As I sat here tonight in my mustard yellow, authentic stucco California bungalow surrounded by lovely photographs of friends and family, I couldn’t help recalling the many joys and memories Martha Stewart has brought me throughout her illustrious career, primarily in the form of mocking laughter and snarky commentary. So it was without a single second of hesitation – not to mention a screaming recommendation from Choire on the East Coast, that I tuned in tonight for the television event of the season: Martha Inc. starring Cybill Shepard as Martha Stewart. The reduction of the life and the lady into a two hour made for television movie was a series of moments made in heaven. Let us never forget that “Every good cook deserves a copper pot!”
One of the things I will confess to loving about Martha is her overzealous attention to every detail, in particular her key awareness of scent. Growing up I was always acutely aware of the smell within other people’s homes, particular once all of the Wizard “Your house has house-i-tosis” commercials started airing. Every house in the neighborhood had a scent all its own. Freshly caught and gutted fish in all its forms were as much a part of the Hitch household as the kids themselves. Their father worked for a fish packing company. The Treosti’s did not seem to be the least bit embarassed about assaulting the senses with an aroma of menthol cigarettes and Italian spices. The Hollifield’s were already deep into their assault on this smelly world, pine scent air freshener, lemon fresh furniture polish, Charlie perfume and Old Spice after shave. Their place always gave me a headache. For the life of me though, no matter how I tried, I could never smell our house. It is this bit of knowledge I at times hold fast to in trying to better understand the world in which I live.
In my current living situation, my housemate has apparent issues with opening her windows. Consequently the thick and languid smells of cat piss, cigarettes, and more cat piss and cigarettes, coupled with strong Asian cooking spices spices, have created this olfactory concoction that overpowers the moment you enter – not unlike The Fog attacking Adrienne Barbeau on the late night radio. In fact, a simple climb up the stairs will allow you to tell instantly if her door has been opened any time in the past hour. It has crossed my mind on many occasions wondering how one could live in such an environment, until tonight when, for one reason or another, Martha Stewart only partially to blame, it dawned on me that she may not even notice, in the same manner I found myself unable to smell the house I grew up in. They say that nose memory is the most powerful of the sense memories, yet our olfactory senses seem to be set to ignore all things familiar.
As for my not so lovely or charming room, well, it is relatively scent free these days, or at least I think it is. Clothes and sheets are washed in scent-free detergent, an ionic breeze from the Sharper Image cleanses the air constantly of any air duct assaults venturing forth from across the hall. Even still, I can imagine what my room might smell like to the unfamiliar or untrained nose. You would discover a slightly citrus smell derived from orange peels and empty aluminum cans of Fresca awaiting recycling day, mixed with just the slightest spice factor of pepperoni pizza, ever so delicately flavored with a definitive pinch of the aroma of dirty socks. What does your corner of the world smell like?