I can smell bullshit a mile off. A person can do all the reading and all of the Youtubing they want – some things can’t be faked. Journalists will write about the history of the Great Pyramid of Khufu, but I can tell that they’ve not been inside, that they haven’t felt the sweat of tourists run down its four and a half thousand-year-old walls. Nor is such fakery limited to sunburnt tourists and more-money-than-sense septuagenarians. I’ve lost count of the number of lithe young things ironically wearing Beatles or Rolling Stones t-shirts. Scream all you want at Summerfest – in the seventies I was close enough to smell the sweat from Mick’s vest and to see the gleam of his back teeth as he attacked the microphone. Back then us ladies knew how to swoon.
That’s how I can pick out the fakers. It is always the unexpected sensual experience that stays with a person. It was exactly this way with us. Where I was expecting the rich aroma of coffee in my nostrils on our first date, I was instead assaulted by a scalding sensation on my tongue and the sound of your stifled laughter as you checked if I was alright. When I was expecting the taste of lager as you kissed me underneath the Christmas lights in George Square, in its place I remember your chilled, rough hands in the small of my back.
Senses, then, are winsome. They are flighty. Emotions, conversely, are much easier to label. I felt nothing but joy as I saw you turn and smile at me from the altar, only gut-twisting misery when you left me for my best friend less than a year later. Similarly, I was unable to multilaterally process the news that you had careered off the country road with your new partner on that clear, frosty January night. Perhaps I simply do not have the emotional capacity to process competing emotions simultaneously. I am a single input, single output computer. The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel elicits wonder. The thought of spending my remaining years alone prompts terror. Driving by the twisted remains of you and your fancy woman’s car? Nothing but glowing satisfaction.
Give me senses over emotions any day. My mind is multi-layered where sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell are concerned. I savoured it all – the smell of the grease and the oil as I slithered underneath your BMW, the shock running up my arms as the brake pipes snapped, the bitter taste of adrenaline under my tongue as I made off under the streetlights…
Yeah, senses win by a mile and like I say, I could smell bullshit from the moment we met.
Matthew Richardson is a writer of short stories. His work has featured in Gold Dust magazine, Literally Stories, Near to the Knuckle, McStorytellers, Penny Shorts, Soft Cartel, Whatever Keeps the Lights On, and Shooter magazine. He is an absentee member of the Glasgow Writers Group, a PhD student at the University of Dundee, a lucky husband, and a proud father.
Not necessarily in that order.