Fur and Perfume

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.

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