Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sweaty, smelly new theory. (It won't win me a Nobel.)

I said it once. I will say it again. "I have a nose for body odours – other people's, that is. A mere whiff can set me off. They're the bane of my existence, the chief reason why I shudder to board local trains, admittedly a faster mode of getting from point A to point B in Mumbai." And, the more I try to dodge the onslaught of other people's b.o., the closer I'm getting to formulating a new theory that's sure not to win me a Nobel. Based on my keen observation at close quarters of at least two young and desirable women in two totally far-apart georgraphical locations and social milieu, I am tempted to jump to a rather hasty though astonishing conclusion. It would appear that an unpleasant b.o. from a talented male may actually act as a magnet for an adoring female. The Smell Report (page 12) tells us: "On standard tests of smelling ability - including odour detection, discrimination and identification - women consistently score significantly higher than men. One researcher has claimed that the superior olfactory ability of females is evident even in newborn babies." On page 14, there is a distiction made between the male pheromone androstenone and the male pheromone androstenol. The former is stale male-sweat smell (exposed to oxygen for 20 minutes) while the latter is fresh male-sweat smell. The former, avers the study, "is perceived as highly unpleasant by females (except during ovulation, when their responses change from 'negative' to 'neutral')." It seems that women on the pill do not have the same kind of reaction as ovulating women. Smell preferences are also linked with past associations. Be that as it may, I am beginning to wonder if there is another kind of "smell" factor at work here. This smell is "beyond" the band width of the b.o. Could it be the "sweet (sweat) smell of success/achievement"? Could it be a sort of personal "karmic" and/or rites-of-passge-related odour that has the power to nullify the offputting whiff of an offensive body odour or even a physical deficiency? (Remember the grotesquely deformed Quasimodo, the Hunchback of Notre Dame from Victor Hugo's eponymous novel as well as Esméralda, the kind gypsy girl who befriended him?) I know. I know. It could be one of my totally hair-brained theories worthy only of brickbats and scorn. Who knows?