Archived Story

Scent of a woman

Published 9:09pm Saturday, August 4, 2012

I tried to kill my husband once. It wasn’t on purpose, I swear. It all started because I wanted our house to smell like a home.
When you enter our home, it tells the tale of my family. Warm colors and family photos all give that warm fuzzy feeling. What I don’t want is for someone to walk into my home and smell wet, dirty dog, the burnt offering from last night’s dinner, some floral bathroom spray covering up a nasty bathroom smell and just the smell a house has from being lived in.
I like to “cover up” all those smells with something that lets those who enter my home believe it was clean with a hint of something wonderful baking in the oven. Who cares if that wasn’t reality? It still helped set the tone of my home.
As I write this, I can hear my grandmother saying, “you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear” and something else about “lipstick on a pig.” But, I digress. My desire was to always have my home smell good, no matter the cost.
Anything with the aroma of autum was my favorite, so I bought several of those “plug-in” things that promised a wafting aroma of freshly baked apples with a hint of autumn throughout my house. They worked well enough, but the smell only lasted for a few days, and wasn’t as potent as I wanted.
I then added a few candles into the mix. You know the kind that comes in lovely glass jars that cost a small fortune and smell so great? The only trouble with them was, after a few days of burning, they were not fragrant enough. How about potpourri?
I chose a lovely bouquet of dried apple wedges, cinnamon sticks, nuts and oil-infused wood that looked pretty in a bowl. Apple Jack was its name and it smelled just like “fall.” I also added the bottle of room spray to my collection, just for good measure.
About this time in the home scenting process, my husband got a runny nose. It went on and on and neither one of us ever gave it a second thought. His runny nose progressed into wheezing and coughing, finally culminating in a slight tinge of blue around his face. I convinced him it was time to see the doctor.
Into the office he went and out he came 15 minutes later with two prescriptions.  Being the doting wife, I asked him what the doctor said and what he needed me to do. His answer was simple.
“Get that #&?! smelly stuff out of the house. Doc L. thinks I am allergic to it!”
Say it ain’t so, Joe! No more baked apple, fall smell?
“Can’t you just stay on the medicine?” I asked.
He wasn’t amused. It turns out he had an allergic reaction to cinnamon, which is the other key component in all scents fall.
It was official. I had tried to kill him, or so he told everyone.
Many years later, after numerous attempts to try and sneak new scents into the house and a “fall” smell every now and again, I have come to the reality that “dirty, wet dog and lived-in house with burnt dinner” scent is a keeper.
So when you come into my home, remember this: it smells that way not because of how we live but because I don’t want my husband’s cause of death to be listed as “death by home fragrance” asphyxiation.
A Yankee with a Southern soul, Gillian Pollock is a wife, mother of two ever-challenging children and director of Christian Formation at Saint Peter’s Episcopal Church in Washington.

Editor's Picks

Pay raise proposal leaves too many questions

On April 5, Gov. Pat McCrory announced his proposal for an average 5-percent pay raise for teachers, as well as larger bonuses across the board, ... Read more

Higher expectations required

It’s time to vote again. Today represents a monumental day in which all citizens can exercise their right to vote. Many don’t. Primaries often have ... Read more