Scent and Memory and Mouthwash
Thursday, March 12, 2009

This week I was at a brief in-service regarding Sensory Impairment.

A lot of the kiddos I work with have Sensory Integration issues, and an Occupational Therapist was giving a review of when to make a referral for a sensory evaluation.

It had little to do with the rest of the training, but she briefly mentioned that the same part of the brain that processes scents also deals with memories, explaining in part why smells can trigger such strong memories and emotions.

As she said, "I'm sure most of you have at least one distinct smell that you associate with a person or place", my brain immediately went to:


This stuff is the smell of my childhood hero, my Grandpa.

(You know how the Father in the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding thinks that Windex can solve any ailment? That's just a slight exaggeration of how I think my Grandpa might feel about Listerine. As a kid I knew better than to complain of a cough or sore throat around my grandparents, because no sooner than I opened my mouth, Listerine was being dumped in. That's how I remember it anyway....but I've been known for hyperbole.)

Most people are doing good to gargle with this oh-so-stout mouthwash for the recommended one minute. I can make it about 30 seconds before my eyes are watering and I'm nearly crying out from the pain of my mouth exploding into flame. Jonathan can hang in there for well over a minute, which earns my total respect.

My grandpa, however, is a champion Listerine-swisher. The man can mow the grass, water the lawn, and plant a tree while simultaneously swishing Listerine. He never even grimaces. None of that citrus or vanilla mint stuff either....the original formula with it's notoriously strong flavor is the preferred variety.

My grandpa ALWAYS had Listerine; either somewhere on his person, or tucked in the car door cushioned by the extra napkins that we pulled out of the holders at fast-food restaurants and ended up not using.

As a little girl I knew a couple of things with absolute certainty:

1.) My Grandpa loved me unconditionally.

2.) Up close for a hug or kiss, my Grandpa would always, always have a slight scent of Listerine.

I guess that's why I love the smell of that nasty, potent stuff even now. Somehow, the two things I knew for sure have become forever entwined. I'll be 83 years old, the age he is now, still smiling, feeling warm and cozy when I smell Listerine.

Maybe someday I'll even regularly use the stuff, just to make him proud.....or maybe not.

Anonymous Stephen had this to say:

This makes me think of my grandpa's aftershave he used to use. Skin Bracer I think is the name. I keep a bottle by my sink back home just to smell occasionally.

March 12, 2009 at 6:24 PM 

Blogger Danielle Giffen had this to say:

I remember the smell of your grandparents's a WONDERFUL childhood memory!!! My memory was the smell of listerine and original pert plus-2in1 :) makes my heart smile!!!! Thanks for bringing that up...

March 12, 2009 at 9:19 PM 

Blogger Gonzo! had this to say:

Cool story. There is a word that identifies smell with memory, and or vice versa. Do you know what its called? I have been looking forever. My Grandma used Chanel No. 5. I can identify this fragrance anywhere.

March 13, 2009 at 9:43 AM 

Anonymous Anonymous had this to say:

Jeff just introduced Listerine to Sheridan a few weeks ago....BUT he added water! She loved it....she loves anything and everything her granddad does!!!

March 13, 2009 at 11:17 AM 

Post a Comment

Back To the Main Page

Cliff Familyt

I'm Starr Cliff. A domestically-challenged mom, climbing over mountains of laundry to bring you my stray observations and amusing stories about my kids. (more)



  • Crafts
  • Serious Laundry Lady Posts
  • Food
  • Friends
  • Home Management
  • KidMin
  • Speech Language Pathology


    Design by: soapbox.SUPERSTAR