Everyone has their own unique signature, as unique as their finger prints. That odour is created in in a genomic region called the major histocompatibility complex (MHC).
Our sent is transmitted to the outside world by our body fluids – sweat, urine… The smell can be influenced by factors such as the food we eat. Well known examples such as garlic and, as one person at work announced rather too loudly to the office when talking about her husband, asparagus.
Because our scents are unique, they can help us to pick each other out (babies recognise their mothers by smell), and even pick a mate. That MHC is part of the immune system and when it produces these unique finger print scents known as pheromones, it’s promoting attraction between two people whose genetic makeup is biologically different and even plays a role in the immune system’s ability to recognise and target harmful diseases. In doing so, MHC genes also help ensure that partners who procreate will have children with stronger immune systems.
A while ago, I was super impressed for noticing a friend’s perfume. Apparently it was the same one she always wore but, after what was probably 18 months, I actually noticed it. Or she she just wore a little too much this time. This was the same friend who once told me that I smelt similar to her brother, which should have been obvious to her considering that she knew she bought the same stuff for her brother as I bought when I was out with her once.
I didn’t recognise her scent of the day and she recognised mine as being someone else because of the artificial covers we were putting on. However, I’ve always noticed when different people come to stay at my place, that most of the people I know have their artificial signature scent too. All my friends seem to choose something different with different smells that they like. I like Thierry Mugler, the person I mentioned before was wearing Chloe, I’ve forgotten what it was that one of my line managers used to wear, but he wore oh so much of it every day for the 12 years I worked for him. You knew it was him walking in the office without looking.
I was reminded of this when my brother came to stay. He, bizarrely, doesn’t seem to need to use anti-perspirant, but does use deodorant, and a lot of it! Moo walked in to the room near the bathroom, sniffed and promptly went to the other end of the house.
So, how am I going to force this in to a metaphor? Our personal natural scents are really important, but we sometimes choose to cover them up with other signature scents. It’s even more interesting that we sometimes do this with the thought that we’re making ourselves more attractive to potential partners.
The metaphor of my brother’s deodorant is about the important little messages and cues that come naturally that we’re hiding behind something that we think other people will find better. What are you hiding, simple or otherwise, that you probably shouldn’t?
And then I catch myself
Catching your scent on someone else
In a crowded space
And it takes me somewhere I cannot quite place.
But then I remember you,
And the way you shine like truth in all you do.
And if you remembered me,
You could save me from the way I tend to be.
The way I tend to be.
This post is part of my Forced Metaphor series, a group of posts that seek to find lessons that probably don’t exist in random things.