Old People Smell

Nothing strikes fear in aging baby boomers as the words “old people smell.”  You know what it is.  Maybe you smelled it in your grandparent’s home or the home of an elderly neighbor.  (For purposes of this blog, elderly always means considerably older than me.) I remember it in my old Aunt Mary’s house – musty, slightly like perspiration, old clothes,  like an attic.

It doesn’t come from being dirty. My sister-in-law’s parent’s home had it too. Maybe a contributing factor is wearing sweaters and wool clothes too long between cleanings but it’s not from not bathing.

I don’t know when it starts.  It’s probably like other house smells.  It starts so gradual that you never know you have it. With three cats, I always worry that my house smells like cats. Not enough to get rid of the cats but enough to buy candles, plug-ins, the reed thingies in the bottle – you name it, if it promises to smell good, I buy it. In our last renovation we built a room I call the “cat bathroom.”  Yep, it’s enclosed with a cat door and has an exhaust fan and it’s located in the basement.  Don’t let the basement part fool you, it is an upscale cat potty!

But I am not convinced so I ask unsuspecting visitors, “Does it smell like cats in here?” What good-natured visitor would tell me the truth? Of course I always pick visitors with pets or people like my brother who can’t smell anything.

If I wanted the truth, I would ask a child. They have a way of blurting out the most vivid truth in words that are not subtle. My grandniece Karen once told me my house stinks.  Just like that.  “Your house stinks.” Fortunately, I was considerably younger (so I wasn’t worrying about old people smell) and I happened to be frying cabbage at the time. At this point, she is too old to be that blunt or truthful so there is no point in asking her about the cats. Oh, yes, she also has cats.

Of course, maybe I really don’t want to know. Maybe it’s in the genes.  My mother’s house never smelled of old people and she lived to see 75. Her house had wonderful cooking smells almost all the time. Maybe that’s the answer!  Cook more, sweat less and don’t wear wool!

17 thoughts on “Old People Smell

  1. Last summer I was working out with my boot camp at the North Catty playground. The park was of course buzzing with kids all over the place. We had a group of about 10 of us working out next to the jungle gym area. A small group of girls lines up and is watching us. One girl says to the other – “What are they doing?” The other little girl responds “They’re trying to not be fat!” It was hilarious. All I was thinking was – One day kid, you’ll try not to be fat too! Hahahaha! And the fact that that would have probably been me when I was little. Too funny.


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  5. Thank you for letting me know about the broken link. I think I fixed it but when it come to technology I only know enough to be dangerous. Please let me know if that still doesn’t work.
    I find the support search feature to be very helpful when I am having trouble. In the grey bar at the top of each page, the drop down menu on “Me” has an option “Get Support”.


      • Ha ha so true! BTW I nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award. Go to my blog post “Lucky me” for more information. I really do enjoy your writing. I wish you luck on this blog. I had an increase in blog traffic after I got this. It is always more fun to write when you know somebody will read your work. The support and encouragement you receive here is so precious.


        • Thank you. As a new blogger, I find I get really needy for someone, anyone, to give approval. I’d like to say I am writing this strictly for me but I love the positive feedback. I have found so many really great writers out there and it’s been fun and has almost turned into a full time job! By the way, I tried to find your blog early on when I saw you visited. The link wasn’t working and then I ended up on a wrong blog that hasn’t been used in a while. Based on my last go round with the attempt to download a picture,it may have been something I did but I am glad that you gave me your blog name. I really like the name too. Can’t forget that one!


  6. This post is a rip…sad but true. I’m taking your advice: “Cook more, sweat less and don’t wear wool!” I’ve got 2 out of 3 in the bag…just have to start cooking more! At my aunts, I remember a lot of closets smelling like moth balls. I don’t think you can cook that smell away, can you?


  7. Sadly I do not remember saying that but I believe it. Oh the things that my mom told me I said when I was little! And don’t take it personally. I still tell Michelle and Jenn that their places stink when they are making cabbage too. So it’s obviously the cabbage and it wasn’t you. 😉


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