A Walk in the Woods

Alicia went for a walk with her daughter Morgan to go visit her mom who lived just off the path in the woods.  They were holding hands and singing songs together like ‘Lions and Tigers and Bears’ and ‘Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf’ and Morgan hoped that they would run into the Three Little Piggies, Fifer, Fiddler, and Practical Pig and maybe get to see them building their houses.  Morgan asked her mom why grandma always smelled so bad and her mom said that the woods are musty because of the moisture-rich environment and the extended amount of time that they are exposed to the elements could be the reason.  Alicia told her little girl that when things get damp that they start to decay and mold sets in and since your grandma doesn’t sweep, mop and vacuum as much as she should be doing, maybe we could help her with those things.  Morgan said that it is not grandma’s house that she smells, that it is grandma who has this medicinal old person smell that is always around her.

Alicia knew that her daughter was right and that kids tend to say the darndest things and she told Morgan that her grandmother was taking a lot of medicine, because that is what happens to people when they get old.  Alicia said it is normal for old people to smell because they don’t wash themselves as often as young people, and that as our skin matures, its natural antioxidant protection begins to decline.  This decline results in greater oxidation of lipid acid and that accounts for most of the old people smell that grandma has.  This unique scent that elderly people have, lingers wherever they live and it gets absorbed into any confined spaces they occupy, but most people don’t mind this smell that much, however some do find it unpleasant.  Experts still don’t fully understand how body odor changes with age, but they think that it could be the result of interactions between skin gland secretions and bacteria living on your skin.  Morgan said, “I love grandma, but the bacteria living on my skin is really creepy.”

Written for Sadje at Keep It Alive What Do You See #100.

13 thoughts on “A Walk in the Woods

  1. I thought that this story would be going the Red riding hood way but it’s so ingenious Jim. Tracking us why old people smell they way they do. Thanks for joining in!

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  2. A very unique piece of writing. I am now educated as to why ‘old people rather stink’ (everyone who has a working nose smells .. but that’s splitting hairs). You forgot how that odor (which I loathe) gets into upholstery too. One has to do a spring and fall housekeeping super clean and include the furniture in being cleaned too, or the smell of old people can overwhelm because it saturates the fabric. Me? I use Febreze and several scent atomizers in my own house. Using apple spice or lavender for my choices of scent. I also wear scent myself, because I can smell that odor on myself these days and that was a distinctly unpleasant shock to realize I’ve gotten “THAT old”. 😲😨😱 I associate the odor with old folks’ homes and cat pee myself.

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