Scents

Chloral Hydrate — A sedative and hypnotic drug fancied by Burroughs, Monroe, and Artoud; prescribed in the 60s to help a boozer with the DTs get some actual shut-eye. Also an ingredient in the fabled “Mickey Finn.” Its smell of pear drops drove those who remembered WW1 gas attacks into a frenzy of revulsion.


Chloroform — Indelicate administration caused many a death on the operating table and battlefield. If you don’t think you’re getting your fair share from your toothpaste, this fruit scented bar should calm you right down.


Cyanide — The delightful scent of almonds with a touch of bitterness. Not the cherry-sweet of hand lotion, but the pleasantly menacing nod to Carl Wilhelm Scheele, who took his research to a short lived level of intimacy by tasting each of his discoveries.


Ether — An addictive, inexpensive hallucinatory agent that made men sell the tools of their livelyhood, women abandon their newborns, and pushermen as rich as the tavern owner once was. An archaic drunk that will never return to fashion, now that we have quality alcohol that won’t kill you quite as fast. Its sweet aroma (not that I would know) is the most floral of these scents.


Hiding Place — Imagine a huge wooden chest, salvaged from your great great uncle John who was shanghaied at 15 and returned as captain of a squarerigger some 20 years later. At 9 you found the secret drawer that even your grandmother didn’t know about, and since then you’ve kept your sexy National Geographics hidden from your mom’s investigations and your little brother’s curious prowling. A million years old, and the chest still smells like black tea.


Lewisite — The scent of geranium indicates the familiar scent of home, and a gas attack. How’s that for a nostalgic kick in the limbic?


Shallow Grave It’s either very early, or very late; we buried our gift (I think I left the shovel there). My hands still smell of fresh dirt.


Tear Gas — The lachrymatory agent was first used in 1914; a change in wind direction delivered the scent of pepper back on the assault. Future deployments checked the weather.


Turpentine — When the human body metabolizes chemicals, expect interesting results. Some perceive cilantro as revoltingly soapy, sometimes beets can have frighteningly colorful results, and never order asparagus if you plan on staying the night. Back in a time when this sort of thing was Ask Miss Manners important, Benjamin Franklin advised taking turpentine drops to ensure urine that smelled of violets.


White StarPhosgene gas (identified by its smell of musty hay), proved an effective exterminator when mixed with chlorine gas, and was responsible for 85% of the gas related deaths caused by chemical weapons during World War I.  A white star was marked on containers, not that anyone on the receiving end might have noticed.


Wolf’s Peach — As a taxonomic member of the nightshade family, tomato was considered just another poisonous love apple. Oh, don’t worry you little Puritan, the fruit is safe. It’s everything else that will kill you. Provided you eat enough of it.

 

 

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