Marissa Lingen (mrissa) wrote,
Marissa Lingen

Not my idiom (now, with no coconuts!).

It is a silly thing, but it frustrates me over and over again: I just don't know of socially acceptable modes to say what I'm actually perceiving. If you come across someone you haven't seen in a long time, and you are inquiring after their travel, and you say, "How are you? You look good," there is a way to intone that so that your impression of the other person's sexual attractiveness is not at issue. You can also intone it so that it is that kind of compliment, but there is a way to say it so it doesn't come out that way. You can also say to someone who has been sick, "Are you feeling better? Your color is better."

But that's not what I'm perceiving. What I mean is, "It's good to smell you again," and "How are you? You smell good," and, "Are you feeling better? Your sweat is better." Especially that last. Sweat is on the list of things we are Not To Notice, apparently.

And you can say, "Oh, it's good to finally match a name with a face!" But if you say, "Oh, it's good to finally match a name with a smell!", things will become very swiftly alarming from that point. Possibly for both of you.

And if you say to your friend, "It was nice to meet your sweetie in person, and I can kind of smell what you smell in him/her," that's not good either. Even though if you said, "I can see what you see in him/her," no one would assume that you meant, "I have noticed the visual appeal of your sweetheart but no other, non-visual traits." "I see why you want to go out with him/her," comes out very different from, "I smell why."

All the ways I can think of to say this in English end up sounding like they are comments either on attractiveness in more detail than people expect to hear it in non-romantic relationships or else on basic hygiene standards. Switching from "you smell good" to "you smell all right" makes people feel like a packet of lunchmeat or a gallon of milk: "Has so-and-so gone south?" "Give her here. Nope, smells all right to me."

It's a different data set, is the thing. One misses things the other catches, and vice versa. And I'm sure there are things my eyes are technically catching that my brain is not processing consciously, just as there are probably things many people smell that they're not processing consciously. But having some sense of which is which seems like it might be useful. Reporting in that I see something I don't see at all seems perilous.

It seems that as people get to know me better, I can say more of this kind of thing and they will be used to it more. So this is a good trend. I am less careful than I was about trying to hide smelling things. I have reassured a number of people that a fair amount of what I smell is neutral to me, that it's not a bad thing to smell a moderate amount of what someone had for dinner or that they are a little stressed. I am still somewhat careful when it comes to attractive members of the opposite sex, though, and as I am geek-oriented, this comes up a lot in the social settings I'm most likely to be in.

I'm pretty sure some of you are as sound-oriented as I am smell-oriented: do you have this trouble at all?

(Now markgritter has been up and down most of the night being sick.

All right, autumn! You win! Uncle! Aunt! Whatever other relative you want me to say! Just cut out this petty bullshit! This is insult to a pile of further insult and injury mingled.

I would like to go kick something now.

I have been going around telling people I am going to spend November eating bonbons and reading movie magazines. I started inviting people to join me. In some cases I may even provide the bonbons.)
  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

← Ctrl ← Alt
Ctrl → Alt →
← Ctrl ← Alt
Ctrl → Alt →