What do they smell like?

It's Tuesday! Time for me to pull a topic out of my--I mean, off the top of my little blonde head.

Last night I wrote a scene in which smell was a big factor. Sweaty bodies, drugs, magic herbs, cheap beer and homebrew all smushed into one hot, smoky space. I like the scene; I like writing about smells. I think it's one way to really, firmly put the reader where you want them to be.

And writing about scents always makes me think of pheremonal attractions, too. A long time ago I read about smell being one of the most basic building blocks of attraction--literal chemistry between two people. You could meet the most beautiful woman or most handsome man in the world, but if you don't like the way they smell chances are you're going to have a hard time getting it up, metaphorically speaking.

I don't mean liking their cologne or soap or whatever. It's the scent of their actual skin, that unique combination of different smells that make one person, that's important. It's one of the earliest indicators of attraction, I think, the idle thought that someone smells good. Even smells we might not ordinarily like could very well smell good on someone we find attractive--the hubs used to wear Fahrenheit, which I never liked, but it was okay on him (although I went out and bought him a set of Givenchy Pi, which I love, at the earliest opportunity. The smell of it still makes me go all tingly.)

Conversely, I once had a boyfriend buy me a bottle of Giorgio Wings, which I hated. I wore it for him because he liked it so much, but as soon as he was gone, so was it. I gave it away almost before I gave him back his stuff.

JK Rowling, I think, used this very effectively, when describing the scents Harry found comforting and appealing, which just happened to coincide with what a particular character smelled like. I've done the same thing, too.

When do you notice fragrance or smells? Can you think of a scene in a book which used scent particularly well (no fair citing Suskind's Perfume), or one which didn't?

What smells do you like?


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