Every now and then, when blessed by the aroma of a deceased skunk on the highway, I get the craving for a nice cup of java.
I like the smell of skunk. I like the smell of strong gourmet coffee. There is a correlation between the two, but before I get too carried away…
Reflecting on my skunk/java olfactory-association of recent years, I am transported by my truck’s air vents to fond childhood memories. My appreciation of smells that most people find repugnant can be traced back to the Little Rock Zoo. As a five-year old, my second most-anticipated exhibit was the elephants (the first was the snake house). It’s not that pachyderms were overly fascinating creatures, they just smelled so darn good.
Approaching my teen years, I wondered why elephants and skunks pleased my senses. I was already a bit of a social outcast, so I shared my peculiar perfume preferences with only my most-trusted friends. I don’t mean to imply that this was some bizarre fetish that preoccupied my life – it wasn’t (and it isn’t).
In college, I discarded the pecking-order mentality that seemed to follow many into their post high school years. I became less inhibited about being unapologetically “me”. Admittedly, that has nothing to do with “parfum de mouffette”, but it’s shamefully fun to reminisce. The point I’m getting at is that I don’t care what people think. I’m coming out of the odiferous closet.
On a related note, here’s a fascinating read on the psychology of scent perception:
Back to the highway.
The other day, Tanya and I were driving along and we were suddenly hit with the most exquisite smell. To me, likened to a most lovingly-brewed Indonesian Sumatra. To Tanya, absolute putrification. I told her that our little striped friend reminded me of coffee. The was the first such confession in our ten-years of marriage (she knew I liked skunks, but the coffee revelation was fairly new – even to me).
In short, she thought I was nuts.
This threat to my firmly-established sanity prompted me to seek vindication. I set out to find clarity on my skunk and coffee quandary and was pleasantly rewarded.
It seems as though I’m not insane. Have you ever heard of the compound “thiol”? I hadn’t either.
Chemicals in the Thiol family are fairly pleasant to most people in small doses. Coffee and garlic both contain variants of thiols. More concentrated thiols of slightly different composition are found in skunk oil and rotten eggs.
It’s not outlandish to think that someone who is both pleased with the smell of skunk and is a lover of good coffee can recognize the parallel undertones of each (and appreciate them both).
I can only hope my children follow in my footsteps.