Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Nosy Interview: Beth Mattson

 Beth in Hickson 44 in Leo, © Stephen Leshin [BONUS: Nosy Beth gif!]

Beth and I met in Madison, Wisconsin, on the fourth floor of the Memorial Union, in the Campus Women's Center, where we both worked, and where we shared many a meal purchased from food trucks. In Portland, Beth is lucky to still have plentiful food truck access. Wherever you are, you are lucky to have a bit more Beth access in the form of her website and Little Guy Alive, her zombie preparedness guide. 
What do you smell like?
*Vaseline lotion in bulk from Costco (the same variety that my mom used to buy in a higher price-per-unit volume from a normal grocery), Kirkland Signature laundry detergent (lightly lavender, biodegradable), some bougie Angel Baby Earth Mama coco butter nipple cream, one of several flavors of name brand Chapstick and Oil of Olay sensitive face lotion and sunscreen. I aspire to wear colognes, but the ones I love are out of my price range.

*The diner where I had brunch in this hoodie. The sunscreen I sprayed yesterday before wearing this hoodie. I used to smell like the camp fire that I sat around in this hoodie. 

*The lip ring-turned-stud just below the corner of my mouth smells a little bit like bellybutton no matter how often or with which soaps I wash it diligently. My mouth may be infected with some kind of plague germ that oozes from my interior through the passage of the stud post and into the air around me. I do not enjoy this particular facet of my scent.

*Here's a quick tip: to get a little, tiny insight into what you yourself smell like, not only can you analyze your commonly used products, but you can just press your nose down onto your upper lip. Your upper lip is likely to be tainted by food, make-up and lotion, but in a different way from whiffing your own pits, shoes, excretions or forearm. Combine all these factors together for an impressionist painting of your smell landscape. And pay attention when you first walk into your bedroom or entire house after a long-enough absence -- you sweat all over those sheets and seep all over those halls.

What do you like to smell?
*Water that dripped off of metal: most often found in cities near where dumpsters get rained on -- which makes it a dangerous smell because ... dumpsters. It is heavily into iron, like red meat and spinach. It makes for very, very richly scented puddles. It is really similar to hands right from the monkey bars or a nice set of keys.

*Wounds: I like the smell of a tiny bit of blood -- not enough to be life threatening -- which maybe means I should seriously seriously discuss my iron deficiency with my doctor. Skin always smells nice and you can make sure that a wound is clean by catching whiffs of iodine, triple-antibiotic, hand soap and fresh gauze or adhesive bandages. Also, if somebody trusts you enough to let you sniff their wounds, you get a cozy feeling of being truly loved. I'm not going to lie ... a small amount of pus as a base note isn't half bad.

*Old men in elevators: a grandpa wearing a sweater or button-down shirt in an elevator is usually headed some place vaguely formal, so he has recently showered, shaved and put on clothing that may have lingering traces of his awesome smell from last time he wore it. He is in a confined space that makes sniffing him much easier than when he walks past in an open space with his wife, who usually smells stronger than he does. I wonder if I like a combination of some common old man products -- perhaps Stetson, Gillette and ... what do grandpas use for shampoo? I would investigate the specifics, but no matter how friendly I am, I'm fairly certain that sniffing their faces, necks and wrists is a faux pas and that I would not be able to stop myself at a basic question of "Do you mind if I ask what your cologne is? I love that smell," and I would stumble into "And your shaving cream, sir? Do you use your wife's shampoo? I don't want to presume that you don't help with laundry, but do you know what kind of detergent she uses? What kind of closet, dresser or chest do you store your vaguely formal clothing in?" So I hope to personally replicate their smell through sheer luck.

*Everyday things that I like to sniff: blooming jasmine, lilacs and roses. Food being baked or cooked, for both the pure enjoyment and, more importantly, the technical aspects of whether or not it is finished and which other ingredients it may benefit from. Books, old and new, as I aspire to collect knowledge of binding glue, paper stock and ink type in addition to storage factors such as sun, damp or dust. My baby when he is not covered in his own bodily functions. My partner's armpits and neck, because it drives him slightly nuts and makes him worry about stinking, but of course I love his smell, except when he was made nervous by a power meeting.


Preets said...

So awesome! I know I just said it, but I must say it again: I am glad I saved up all these nosy girl installments to read all at once, because it feels like the very best sort of binge, i.e. not the sort that is going to make me ill afterwards. Water that dripped off metal! The thought makes me want to stick my snout into a puddle right now.

Preets said...

P.S. I always appreciate honesty/openness about bodily functions, so I particularly liked the thoughts about wound smells and base notes of pus, as well as the paragraph about the lip ring. Certain kinds of cheese smell like the insides of belly buttons. If you ate one of those, Beth, you might not be able to distinguish your normal upper-lip smell from your what-I've-just-eaten smell.

Britta said...

Beth: this is awesome. I'm rereading random nosy posts for some inspiration this morning and realize I never commented on how much I love this! I, too, like Preeta, appreciate your honesty about how the body smells. I am particularly interested in these scents... but a little too cowardly to admit what smells my body produces that I secretly enjoy. I'm taking lessons from you!

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