In the movie “The Ten Percent Solution” master sleuth Sherlock Holmes visits shrink Sigmund Freud for some desperate psychoanalytical advice on how to break a cocaine addiction.
(Whether Holmes’ up-the-nosegay 10 Percenter is occasioned by sharing close flatmate quarters with his amanuensis Dr. John H. Watson, at 221B Baker Street, is left up to the viewer’s imagination or wishful thinking.)
Although Holmes is fictional – the creation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – who actually did believe in the existence of garden fairies – Freud (1856 to 1939), innovator of guilt riddance through free association and dream interpretation, was a bona fide MD.
(Ask anyone with an unresolved oedipal complex, presently paying a therapist $150 an hour.)
Freud himself used cocaine at a time when its use as a panacea for many human ills was legal. He soon learned that cocaine is addictive, but was fortunately able to stop its usage in time. (Unlike contemporary Dr. William Halstead, famous in the 1880s for introducing life-saving surgical and gowning procedures to hospital operating theaters. Halstead’s use proved to be a lifelong curse.)
Time now to blow the nose, so to speak, on Freud. He actually had something of a fixation for the nose and its place in the grand physical, mental, sexual scheme of things. (Break out the Handiwipes! Mary.)
Freud borrowed these nasal notions from a neurologist named Wilhelm Fliess, who dabbled in numerology, and believed that men had sexual cycles like women’s menstrual periods. (As for my own sexual cycles: they seem to come and go.)
Fliess coined the term bisexual, and said there’s a link between the nose and gonads. Rewiring the nasal passage can cure sexual shortcomings, said Fliess. At first, Freud was taken with Fliess, admitting to something akin to a crush, but was soon embarrassed by his colleague’s, er, wacky post-nasal drip, and dropped him.
But Fliess was on to something. There is a connection between the nose and gonads; and getting scent-induced nookie was obvious in gay bars of the 60s and 70s. Walk into any one of these aroma outbacks and it was a contest of the strength of my perfume vs the stamina of your cologne. (Leather bars had other, albeit ruffian, standards of aromatic conflict.)
I still wear patchouli, which long ago was once “the scent du jour”. It’s inexpensive and smells like fresh laundry drying in the summer sun. Other popular scents were Polo, Canoe, Pepper, Gravel, with pebbles in the bottom of the bottle. A few butch dykes (no doubt on limited fashion budgets) sported Old Spice.
Today’s rage is phenomone spray. It’s designed for male moths that are attracted to other male moths – usually found fluttering about the same busy streetlights. (In 1989, scientists discovered that the nose has a vomeronasal organ that can detect over 200 human scents.)
Recently I sprayed myself through three-quarters of a $30 bottle
of phenomore content. I stood a lot, smiled a lot, moved about a lot. Flapped a lot. Spreading phenos. Nothing happened. I left alone, followed by an alley cat of unspecified gender and intention.
I awoke smelling like an unlaced gym shoe. Its seems everybody’s vomeronasal organ had petered out on me.