Because they remind me or trigger me of my family:
- White wine – Nothing triggers me harder than the smell of cheap white wine on someone’s breath. Even the taste of it reminds me of the alcohol my mother chose to obliterate herself with every night.
- Cigarettes – The smell of the first drag of a cigarette has a distinct smell. I smoked a while in college, but long before I ever picked up a smoke willingly, the aroma of my parents’ cigarettes was synonymous with getting in the car. Half the time, they never even rolled down the window until we complained. And this was long after the warnings about second-hand smoke were made public by the surgeon general.
- Second hand clothing – While we were definitely poor, my parents were unnecessarily compulsive about buying clothing at yard sales, determined to get some kind of inexplicable deal. Without regard to how hard it is to grow up with children who can be so cruel, their insistence on buying these and only these lead me to an unnatural aversion to anything second hand.
- Mascara – The only cosmetic my mother uses, for a long time I rejected its use because it reminds me of her. As she aged, she would buy progressively stronger magnifying mirrors to apply this to her face, only to never wash it off, smearing it across her face as she lay drunk across the couch.
- Charlie Perfume/Old Spice Cologne – The perfume/cologne of choice by my mother and father. My husband has even developed a sensitivity to it. Once he told me that he smelled my mother’s perfume in a store and thought she had been following him around. (Which is not totally out of the realm of possibility for her…)
- Tomatoes – Specifically whole tomatoes or uncooked/raw sliced tomatoes. When I was a kid, my mother would buy as many tomato plants as possible, grow as many as she could, and then turn them into sauce. Although I should be clear, we were expected to participate in this week-long stinkfest. For days and days, there would be the stench of simmering tomatoes, the machine she had clamped to the table for breaking them down, and everyone’s hands stinking of the pseudo-fruit since we were all engaged in this process. It’s taken me years to come to terms with it, and to this day, if I accidentally ingest a piece of tomato that’s not adequately broken down, I still gag.
- Kookie leggings/pantyhose – I know these are really popular nowadays, but when I was growing up, it was all my mother would buy for me. Before I ever got a chance to formulate my own sense of style, my mother (and her sister-in-law) would insist on buying me these ridiculous things, and send me into the lion’s den of elementary/middle school where I would be ridiculed for the entire day by the mean kids. Although I begged for neutral wardrobe staples, these weird things were always cheap (because no one wanted them) and I’d be stuck with this, instead of normal tights.
- “Cutesy” nicknames – Specifically the ones that are a play on someone’s name. (I realize the url of my site is one of these, but since it was given to me by a toddler, I don’t count it.) Whenever this was done in my home growing up, it was a method for infantilizing me, even well into adulthood. My parents are practically incapable of addressing me by my real name, and it speaks volumes to the way they truly feel about me.