Saturday, August 01, 2009

A Conspiracy of Potencies.

Yeah, I made up a word.

I was at dinner with my mother last night in a small family owned restaurant on the far end of the county. I had been there once before. An okay place. Decent food.

Yet all throughout the meal I smelled something, which, when it hit me, took my mind back to where my acting career began. Oddly enough, when this aroma hit my nose I was, in a very potent way, reminded of the Theater at Marietta College. More specifically, the dressing room.

It is no secret of course that of our five senses, smell is the one most directly connected with the memory section of our brain. They are not sure why, though some speculate it has to do with the fact that the olfactory nerves are the only parts of the human brain that are exposed to the open air.

Whatever the reason, I have often found it to be true. It is especially true when a memory is connected to an uncommon smell. One that you would not encounter everyday. Such was the case last night.

It wasn't food. It was not someones perfume at the next table. Not the street outside, or the air freshener that had at some point wafted in from the kitchen behind me.

The problem was I only smelled it every so often as I talked, or turned my head in a certain direction.

I sniffed around a bit, trying not to look conspicuous as I did so. I had no luck in locating it.

Then, I reached over towards the ketchup, and was hit with odor again. Not unpleasant, but not refreshing either. Pleasing only in the sense that it reminded me of something that was mostly positive.

I moved the ketchup to the side, and breathed in. There it was again. I turned my head, and realized where it was coming from. There was a small wooden beam on the wall, painted white. Ignoring any pretense of avoiding odd stairs, I leaned into the wood and smelled it.

Bingo. It was, without a doubt a source of the smell. And the more potent the smell, the more potent the memory.

One would always smell that strongest back at Marietta just as one was entering the dressing room. It was present in lesser quantities in other areas of the theatre, but the dressing room was where it reigned. Being such a part of the experience of being there, i did not, back in my students days, ever stop to wonder what may have been causing it. It was just...how the theatre/dressing room smelled. As I said, it didn't stink.

So I suppose it must have been either the wood, the paint, or a combination in the dressing room that had caused the aroma. A combination that, it would seem, was present in the small wood pieces on the wall of this eatery.

I don't know what kind of wood it was. Not cheap, I can say. I have sense determined that it was probably the same paint/wood/combo that comprised the dressing tables in the dressing room back at school.

Not that it matters. The point is the conspiracy of potencies that took place last night. Potent memories of a potent time, brought about by the first experience with a rather potent smell that I have encountered since last I left said dressing room. With it's piles of clothes being worked on...forgotten scripts, endless half used make up tubes, posters, sewing machines...and of course friends.

Funny how the mind chooses to remember.

1 comment:

Kris said...

I had a friend in college who associated the fragrance of "Sea Breeze" (an astringent used by oily faced teenagers at the time) with dressing rooms. LOTS of Sea Breeze around in those days.