Wednesday, December 16, 2009

No such thing as common scents

I love women.

As somebody who loves to know about the different ways other people think about things, women provide an endless bounty.  Despite lots of gum-flapping about how similar we are, men and women are tremendously different in how they approach problems, how they conceive of themselves, and how they comport themselves around the stage that is their lives.

Today I want to address one thing I love about women, followed by one thing I loathe.

Let's start with soap.


It all has to do with aromatics.  Most men prefer to smell like stuff you can sculpt -- for example, our deodorants are marked as Forest Action, or Sheer Ice, or Granite Explosion.  Stuff that sounds hard, tall, and vaguely outdoorsy.  Women tend to smell eatable -- mango, vanilla, or honey seem to be perennial favorites. 

I love coming away from time with a woman smelling like a fruit truck crashed into a bakery, because it's vastly different from what I get at my place.  If I wash my hands at home, they smell like soap.  If I wash my hands where a woman holds sway, it's likely to smell like sandlewood and dark cherry extracts.  Now, I wouldn't want to smell that all the time, but as a change of pace (and as a reminder of where I've been for the subsequent few hours every time I put a hand to my face) it's fantastic.

I suppose it goes back to my childhood (cue the wobbly lines).  See, I grew up in a house with two other brothers, and my mom (from dealing with us guys) was just as likely to smell like neosporin, Band-Aids, and "don't put that in your mouth!" as anything else.  As a result, any scent that's cloying is practically an unknown in my experience, certainly not associated with anything except "other".  So nothing says "experience out of the ordinary" like my hands or coat smelling of kiwi and strawberries.


I shouldn't generalize about all women.  Not every one cares to smell sweet and tasty, but I'm focusing mostly on the single ones, who (interestingly) seem to be the ones I spend the most time with.  So forgive me, but it's time to generalize once more.

Women have horrible self-conceptions.  I don't know if the cosmetic companies are to blame, or the fashion industry, or the tyranny of men over generations, or women's magazines, or the phases of the moon, or what -- women are absolutely soggy with feelings of worthlessness.  A couple of weeks ago, I was having a serious conversation with a woman -- a woman who seemed to be confident, in charge, and take-no-prisoners -- and when she revealed that she didn't really like how she looked or have any characteristics that should interest anyone, I exploded, "Oh, not you TOO!".

After telling her that I was, in fact, interested in what she had to say about all manner of things, because she's smart, observant, and funny: SHE. DIDN'T. BELIEVE ME.  "I hear what you're saying, but I just don't believe you."  I was angrily incredulous, you might imagine.  She couldn't understand why someone as "smart as me" could really be interested in what she had to say.  Half-joking, she said I must be crazy.

She also said it half-not-joking.  It's completely beyond her understanding that I could possibly want to hear what she has to say, because she's nothing special.  She doesn't "think anything".  If I would spend my time grabbing her tits or trying to kiss her, maybe she'd feel more comfortable around me -- at least then she'd understand where I was coming from.  I'd be "honest".

I like being honest.  It's one of my more attractive qualities now, if I had to appraise myself.  It suits me and it works.  So it drives me insane to hear that certain women don't accept compliments.  I don't mean they turn them down or feel uncomfortable being praised.  They just plain don't understand them.  Words bereft of meaning or importance: that's how they come across.

"Hey, that game you just won where you singlehandedly lead your team to victory?  That was really amazing."
--No, I totally missed a lot of those shots in the second half.  We should have won by a bigger margin.
"But you scored a triple-double!  That's amazing performance."
--Then the standards must not be high enough.  I was crap.
"You got the game MVP.  That's really good."
--What are you after, really?  You must be trying to get something.

Whence grows this self-criticism?  It breaks my heart.

And makes me angry.

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