Monday, July 18, 2005


Finally, after claiming the contrary for ages, new research has proven what has been obvious to at least some of us: it is essential that we are attracted to our mate’s smell. Everyone knows that animals sniff each other. Perhaps it is difficult for some to admit that we are just another species on this planet, especially if one believes we were created to be God’s image. Surely the Almighty must be enjoying the mayhem in the Middle East, around the area of the original Paradise. For those of us not schooled in Kansas, we know our closest relative in the animal kingdom is the chimpanzee; not such an innocent cute creature as commonly portrayed but often vicious, capable of murdering his own kind, much like us. We are also closely related to the bonobo, which is the only mammal, in addition to humans, constantly in heat, earning the nickname ‘the horny ape’. At least in that society females are in charge; perhaps we could learn from that. Personally, I would like to take after gorillas, the ‘gentle giants’. They are strictly vegetarian and cannot even be taught to become alcoholics, unlike chimps, as they don’t drink: they get enough liquid from the juicy leaves they eat.

Back to smell: although we cannot claim to possess the sensitivity of a dog’s snout, we are capable of sniffing out plenty of different odors, some of which are very delicate. Don’t forget that senses are intertwined: when we taste food, most of the information comes via the nose: our tongue is able to distinguish only between sweet, salt, sour, bitter and, some say, MSG. This is also true visually: when we look at an apple, we instantly imagine its fragrance and taste. And at least in my case, music also has smell and taste. It can, unfortunately, be easily destroyed. Good intentions can backfire: Mozart can easily be covered with sweet and sour sauce when it is not interpreted naturally.

Twenty-five years ago I first smelled my wife’s skin, her hand or cheek, and instantly knew this was it for me. After all this time I still find her scent intoxicatingly delicious. We obviously are a good genetic match as our children turned out well. So many people try to cover their natural smell with perfume, after shave or similar masking agents. Nature has given us the means to find people we can be happy with forever, just by using our proboscis.

The same studies also claim that gay people are attracted to each others’ scents. Perhaps this gives another proof that they are indeed different from heterosexuals. Gay men prefer the smell of women and other gay men, but dislike that of ‘normal’ men. As I mentioned my feelings about music and senses, is it also possible that a gay listener finds fault in a ‘straight’ artist’s playing or singing, or vice versa? That would be terrible indeed, especially if it ended up harming someone’s career.

Happy sniffing to everyone! But beware: unmasked, there are plenty of real stinkers out there.