5.30.2008

Smell Memory #1: Horses

I have been a little bit out of the perfume loop lately, so I'm going to post on some smell memories to get back into the habit of posting!

I grew up in a semi-rural part of Florida, where the outskirts of the Tampa suburbs met the outskirts of West Pasco dairy farms. Lots of my neighbors owned livestock. The most precious of these, to my young feminine mind, were the horses. When I was around 7 years old, our babysitter was this teenager from the neighborhood who would ride up to our house on a beautiful, kind, brown horse, complete with a white star on its forehead. She would let my sister and me pet the horse as much as we pleased while she chatted with Andy, our hottt Finnish exchange student.

My favorite part of the horse, besides its impossibly soft nose, was its wonderful smell. I have never been able to get anyone to agree with me on this, but horses smell delicious. It's a dirty smell, but an deeply satifying one. It's akin to the way your body smells just after you work out, before the sweat has a chance to get stale, and your body just smells live and wet. Then there's the fine dust that settles on the horse's coat - the dust they kick up when they run on coastal Florida's sandy terrain. It adds a silky fizz to the moist, squishy sensuality of the skin smell. Yeah, you know what I'm talking about. You might say that horses smell...envaginated. After all, isn't the horse the typical object of young feminine desire? Don't all little heteronormative girls want them? So elegant, so expensive. Those long manes and tails you could french-braid all day! The round apple-bottoms and shapely legs! The princess associations!

But horses are also scary. A tussle with one will kill you. Even ponies are not really to be trifled with. After all, when ridden by a cowboy, a horse is one of the ultimate symbols of renegade masculinity. Bucking broncos, wild horses, endless miles of sheep herding, riding off into the sunset. Even Mr. Ed was, ahem, a dude. Horses are living proof of gender double standards, not that we really need living proof, since proof is all around, all the time. But the nature of a horse changes based on the gender of the person who wants/owns it. They're girly and silly when desired by little girls (I want a pony for Christmas); elegant and beautiful when owned by young women (my babysitter's horse); and useful and strong when owned by men (his trusty steed). Taking this to its literal extreme, illustrations in medieval French romances would depict horse and rider, with the horse's (male) genitalia sized to match the masculinity of the rider (thanks, Emmanuelle)!

Anyway, back to the smell of a horse, which is likewise genderiffic. Peeking through that impeccably powdered vagina is the unmistakable scent of oranges just past their peak, still delicious, but harboring a passive-aggressive hint of decay. You've neglected us for much too long, those aging oranges seem to chide, as they apply $100 moisturizer to their drying peels, and you gaze surreptitiously at the pert clementines that still swing from the branches of the neighbor's grove.

Of course, the smell of leather - auxilliary, but sexy and caddish as always - is not to be forgotten. That smoldering saddle sidles up to you, slick as the seashore, and smoothly cops a feel, only to stick uncomfortably to the backs of your thighs if you mistake that one-night stand for endless love.

When you pet a horse, it's not just the scent of horse that gets all over you - it's also the perfumed dust that lays obediently on the surface, like talcum, waiting to turn anything it touches to silk. You pet a horse, and your hands become as fragrant and soft as the horse's nose.

3 comments:

Abe said...

This is a lovely description. Something in the sweatiness and headiness of the smell makes me think of thunderstorms, and the sort of sickly mineral odor that hits you in the moments just before their arrival. It's warm and sensual and slightly dirty, but at the same time it leaves you curiously hungering for more, like vainly searching out the name of a forgotten song.

la niebla said...

word.

Identity Crisis said...

What's wonderful is the way that fierce looking horse and rider are poised on top of a traditional Japanese go board. Talk about a compounding of manly imagery; I don't think I've ever even seen a girl play Go. Funny that, despite extreme degrees of abstraction, Go can still retain the nominal genderific-ness of military games.

Horses have always terrified me. They're really big. In itself this isn't an issue, but I can't help but feel there's insanity boiling just under the surface, right under those big shiny eyes. I've always done my best not to get close enough to sample the heady scent of horse.

Also, "When I was around 7 years old, our babysitter was this teenager from the neighborhood who would ride up to our house on a beautiful, kind, brown horse, complete with a white star on its forehead. She would let my sister and me pet the horse as much as we pleased while she chatted with Andy, our hottt Finnish exchange student."

The life you ANONYMOUSs lead ..