When I was 12 me and three of my best friends at the time (one still is, the other I see sometimes at the train station, and the other is a Pimba singer) decided it was time to experience smoking. Needless to say that this was a really bad idea, especially for me, since I have chronic bronchitis, had a pneumonia at 4, and have a big history of cancer in the family. Either way, we were young and dumb, and it was the 90’s, so we bought a pack of cigarettes and went to a field near the river to hide from passers-by. Of course, we had no idea how to inhale properly, we washed our teeth on the probably contaminated river so our families wouldn’t perceive the stinking smell and ground us til after college, and iniciated a life of poor health, bad breath and fleeting moments of pleasure and guilt.
Although I didn’t become a hardcore smoker, I did smoke for fifteen years. After college I started smoking more heavily. An ounce of tobacco wouldn’t last over a week which was a problem for my health and my finances. I decided to cut back and not give in to every desire of a smoke, and eventually, after one Carnaval, I was sick and naturally quit. I couldn’t smoke when I had a cold, the cold was long and I decided to give it a go at stopping. This was five years ago, and although I haven’t started smoking again on a daily basis, I do smoke sometimes when I go out for drinks (OK, almost every time I go out for drinks).
Since I (almost) quit, my senses improved. I remember the first time I had a beer after my palate got cleaned up of all the nicotine and chemicals that I smothered my tongue with, and it was a completely different taste. It tasted… More. A lot of nuances of the flavor I have never experienced before. Food also started tasting differently. My physical resistance went through the roof. It was a whole new world.
It was also a world of new smells. My nose started picking up everything. The scent of the eucalyptus while walking in the woods, the fragrance of wild spearmint along pathways, the hunger inducing smell of homemade fries in the neighborhood around dinner time…
But then, as everything in life, there is the other side.
My memory of Paris is not the good smell of freshly baked baguettes, but rather the “Zeus, get me out of here, there’s dead mice, still water and people who don’t bathe in over a month” smell of the subway.
I can smell trash 10 meters away, fresh dog poo on the other side of the road, and even some skin diseases from afar.
One time, when I still lived with my parents I gave them hell for a week because there was a bad smell in the kitchen from unknown origin. I drove my father so crazy that eventually he figured out that the fridge was clogged somewhere and water was leaking to the floor and creating a microcosmos on the verge of iniciating a civilization.
The world is a very smelly place, filled with scents that no human should experience.
Actually, the world stinks.
But the world is also a fragrant place, filled with a wide range of beautiful, loving smells, that can lift your spirit and take you back in time, through the smell of crayons you used to draw as a child, the perfume of a long lost lover, or the cinnamon your grandmother put in the oatmeal she cooked for you after school.
The smell has this wonderful ability of remembering you who you are (or when to shower). So, remember kids, DON’T START SMOKING!