Smell That??

About a year ago, I wrote a post about how certain things smell.

It had to do with re-enacting, a favorite pastime of mine ( although not so much lately ), and that if I could make a cologne out of the combined odors of sweat, dirt, wet wool, woodsmoke, and harness leather, I’d pour a cup of it over my head every morning and probably have a pretty good day.

Or the smell of fallen maple leaves in October and November; and even deeper and much further back, the smell of burning leaves. The tradition was that once the leaves had been thoroughly played in by the kids, parents from all over New England would rake the leaves into huge piles, and burn them. Not the most environmentally friendly solution, but there were an awful, awful lot of leaves. Now completely illegal. ( I resist the urge to follow that up with some vaguely supportive, simperingly politically correct, pro-environment sentiment. It was what it was. Live with it). That smell would make one hell of an after-shave.

And now, here’s one more.

I was talking today with a MetLife VP who has a favorite hobby/ pastime, and also has the funding to be able to comfortably indulge in it. He’s a car guy, and he will tell you about his latest acquisition whether you want hear or not. ( God, why doesn’t he care about Lawyers, Guns, and Money, like a normal person would? Doesn’t know the difference between a gold-top Les Paul and a tree branch. Doesn’t even realize the global significance of Jackson’s flanking march at Chancellorsville. Can you even believe such a thing? ) In a world completely of his own. The absolute nerve…

Anyway… he drove up today in an orange 1956 Thunderbird convertible. I offered my compliments; it was gorgeous, after all. And, I somehow knew it as a ’56. My mistake. I then learned the particulars of Thunderbird engines, transmissions, overhead cams, and all manner of stuff that might well have been in Mandarin Chinese.

He asked me what I had driven in to work today.

As if I had much choice.

Any choice at all.

The nerve.

I said that I had taken the ’03 Ford Focus, the red one.

He wasn’t terribly familiar with that one.

Really, Sherlock? Really??

I did manage to mention one thing; that there are only two cars on the planet that I would honestly go out of my way for.

One was the Mini-Cooper ( not bloody likely, on my pay range); and an old Volkswagen ( a restored one probably costs more than the Cooper).

He liked the Cooper comment, had bought a yellow one for his daughter to drive to college last year. Didn’t get the VW thing at all. Why would anyone want one of those?

Our conversation ended with my phone ringing, and me promising to keep a camera trained on the Thunderbird; he would only be an hour or so.

Pretty nice guy, actually. A bit disconnected from the masses, maybe, but 1.5 million dollar bonuses will do that to a person. Tough old world.

But all that set me to thinking… why would  I want an old Volkswagen?

The smell, of course. Not the 60-mph top speed ( downhill ), or the draftiness ( because the tiny little heat vents had rotted away) or the feeling of sheer terror when the clutch would slip on a steep hill.

The new ones don’t have it, I’ve checked. They smell like any new car. Nice, but you can get that anywhere.

The old ones all have it. That wonderful smell. I don’t know what it is, exactly. I know that it seemed to get stronger as time went on. It is a very, very particular thing, and I would pay a lot to be able to get it back. That smell would make a great after-shave. I’d make a spray mist for the ladies, too.

Eons ago, I bought my first old white VW from the Major for $50, and drove it to the ends of the earth; I would fill the tank for $5.00 and go everywhere, listening to the 8-track player I installed ( it worked when it wasn’t too cold out ). Engulfed in the VW aura; the particular ping of the engine, hoping that the hood latch stayed engaged, hoping that something resembling heat might waft its way in, all at 45, maybe 50 mph.

My dad wouldn’t ride in it. He was still mad at the Germans ( and the Japanese, too -very altruistic in his profiling). He didn’t like that the engine was in the back; something suspicious about that.

Yes, it’s definite now. I want that smell back.

I’m not a car guy at all, but I would find a way to pay as much as I could manage for that musty old smell.

And if I could actually drive it to work, all the better.

Would a real car guy get that, do you think?

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Published in: on September 20, 2011 at 5:56 pm  Comments (3)  
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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. My first car was a VW Fastback!

  2. Actually, I just stopped by to invite you to a party! Kidding!:) Left a comment over at the Doctrine that was in part directed to you. Just wanted you to know.
    Hey, maybe the Saturday Night Call in Show is a party….of the minds.
    Now I am just being silly!
    Talk to ya later!

  3. Alright Hoke! What about tonight, then?


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