So, the other day my random Internet clicking led me to this candle. I was pretty tickled by the simple existence of this thing, let alone the product description:
THE MAN CANDLE — Finally, a candle that smells as cool as you.
…Like an idealized version of what a man could smell like, given proper hygiene and grooming.
The same company offers candles in scents like Bacon, Whiskey, Fresh Bread, and Campfire. Unfortunately, they all seem to be out of stock at the moment, but there are promises of new supplies in 2012. Let’s hope!
Anyhow, it made me think about all the scents used to describe heroes and heroines in romance.
The sense of smell is very visceral. Once I heard someone explain that the olfactory nerve is actually the shortest connection to the brain–meaning, the sense of smell is more immediate and directly perceived than other senses. I’m no scientist, so I don’t know how true that is, but it seemed logical.
Being a writer makes me extra aware of how unique and precise smells are, among all the other things we perceive and describe. If I write “He saw a pine tree,” every reader will imagine a slightly different pine tree. If I write, “He smelled pine,” every reader knows exactly what I mean.
But what does “man” smell like? (In optimal conditions, heh.) Obviously, the makers of The Man Candle have their ideas.
In the past, I’ve associated scents like leather, linen, soap, starch, pomade, shaving soap, and cologne with my heroes. Subtle nods to the idea of hygiene, I guess. Then there are the beverages: whisky, ale, rum, brandy. And yes, I’ve used pine. Sandalwood, cedar, and other woodsy scents are common. There’s also that generic idea of the scent of “clean skin” or “male musk”. :D
With heroines, I’ve gone for the usual lavender, rose, verbena scents for some. Others have smelled like lemon or herbs or clover. I’m noticing a botanical pattern here–which makes sense, since femininity and nature are so often symbolically linked.
But I think what we romance authors are doing with all these descriptors is just trying to get at that visceral reaction of ”Ooh, s/he smells gooood.” Right? Because that’s a powerful, very romantic, response.
What scents do you associate with men, women, or romance in general?
Ever read a scent description that made you shake your head and say, “What?”