What does salt smell like? It has a taste, but to the nose there’s not much. So the smell of salt in the ocean must not be salt. It tastes like salt, when you lick your lips. But it must not be the salt you are smelling. It’s the ocean. Since taste and smell work together it seems like you smell the salt.
Walking along the water on a hot summer day, there’s more to smell than the ocean. Some people bring elaborate meals. Frankly any beach meal is elaborate if you don’t eat it out of a bag. The smell isn’t specific, other than it was food. It had some kinds of spices or herbs that wafted to the shoreline. Maybe it was boxes of pizza. That seems labored. The beer was mostly in cozies. There was no smell of hops.
From the family of four little girls in matching pink swimsuits and very pretty bows on their little heads and accompanied by a little boy who did not share the pink print on his swim trunks, came the unmistakable smell of summer. It was the scent of Coppertone.
Coppertone was the only suntan lotion when I was a kid. It wasn’t called sunscreen in those days. It also didn’t screen the sun. But we were slathered with it when we got to the beach, before we ran into the water. It smells of sand and sweat and seaweed and my mother ensuring that our fat little legs were covered.
Coppertone makes real sun protection now. There are a bunch of different formulas. Sprays. Lotions. Sport. Waterproof. A little UV protection. A lot of UV and other rays protection.
But the kids’ Coppertone still smells the same. And it still feels the same. Like a ham sandwich on white bread with a little bit of sand and an Orange Crush. And the sound of gulls who screech greedily at those sandwiches and kids who scream like they’re on a ride at the amusement park but are just expressing shock at the cold water. And an afternoon in the sun, with the family, having a day at the beach.