Smell

(Source: Amazon.com)

On Thursday night, The Wife and The Baby were playing with a plastic bouncy ball when it went astray and got caught in our rose bushes. The end result was a two-inch gash in the plastic. A replacement made its way home tonight. As one was chasing the other around the front yard tonight, I caught a whiff of the ball and it brought back memories of the automatic doors opening at Kiddie City/Johnnie Jo Toys/KB and every other toy store from my youth. The odor of the ball brought me back to those days when I would enter the store and get lost in the aisles of toys.

It got me thinking about what the smart people say about scent and memory. From Natalie Angier in an August 2008 article from The New York Times:

Importantly, the olfactory cortex is embedded within the brain’s limbic system and amygdala, where emotions are born and emotional memories stored. That’s why smells, feelings and memories become so easily and intimately entangled…

It’s an impulse that hits me every time I open a Snapple Peach Iced Tea. For me, the smell of a freshly cracked Snapple Peach Iced Tea makes me think of summer.

***

It really goes back to high school. I was a paperboy newspaper carrier, and a lousy one at that. I rarely kept my daily deliveries straight and often times found myself in need of a trip to the corner store to pick up an extra copy or two for delivery. It was around this time that I was listening to a particular weekday conservative radio host who, at the time, was sponsored by Snapple. I ran across their sodas one day at the corner store (Passion Supreme and Cherry Lime Rickey, in particular) and got hooked.

By the next summer (1993), the store was carrying Snapple iced teas and I was basically addicted. That summer, I went to Syracuse University for what I call “journalism camp.” The School Press Institute is a program of the Newhouse School and the Empire State Scholastic Press Association. Being that SU has a seemingly direct pipeline to New York City and Long Island, Snapple was readily available on Marshall Street. It was at SPI that I met one of my oldest and dearest friends. It was a week where I wasn’t Jared Paventi. I was Jared, who was from somewhere around Syracuse. I got to be me without toting around all of the baggage of being me. I got to learn a little bit about journalism, a little bit about life and a little bit about me.

***

Snapple Peach Iced Tea has been, for the lack of a better phrase, my official drink. It’s not particularly healthy and some would say that it does not qualify as tea. But, the telltale crack of the seal and that first whiff of its contents means more than just a drink. It’s the lasso that grabs me from wherever I am and pulls me back to reality, reminding me of the summer when I first figured out who I was and what I wanted to be.

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