The smell of cigarettes and beer

Joan Concilio |

I told a new good friend yesterday that I love the smell of cigarettes – Marlboro Reds, especially – and beer. Which is maybe a little unusual if you know, as he does, that I don’t smoke (and never have), and I don’t drink alcohol (used to; not any more).

As I started to explain why, in the middle of a crowded Red Robin, I felt all kinds of silly. I almost stopped myself, and then the words tumbled out.

All the while I desperately hoped I didn’t sound like an idiot, and in the back of my mind, I just as earnestly hoped that maybe I’d found someone who would understand.

“I like those things because they smell like people,” I mumbled. “And things like campfires. They all make me feel good, smelling them.”

He paused a second, then sat forward, kind of smiling, kind of squinting.

“No, I get that.” Then he told me something else, something that reminds him of people – or more accurately, of the feeling of people.

And I felt a little less crazy. I felt like beer smells and macaroni and cheese tastes. Like something – someone – real.