Motion, less

The Beast looks outside through the window with a bouquet and vase next to him.

What is still?

The Beast poked his head out the open window. There was no glass. There was no screen. There was only a frame for him to rest his head and stick his snout out into the world. There was no barrier between him and the outside.

He sniffed left and right without moving his big, block head. He raised his nostrils one and then the other from the tip of his scent-hound muzzle. He investigated that which was happening downwind, but, the concentration of smells rode the jetstream of air from the north. There was some mowed grass and a hint of the shampoo from the damp hair of the mom jogging by and pushing a massive three wheeled stroller. He was able to also pick out her warmed deodorant.

There was the delicious aroma of whatever was happening in the compost bin. There was some funk and some sweet and some sharp and some fire. It had rained most of the weekend and there was some leftover dampness–wet dirt, wet grass and those mushrooms that just appeared out of nowhere.

The rose bush was blooming one more time, but the sweet fresh fragrance was overshadowed by the base muskiness of the mums that were brought home to brighten the front yard. He smelled both, though.

The flies buzzed around his head and out the open window into the cool air. One or two tried to fly back into the warm house, but were caught in the heat-cold exchange and pushed back out.

The Beast’s head rested on the windowsill next to a vase of fading flowers. It was a beautiful still life, colored by the late morning sun streaming into the dining room. But this was no inanimate subject matter. There was hundreds of small movements happening, all at once.

Sniff Testing 1-2-3

Dog, sniffing on the beach. He definitely smells something.

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.

Just A Cigar

An attractive box of imported cigar matches. From Cuba.

Was the first cigar you experienced between your lips or between your nostrils? I think it matters.

I was walking to the train and the incense from a cigar wafted past me. I didn’t invite it.

It reminded me of the time I left a happy hour and walked along F Street past Shelly’s Backroom. Shelly’s is a cigar bar.

I don’t know for sure, but given the Barcaloungers lined up outside the storefront window, I wondered if in our no-smoking world you can smoke inside the building, or if you had to smoke in the elements. Even at a cigar bar.

It was a narrow roped off patio. It took up less than half the wide sidewalk. Inside the sanctum were recliners full of men separated by little, low tables that displayed snifters and faceted rocks glasses with various amounts of brown liquors. The subtlety of the whiskeys may or may not have been overcome by the rolled leaves. It would be for me.

Some of the men had their legs splayed out in front of them as their heads were cradled by the high back of the chair, their stogies pointed north north east from their faces. They would look quizzically, with slightly squinted eyes, at the cigar while rolling it between their thumb and forefinger as they exhaled a plume of smoke. Other men sat forward with their elbows on their knees, the cigar in their left hand as they reached for the scotch with their right. These men were talking. The men leaning back were listening, or appeared to be.

It was a delicious night out for them. Domestication and requirements of good health be damned. I think they were mostly enjoying themselves in a peacock kind of way. They thought that they were badasses, too. They would never admit it, but it was true.

As I passed, I didn’t hold my breath so I took in the ashy, pungent and sickly smell of cigar. My memories were triggered. I could only think of one thing. Old men.

Old men from the neighborhood. My friends’ grandfathers and their Uncle Vitos and a stray neighbor with a brown beer bottle wearing a sweat-stained, saggy, v-neck undershirt after he mowed his lawn. None of these men drew me in. Indeed, they repelled me. And looking at the men on the sidewalk with their wingtips and hip striped socks, with their suit jackets abandoned and their ties slightly loosened, and puffing big white clouds all I could think was gross Old Men.

So not attractive. I walked a little faster. Away.

Fresh Grass

white smoke with a hand coming out from it

Legalized marijuana in the District stinks.

D.C. voters passed a ballot proposal that “legalized the limited possession and cultivation of marijuana by adults who are 21 or older.” It became law about 11 months ago, and while there are limits to folks lighting up in public, police are pretty much letting smokers be.

This has translated into the pungent smell of weed imposing itself on me with increasing frequency. It was a bit jarring at first. Walking to work, smell pot. Driving down the road, smell pot from another vehicle. Walking to the dog park, same thing.

And it stinks. Plain and simple, it does not smell good.

It smells like skunk. It’s our city skunk sachet. Ugh.

Today I was getting off the subway and was shocked by the smell of weed. Shocked that it smelled like the weed that scented the halls of East Quad in Ann Arbor many decades ago. Cheap weed that filled a ziploc sandwich bag for $5. Weed that was full of seeds and stems and nary a bud. It didn’t have a name (other than pot) and had the simple effects of making people giggle, paranoid and hungry.

For a second there, I smelled a familiar smell, like fresh mown grass on a late spring day. Not like it smelled like grass, but it smelled like grass. Man.