During last week’s class discussion regarding the question of what brings people together, many interesting thoughts and ideas were presented. Common interests, proximity, power, and even chance were amongst the several suggestions. But perhaps even more baffling than what brings large groups of people together is what brings two individual people – often out of a diverse group full of countless pairing possibilities – together for what (as Dr. McCoy so eloquently put it) “the sexy sex?”
So I thought, why not wade through all of the emotional, romantic, or even physical possibilities as to why two people are brought together and go chemical on this one? Isn’t it possible that two people are brought together not because of common interests, emotions, or even appearances, but because of how they smell?
Can’t you picture it? The alluring scent of a possible mate wafts across the room at a crowded frat house party…it draws the lady or fellow in so strongly that they follow the scent not quite sure where it is leading them…a freshly baked batch of cookies? The dude on the couch lighting up a joint? No…it’s the scent of their future mate!
So the two link eyes, and they are now one step closer to having not just “the sexy sex,” but “the scentsy sex!”
Alright, stay with me. I am not just speaking from one too many experiences of being captivated by one too many spritzes of cologne…
There is actual scientific evidence that suggests that the scent of a person can determine whether or not another person finds the individual sexually inviting. In one study conducted in 1977 by B. Hold and Margaret Schleidt published in psychology journal Z. Tierpsychol, men and women were instructed to wear a t-shirt for three days without being exposed to any unnatural scents such as cigarette smoke or perfumes. The participants were then instructed to smell the t-shirts of those worn by the opposite sex and rate them from 1 to 7 on factors like “sexiness” and “pleasantness.” Interestingly enough, some individuals rated certain scents at a 7 while others found them deterring or even repulsive. And in another article written by Anja Rikowski and Karl Grammar, it is confirmed that “recent studies on human body odor indicate the relevance of olfactory communication in various social situations . . . the sense of smell apparently has important implications for human sexual behavior.”
This model is both demonstrated and amplified in Fledgling, in which Shori is drawn into an unknown man’s vehicle due to a strong pull which she does not yet understand. When she enters the car, she becomes more aware of how amazing this man smells to her. As she describes in chapter one, “I wanted to get into the car with him . . . Now that I’d had a few more moments to absorb his scent I realized he smelled . . . really interesting.” And you all know what happens next:
This scent-driven attraction concept is just one consideration to add to the list of answers to the question of “what brings people together,” and so far, it seems to be supported by Fledgling. Perhaps the vampire legends (and scientists) are not too far off when they suggest that mates, or in Butler’s case, “symbionts” are, quite literally, sniffed out.