Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Sweet Scent of Hell

Nature's hand-grenades

A madness descends on America in December — Xmas fever. I use the word “Xmas” deliberately: the X stands for anything dreamed up by marketers as having anything remotely to do with winter, or winteryness. We are used to the lights and carols, to trees and snowmen. But in recent years the moneymen have found a new sense to assault: our sense of smell. Try entering a supermarket without choking through a thick cloud of the monstrous odor emitted by sacks of “scented” pine cones — you have to hold your breath until you reach the safe confines of the fruit section.

This wintery fakery is the result of impregnating innocent pine cones with a hellish combination of cinnamon and “essential oils,” notably peppermint or nutmeg. The idea, it seems, is to infuse the air with the delightful hint of apple pie. The reality is like being sprayed in the face with mace.

Mace and nutmeg grow together.

Mace, by the way, comes form the outer layer of the nutmeg. We all know what mace does to the human olfactory system, which is why it is classified as a weapon. Too much nutmeg, is, in fact poisonous. And if you’ve ever seen some poor dull-witted person subject themselves to the “cinnamon challenge” by attempting to survive a mouthful of the cloying, hot spice…well, you can guess that it too can be a mightily persuasive irritant.

Pinecones in their natural silver state

In the 1970s, pine cones collectively shrugged beneath the indignity of being sprayed with silver paint, because that somehow made them prettier and more winterified.

Now, each and every one of them points an invisible gun at its head to blow its brains out because it’s been rendered into a faux-natural hand-grenade of overpowering sensory detail.

The only thing worse than holding your breath when running the scented pine cone gauntlet at the supermarket is letting your curiosity get the better of you when faced with the packet of “glaze” that comes with your spiral-sliced ham. “Mix with a quarter cup of water,” the directions say, “leave to cool, them pour over ham.”

On no account do this. The grotesque reconstituted molasses this vile concoction becomes smells exactly like the dreaded scented pine cones, only there’s no warning: the packet ingredients only list “cane sugar, canola oil and spices.” Do not trust anything that says “spices.” Remember, mace is a spice. The Spice Girls were a manifestation of the horror that spiciness can inflict upon your person.

Guess what this candle smells like. 

Likewise, avoid wintery candles whose wax or vegetable oil has been infused with the inexplicable aromas of things like “egg nog,” “pumpkin pie,” and “cloves.”

Remember: Xmas is a celebration of all that is toxic in nature: mistletoe, poinsettia, evergreens, and pine cones. Stick to the chocolate. And oranges. And chocolate oranges. 

The real smell of Christmas.

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