Thursday, January 13, 2011
What the hell is that smell?
Let me say from the start that I’m not going to talk here about disgusting smells, funny smells, or inappropriate smells. This blog-post is about those unhealthy smells that bring back fond memories, smells like diesel fuel, bacon fat and pipe smoke. And guilty smells like when your neighbour’s house burns down and you like the smell because it reminds you of a campfire on the beach.
On second thought, it’s not about those smells either. It’s about preventing my bookstore from smelling bad.
An elderly man came in recently with magazines to sell and the moment he opened the box my eyes began to burn and my nostrils clamped shut like a camel in a sandstorm. I said ‘these magazines smell of cigarette smoke, and there’s a yellow film of pure nicotine that sticks to my fingers when I touch them. You could roll these magazines up and smoke them’. He narrowed his eyes and said ‘they didn’t smell when I put them in the box this morning’ and I said ‘how the hell can you tell? You’ve been smoking for what, 60 years?’ He made that angry face I see people make sometimes in other bookstores and I was beginning to think that maybe I went too far when he suddenly whistled with his throat and began hacking that loud barking sound seals make when they’re in distress. Well, I figured that if he can’t talk I can finally get a word in edgewise so I tell him I get many books that smell of mould or cigarette smoke but I throw them out because a bookstore should smell like wood and cognac and not like a rotting corpse. He had yet to take a breath and was turning purple and worse he wasn’t even listening to me so I suggested that he take the magazines elsewhere to sell. He finally took a breath and said ‘I’ll donate them to a Hospital’. I hope he changed his mind, our hospitals have enough already to deal with.