Scent of a woman

Published 9:09 pm 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.