The Smell Of The City

215New York cabs are for kissing. Or shouting. Or both. And their insides serve as spurious ambassadors to the smells of the city. I rarely encounter a backseat that tickles my olfactory senses, until yesterday that is, when I took a ride with a gentleman who imparted some serious fragrant wizardry. It was all babies and antiseptic and roses. I felt happy and oddly soothed. He told me that everyday before his shift starts, he wipes his seats, door handles and upholstery with a mixture of rubbing alcohol, pinesol and rose water. ‘I never get sick anymore’, he exclaimed with such glee it was contagious, or I was high on the ethanol. I ran to the nearest Duane Reade, bought the ingredients and poured them into an empty water bottle to use on anything in need of ‘future disinfecting’ – I’m thoughtful like that. Me being me, I added some bergamot, geranium and jasmine essential oils for a little extra somethin’ somethin’. It’s a pretty damn lush concoction.

I’m always amazed at how smells can trigger the most intense, complex memories instantaneously. When I’m in New York I’m blindsided everyday (even if I don’t always inhale deeply). Think top notes of unmistakable $1 pizza (even at 8.30am), and lingering hints of incense, sweat, exhaust, and – on a good day – weed. Noxious on its own, but just an allusion can be, well, alluring – that’s the perfumer’s dirty secret isn’t it? Something almost ‘nasty’ used in minute traces to give the addiction and the wanton aspect ultimately makes the scent and its trail literally irresistible. If you’re in any doubt, look up the ingredients of the magnum opus of fragrances, Fracas. And then, just sniff.


source: helena carrington

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