I flipped through the TV channels, kind of paying attention as I worked on the laptop. I heard the song Louie, Louie being sung on a PBS show about songs from the past– aka, my youth.
I looked up for a moment and saw a group of seasoned band members singing this song which was really popular when I was in junior high school. It was a time when young teens were quite naïve and innocent compared to those today. Not a judgment, just a fact. The music caught my attention and I tried to listen carefully to see if now, as an adult, I could figure out just what was being said. At the time the song was catching everyone’s attention back in the day; part of the attraction was the rumor that the words were indecent. If so, even all these years later I can’t understand them well enough to know. Actually, I was just enjoying the memories that the song brought back. Interestingly enough, they were closely tied to the smells of the time.
I recall growing up in a suburb of Kansas City and going to basement rec rooms with wood-paneled walls and the lights turned down. Small groups of boy and girls gathered for music, talk, dancing, and just hanging out. There were no cigarettes, no alcohol, and no drugs. The boys smelled of newly acquired colognes like Brut and English Leather. The girls had Prell shampooed hair which was dried (without a hair dryer) and ironed with a real iron until it hung straight as the paneling on those basement walls. We cleaned our skin with Bonnie Bell products which had a distinctive smell and put on a little Bonnie Bell lip gloss to make us look glamorous. Even the lip gloss had its own smell. The fragrances of choice for us at the time were Chantilly, Tabu, and Emeraude. I liked Emeraude. Apparently the boys liked the girls with Tabu the best. The Tabu girls got asked to dance more often. As an adult I can understand that the name and the smell of this fragrance probably should have been an indicator of the different personality types of the girls. Tabu smelled and sounded just so exotic, grown-up and yes, taboo.
After I finished the fragrance filled moments in my mind, I looked up from the laptop to see the audience of folks listening to the band members. Reality set in as I looked at the sea of older adults, some bald heads, lots of white hair, and people who were no longer young teens. They were singing along to Louie Louie with their version of the words and having a good time. They looked like they were having fun, but I was still lost in the moments from the past full of music and smells. Maybe they were too.