I Can Smell You

Yesterday, I finally got around to picking up some groceries and whatnot from the store.  As I got home with my 3 bags of supplies and stood in the kitchen I caught a whiff of something.  Not a bad whiff, but one that was faintly familiar.  I stood there, the fridge door open as I puzzled and puzzled (sorta like the Grinch) over what the smell could be.  It dawned on me after a moment that something smelled kind of like Cortejo.  Odd, because she hasn’t been in the house in about a month and the only thing I have that would smell remotely like her is the t-shirt she borrowed from me after our tussle on the lawn at Peredur’s place (only getting to laundry tonight).

I smelled myself.  I had just come from her place that morning.  Nope, wasn’t me.  I smell like candy, or so she says.  I scratched my head and sniffed around and found the source of the smell.  And began to laugh and laugh until my sides ached.  In my rush out the door on Tuesday, I had left the coffee beans sitting out on the counter.  What I was smelling was warm roasted coffee beans.  Maybe that doesn’t strike most people as a compliment to find out they smell like coffee beans, but my favourite thing about buying the stuff not already bagged is the smell.  Plus, Cortejo drinks a fair bit of coffee, I probably shouldn’t be surprised that it is part of what she smells like.

To clarify, all people have a smell.  I have noticed that when you tell people that they have a smell they get squirrelly about it.  “A bad smell?  Do I stink?”  They ask, in a panicked voice.  “I showered today!”  I don’t think too many people stink.  My old co-host, he stinks (like a dead bear).  Everyone has a smell though, that is them.  Most of the time it’s a combination of deodorant, perfume, shampoo, laundry detergent and whatnot.  There is also just the way you smell based on the things you eat, or the smell of your sweat, pheromones.

Didja know that not all pheromones are about sex?  There are alarm pheromones, sex pheromones, food trail pheromones and a litany of others that don’t necessarily apply to humans.  One of the coolest is a releaser pheromone that causes alteration in behavior on the receiver.  An example of this would be mother rabbits mammary pheromones that trigger immediate nursing for their young.  Imagine if humans could do that?  No more 4am feeds because baby wouldn’t eat at 9pm instead!

What’s really interesting, is that a Swedish study was done on pheromones and found that homosexual men reacted the same as heterosexual women, and that homosexual women reacted the same as heterosexual men.  So what does that mean?  That there might be some basis that homosexuality has a biological base.  It’s nice when science backs me up when I tell people that being gay isn’t a choice, that I was born this way.

If you’re wondering about those perfumes or colognes that claim to have pheromones in them, I wouldn’t count on it.  There’s been no peer study to prove that any of the products claims are in fact true.  Pen & Teller touch on the subject in their first season of Bullshit! and put it to a test.  Doesn’t seem to have any affect at all.

Now, Cortejo said something once that got me to kind of thinking (okay more than once, but go with me).  She said that she had read somewhere that consumption/usage of aphrodisiacs was up (I think she said 300% but don’t quote me).  The reason?  We’re covering up our smells.  Slapping on the pit stick, washing up with heavily scented body washes, and bathing in perfumes.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen slather her body with any of those things (I don’t watch her 24-7, maybe she does) but I can tell you that I notice her smell more than I have ever noticed anyone else’s.  A friend once told me that she was rather upset at a former lover when she found out his smell was fake.  He had been using cologne, and when he stopped, she found that he smell wasn’t as appetizing.

There are some claims that it’s the scent of pheromones that helps us choose mates.  A study using mice found that females would choose a male based on how little the MHC gene resembled her own.  The MHC gene stands for the major histocompatibility complex.  These are special genetic protein markers attached to the surface of cells and helps the body recognize whether a cell belongs to an organism or if it’s an invader virus.   If it’s an invader, the body mounts a defensive to kill the intruder.  By choosing a mate with a very different MHC, she insures that her offspring will be protected against a wide variety of invaders, thereby promoting survival.

A similar study was done with humans, where men wore t-shirts for 2 days without the use of scented products.  The women were given the choice of 6 t-shirts to choose from.  3 with similar MHC and 3 with vastly different MHC.  The women found those who had similar MHC, the smelled like a family member, a brother or a father.  Women on birth control stated that the similar MHC shirts smelled better.  A theory on why might be that birth control tricks the body into thinking it’s pregnant, and pregnant women often prefer smells that are familiar to them.

[Cue shooting star]  The more you know!

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