Smells Like Teen Spirit

Closeup photo of a cow nose.

After my son left for college in late August I occasionally got a whiff (have I mentioned my heightened — the kids call it “freaky” — sense of smell on this blog?) of a smell I associate with adolescent males. The smell was in the family room, near one end of the couch. I assumed that because he spent more time sleeping on the family room couch than in his own bed the couch had absorbed (of course the fact that our family room couch is leather and probably doesn’t absorb odors didn’t occur to me)  some of his odor. It was not an unpleasant smell, and while I never smelled that particular odor on my son, I thought it was nice that it lingered when he was far away.

The Saturday after Thanksgiving we went on our annual over the river and through the woods Christmas Tree hunt (we did go over the river and through the woods but came home without a Christmas tree this year because we left late and the tree farm closed at 4). We made our traditional stop at the Leesburg Antique Emporium and spent an hour or so exploring. Near one of the stalls in the lower level of the store I stopped and sniffed. I distinctly smelled the odor I smelled in the family room. I looked around to see if my son was close-by, but he was in another area of the store. I sniffed, then sniffed again, trying to figure out where the smell was coming from. I finally walked away thinking that my son or another young man must have just been near the stall and the smell was leftover from him (either that or it was from the ghost of a teen age boy).

A little while later I caught up with my son (who had no odor) and daughter (also odorless). As we passed the previously mentioned stall I, once again, smelled the adolescent male smell. This time I asked my daughter if she smelled it. What?, she asked. Teen Spirit, I said, you know — the smell of a teen age boy. She seemed to understand what I meant, and sniffed the air. As my son watched us we sniffed and sniffed. I finally spotted an old clarinet in a disintegrating leather case and sniffed. Bingo. This was the origin of the smell. Both my son and daughter smelled the case and backed away quickly, wrinkling their noses. My daughter said, that’s not what a teen age boy smells like! My son just shook his head. I muttered, maybe it is old teen spit I smelled.

So the other day when I smelled the smell in our family room again, I decided to investigate. It wasn’t the couch. It wasn’t the chair. Wait, could it be the antique musical instrument we have in our family room? I smelled our World Famous Folding Organ. Yep. That was it. Antique musical instruments smell like teen spirit. Who knew?

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