Monday, June 29, 2009

Pearls of wisdom in the strangest places...

There's an oyster house that love to I pass by on the way to work, filled with spraying hoses, the click-clacking of shucking oysters, and the smell of brine that makes my mouth water. The smell is what gets to me the most-- reminding me of nights out with friends, parties and weddings and good times covered in lemon and horseradish. I think of full stomachs and the smell of the sea.

But what reaction does that smell elicit from the people who work in that oyster house? Does it remind them of being wet and filthy all morning? Or of the pain in their hands, the cuts and the cracking skin? Where I associate the smell with fun and games, to others the smell is closely tied to their livelihood. There's probably an oyster-shucker or two out there who never want to eat an oyster ever again, unable to smell them without thinking of early hours and taking three showers to get the smell off.

Before this morning I never really thought much about the oyster-shuckers, whether they liked to taste the fruits of their labor, or whether familiarity has turned into disgust. I'm sure their reactions run the gamut, and no two oyster-shuckers share the exact feelings on the subject, but at least thinking about it in the first place allows me to be mindful of their distinct point of view regarding oysters.

Well. Lest you think I've gone off the deep-end, let me assure you it's too late for that. ;) But this post was meant to be taken metaphorically. I'll get down off my pile of oyster shells now.


Rebecca Knight said...

It is fascinating how often smell is tied into a specific memory :).

Whenever I smell roses, I think of hanging out in my grandmother's bedroom, playing with her perfume bottle as a child. I was fascinated by that poofy ball that you squeezed.

Or when I smell dusty leather, I think about afternoons I used to spend waiting for the bus in a musty bookshop by the transit center.

Or whenever I smell fry oil, I think about how much I hated working at Wendy's ;).

It's good to remember to use this sense in writing--I think smell is tragically neglected.

Great post!