Nothing To Sneeze At

By Charles Alexander
Originally printed 12/5/2013 (Issue 2149 - Between The Lines News)

Parting Glances

In the popular book turned movie, "The Seven Percent Solution", Sherlock Holmes pays an unexpected visit to shrink Sigmund Freud for advice on how to break the detective's cocaine addiction.

While Holme's addiction was fiction, Freud's was factual.

Freud (1856 -1939), who invented guilt by free associating his patient's slips of the tongue and analyzing their dreams for sexual content, was an M.D. He used cocaine when the substance was considered a panacea for almost everything and readily available over the pharmaceutical counter.

Freud got his nasal and cocaine sniffing notions from a neurologist named Wilhelm Fliess, who dabbled in numerology, and believed that men have sexual cycles akin to women's menstrual periods. Fliess also coined the term "bisexual" and said that there is a link between the nose and gonads.

Rewiring the nasal passages - cocaine applications helped - can cure sexual short comings, he suggested. (Cautionary note: Don't try same in public.)

At first Freud was taken with Fliess - admitting to a bisexual crush of sorts - but soon was embarrassed by his colleague's psychological, gonadic post nasal drip. He dropped Fliess like yesterday's unscented Kleenex.

It didn't take Freud long to come to the alarming realization that cocaine use is highly addictive. Fortunately for Freud he was able to gradually wean himself off of cocaine.

(Alas, Sherlock Holmes continued unabated in his usage. His life partner Dr. Watson tolerantly nursed bourbon on the rocks.)

But Fliess was onto something. There is a connection between the nose and the need for the giving or getting nookie. (Take the male silkworm. He can detect and follow 1/10,000th of a milligrams of the female scent up to seven miles away. Whether the trip is worth the flight time is another matter.)

The link between sex and smell was obvious in gay bars of the 1960s. Walk into any one of these aroma outbacks and it was an evening of the strength of my perfume vs. the stamina of your cologne. (Leather bars had other, shall we say lower, standards of odeur expectation.)

I still wear patchouli, which was once the gay man's scent-du-jour. It's inexpensive and smells like fresh laundry drying in the summer sun. (Or, something poetic like that.) Other popular scents were Polo, Canoe, Pepper, with tiny pebbles in the bottle. A few butch dykes wore Old Spice. Femmes, Evening in Paris.

Today the rage is pheromone spray. It's designed for male moths that are attracted to other male moths, usually found fluttering about the same busy, after-hours street lights.

(Scientists have discovered that the human nose can detect over 200 scents. Some LGBT. Yum!)

Thanksgiving I sprayed myself through three quarters of a $30 bottle of pheromones after dinner. I stood a lot. Smiled a lot. Moved about a lot. Nothing happened. I went home alone. Followed by an alley cat of unspecified gender and intentions. I awoke smelling like an unlaced gym shoe.

It seems everybody's olfactory organ had petered out on me.

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