Like those corduroy knee patches on my favorite fifth-grade jeans?
Or Portland raindrops spattering coffee in a recycled-paper cup.
How about a faded Pine tree freshener dangling from the radio knob of an RV.
A tuna-noodle casserole in Corning Ware cooling on a Formica countertop?

Maybe a not-so-easy-to-identify scent: Dr. Pepper? Mountain Dew?
I’m kinda hoping for the Burt Reynolds Cosmo spread: Seedy chest-hair musk.
Much better than the doomed Faberge Farrah Fawcett shampoo.
Or summer camp: mosquito repellent, pond scum, crafting with corn husks.

Could he mean organic honey? Or sprouts? Quinoa? Brown rice?
Cereal box cardboard? The cellophane protecting a decoder ring inside?
It had better not be Cheez Whiz. Fluffernutter. Or that strange blue Italian Ice.
I’d rather the waft of a wet Polaroid while attempting to wave it dry.

He might be thinking macramé, bean bags, shag carpeting.
A butterscotch-plaid sofa set. Or its sticky plastic covering?
Rabbit fur jackets. Sun-bleached cowboy boots. Powder-blue velveteen.
Or maybe he smells Shrinky Dinks fresh out of an Easy-Bake Oven.

“Yeah,” he says. “So trippy. Lemme take another whiff.”
“Uh, okay,” I say. “The 70’s? Go ahead—scratch and sniff.”


MICHAEL MONTLACK is the editor of the Lambda Finalist essay anthology My Diva: 65 Gay Men on the Women Who Inspire Them (University of Wisconsin Press) and author of the poetry collections Cool Limbo (NYQ Books) and Daddy (NYQ Books) and three chapbooks. His poems have appeared in North American Review, The Offing, Hotel Amerika, The Cincinnati Review, Prairie Schooner, and Los Angeles Review. His essays have been in Huffington Post and Advocate.com. He lives in NYC and teaches for CUNY and Gotham Writers Workshop.

3 responses to “He says, “You smell like the 70’s.””

  1. Corey says:

    I had forgotten that Polaroid smell. Thanks for the memories.

  2. Michael Montlack says:

    Thanks for reading, Corey. I hope they were good memories. best, Michael

  3. East London says:

    Interesting article, thanks for the info. I believe that you need to be very careful on such trips and watch your safety. By the way, I saw that people who climb very high mountains leave behind mountains of garbage. And it worries me very much. Considering the overall pollution of the planet, this isn’t good.

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