific smell.)

I could literally go on all day. I want to talk about smells forever. I want every scent bypassing my thalamus and headed straight to my olfactory bulb and then right back out of my tear ducts.

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