They say that smell is the strongest sense tied to memory. Or at least some deodorant commercial that I remember seeing like 15 years ago said that. And from my very limited life experiences, I guess I would agree with that sentiment. The slightly sour smell of crappy beer reminds me of my senior year apartment; candles remind me of going to the synagogue on Friday nights when I was little; the stank of sweaty clothes reminds me of my high school wrestling room that was always 90 degrees. I don’t really know how or why (because science?), but there are a good number of smells that elicit subconscious reactions from me. It’s kinda weird, but at the same time, it’s kinda cool. I can get excited to go hard just from smelling Miller Lite. I can get hungry for some challah bread just from smelling the burning wax from candles; I can start sweating and feeling upset at everything in life just from doing my laundry – like I said, kind of cool but kind of funky.
Most of these reactions don’t really have an emotional component to them. I’ll have some memory or something, and the only thing that I’ll really feel is nostalgia. There is, however, one smell that has a strong emotional attachment to it. It makes me feel tired, and depressed, and irritated, and hopeless, and just wanting to sit on my couch in my long, white dad socks with my old gray sweatpants and watch reruns of GoT or Bob’s Burgers. It’s the smell of dead leaves and chilly winds, the absence of fresh cut grass and charcoal grills. This is the stench of fall.
I’ve already talked about how summer is by far the greatest season. It’s warm, the sun is shining, Game of Thrones is on, and I can finally wear all the lighter colored clothing that I have that I can’t wear during the winter. And so if summer is the greatest season, it would follow that winter is the worst season: extremities get so cold that they hurt for hours, it’s dark when you go to work, it’s dark when you come home from work, outdoor activities are extremely limited and the list goes on and on. But there is a certain sort of hope that comes along with the winter. As the winter drags on and on, there is always spring to look forward to. You can start planning fun things to do when it’s nice outside: golf, hikes, day drinking, margaritas, just to name a few. You can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Fall, however, does not provide you with this hope. No, fall is the death of optimism and positive outlooks. The days are getting shorter at an alarming rate, the temperature is dropping faster than returners who get hit by the Penn State kicker, and girls are getting more Starbucks and Dunkin’ than Peyton gets HGH (not gonna lie though, his commercials so far this football season have been fire). The summertime is bliss, spring is all about snow melt and longer days, and winter gives you a light at the end of the freezing tunnel. All fall gives you is a bunch of overcast, cold days, and
an extreme shortage of bikini-clad Instagram pics depression about the upcoming winter months.
Granted, I’ll give the supporters of fall the fact that there is finally football again, along with all of the fanfare that comes along with it. We even have post-season baseball, so I can actually watch every BoSox game rather than just constantly refreshing my GameCast. And I’m not gonna lie, I will never complain about ladies in leggings. But let’s be real: would you rather wear flannel and jeans, or shorts and a Hawaiian shirt? Drink ales or margs? Have everything smell like artificial pumpkin flavoring or like fresh flowers and pineapples and barbecued meats? Give me a day that involves vests, Fireball with apple cider and college football, and I will give you 50 better days that involve swim trunks and tanks, frozen alcoholic beverages and local minor league baseball.
I really can’t put a finger on the specific reason that this very distinct smell of fall elicits such a visceral negative reaction. Maybe it’s from my childhood years where the Red Sox would, without fail, manage to crash and burn during this time. Maybe it’s from the intense nostalgia of being in the heart of soccer and football season at this time of year in high school and college before I started the post grad era of individual competitions. Maybe it’s just because I truly love frozen beverages way too much (although, I don’t know if it’s possible to have too high of an opinion strawberry daiquiris). But whatever the reason is, I hate it.
I don’t think it’s coincidence that pretty much all of the events of Game of Thrones take place in autumn. Without spoilers, nearly all of the bad things that have happened up through this point in the series have occurred during the fall. George RR Martin is even calling his final book A Dream of Spring, a title that inspires hope and positive potential and honestly hopefully less of Dorne. If Game of Thrones is the barometer of the real world (there are actually a lot of similarities), GRRM hit the nail on the head with one of his foremost themes: Winter is Coming. .