You never know what smells are going to find you as you walk through this apartment building. Someone's pizza delivery. Someone's didn't-quite-all-make-it-down-to-the-basement garbage. Often: wet dog. Which I don't mind. Tonight as I walk Nicholas down the three flights of stairs and out into the lovely grand entryway of the apartment, it's a distinct smoke smell. Something thick and oddly sweet, and my brain instantly says, Papoo. My great grandfather on my mother's side. But is that right? What I'm smelling reminds me of pipe tobacco. Did Papoo ever smoke a pipe? Why did this scent make me think of him?
When I really think of Papoo, I remember mints. Or maybe... butterscotch candies. Some sort of candies he loved to eat and always for sure smelled like when I leaned in to hug him when I visited him when I was very young and he was very old. Sad that I don't even remember which candies anymore. Because I so remember remembering what he smelled like - that lovely visceral memory of him - for so long.
Maybe this pipe smell in the entryway is another of my grandfathers. But I think of Coco, and what I remember is the sharp scent of boat gasoline. Or the sweet of blackberry pies baking in their house. And when I think of Pappaw, what I remember is moth balls.
It suddenly makes me terribly sad to be this far along in my life, to be so far away from the scents of grandfathers.