Friday, January 9, 2015
The Smell of Ink, and Love
What you see is handmade oak gall ink darkening as it dries. Top line: immediate, bottom line, 3 minutes after writing.
Fascinating! I had no idea iron gall ink dried so much darker in such a short time. I knew it darkened but believed it to take weeks.
The first serious writing I did came in longhand. We called them letters, back in the day.
I was always bound "someplace else" and so my communication with young ladies whose acquaintance I might have acquired continued by mail. We wrote. Sometimes we wrote a little.
Sometimes, we wrote a lot.
I remember the young ladies today from their perfume which graced an occasional message.
I remember receiving a letter that had been mangled by the post office so they delivered it in a very nice little plastic bag. Great service.
I put the letter in a briefcase and went about my business for the day.
I opened the briefcase in front of some senior staff and out came a very non-business scent.
I endured more than a little ribbing for that and admitted that yes, it had to be a letter from a young lady I knew which until that instant I had not realized was perfumed. More laughter.
Then the query: "what did she say?"
I admitted I'd been to harried to read it yet.
I was sent away to read the letter with the admonition that anything smelling that much of love must be read immediately. More red-face on my part.
Tastes change with time and women who wear perfume strongly enough for my nose to detect do not use anything from my memory. That's good because for about a decade, if I caught a scent of certain elixirs, I was doomed to that memory.
Now I'm mostly doomed to the memory of where I left my glasses.
I like the smell of certain inks: probably the alcohol and acetone in the drying agents.
Now, if ink smelled of scotch, I'd be turning out more pages. That's for certain.
I don't think my grandsons will ever experience a letter with the perfume of a young girl wrapped around it, unless they are very very lucky.
As I was, a few lifetimes ago.