Daily Archives: January 3, 2003

Fur and Perfume

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Got on an elevator today with a woman wearing a fur coat and a nice, subtle perfume, and the combined scents of fur and perfume in a small space made me suddenly flash on being a little kid in the hall closet, how I used to love to close myself in that dark space with the scent of fur and wool and my mother’s stale perfume. I loved the feel of her fur coat, the texture and warmth it gave off. I can’t remember now if it was real, but it came from D’Jimas Furs, which passed for a swanky furrier in upstate New York at the time. Fur has virtually disappeared from view now, but at the time, even a trucker’s wife had a fur of some sort. And men wore hats. And nickels had bees on ’em.

Scent provokes strong memory reactions in me. Often, if I’m having a hard time remembering a particular place, I try to remember its smell, and then the visual memory follows. The easiest way for me to get a vivid image of my father is to remember how he smelled. Odd as it sounds, that was a combination of diesel exhaust, cigarettes, beer and maybe some slightly rotting lettuce. (He hauled produce, much of the time.) The diesel and cigarettes were the key elements. Hmmmm… and he died young, why? Still, that smells like Dad to me.

Snow again, honey

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It’s getting to be a lot like Syracuse around here. Okay, not really. In the ‘Cuse, it snows a bit just about every day, and these big dump storms are less frequent. But overall, they get about 120-140 inches of snow a year, and we Albanians get 60-80. When people ask me what it was like to live in Syracuse (in the fireside chat of my mind), I tell them, “You ALWAYS had to brush snow off your car, and your feet were never dry.” The cold, the wind, the 305 non-sunny days a year — all of those I could deal with. But it drove me crazy to brush off the windshield, drive to do a five-minute errand, and have to brush off again. Just picking up the newspapers often required brushing off the windshield (I was driving a Renault with seriously weak heat, so it was rare that snow would just melt off the windshield). And between constant rain and constant snow, living a more urban, walk-around life than I live now, my feet were wet and cold all the time.
Just like they’re going to be this weekend.

Missionary positions

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This has been bugging me for months, or perhaps years, but a couple of overly well-dressed, overly pleasant Jehovah’s Witnesses showed up at my door this fall and set me off on a slow burn. When I was younger and stupider, I would actually try to engage these people and get them to understand the ridiculousness of their mission, which attempt was precisely as futile as their mission to bring me the word of the lord. Eventually, I understood this and learned to just say no. Through much experimentation, I have settled on, “I have my own religion and I’m not interested in yours, thank you” and firmly shutting the door. But if I were part of their religion, would I really want to be out signing up people who have not given life, death, and the existence of G(g)od more than a passing thought until the day someone shows up at their door in their convert-the-heathens clothes? Who would want to be part of such a church?
We are faithless. At least, I am. I was raised with a mix of Catholic and Methodist ideas, and despite quite a number of attempts, I never believed in any of it. It’s a bit of a challenge to explain various religious issues and ideas to the girls when we don’t have that simple base of comparison to rely on. We can’t just say, “Well, the Jews believe x, but we believe y.” The best approach I can take is just to inform them as best I can as questions come up, and know that someday they’ll figure out what they believe on their own.
And I’m hoping to God they don’t figure it out because some well-meaning half-wit comes knocking at their door…