Siphiwe Online
Posted on 25/05/2016 by S'phiwe on Pointless

Of smells, scents and race …

You can tell whether¬†someone is black or white based on their natural scent, right? Anyway I think I can, even when it’s mixed with cologne.

Yesterday I sat next to a white guy as we waited for the start of the conference we were attending. My cell was on vibration mode so that I don’t miss any incoming messages/calls. As a rule, no notification goes unnoticed or unread in my life, and the ability to customize which app sends me notifications (and how they do it) is one of the many things I look for whenever buying a cellphone.

Anyway, every time I attended to a notification, I felt this warm air on my neck, accompanied by a black person’s natural scent. The first time that happened, I paused in confusion before turning to see what that was about and there was a black guy in the row behind ours, making his way towards the exit. I thought it was weird that he’d leaned over so closely when passing behind me, that I felt his breath on my neck but when I felt it a few more times afterwards, I decided that I’d make an abrupt turn the next time it happens so I get to the bottom of what was going on. Then it happened: cell vibrated, I attended to it, warm air gently blew on my neck; and I turned in the direction of the warm air and there was no black head getting ready to peek into my cell – only the white fellow next to me appeared to have been sitting with his same old straight face until I gave him the animated look. We had a necessarily awkward split second of exchanging nonverbal expressions that went something like this:
Me: “WTF Dude, seriously!?!” (Feeling justifiably annoyed)
Him: “I’m confused… ”
Me: “No wait, that WAS YOUR hot breath on my neck, right?” (Wondering if I shouldn’t just lean over and smell his scent as evidence)
Him: “What are you talking about?”
Me: “Who else could that have been?” (Looking around)
Him: “Should I fight this idiot or just run for my life?” (Breathing heavily)
Me: “I apologize man!! No I don’t know either, just forgive me! It’s complicated! Gee, I must look very weird right now!… ”
In the middle of my apology frenzy, the sound system comes on and a voice says “Ladies and gentlemen, apologies for the delayed start. We have an unexpectedly high turnout and have decided to have the same presentation in the room next door in parallel so that…”
By this point in the announcement, I was settling down in the next room and trying the eastern meditation technique I heard of from a psychologist friend a few months ago, which involves slow, deep breathing; then I thought I caught a whiff of that black scent again while inhaling, along with the warm air on my neck so I looked around – to discover that the whole thing was that whenever I tilted my body at a particular angle, my scarf would let in a puff of warm air from under my clothes (probably something to do with the many layers of clothes that I was wearing) and somehow it felt like it’s blown onto my neck by some person’s breathing. And the accompanying scent was actually mine!!

Conclusion? I was right about the scent belonging to a black man!