5 Oakland Scents That Double As Perfume
Do you ever walk down the street and smell something, and it’s not gutter piss so you’re inordinately pleased? Contrary to popular belief, cities *can* smell good. They don’t do it all the time and some corners are always reserved for grossness, but nice smells do happen. It’s like a little prize when you encounter one. The following aromas aren’t necessarily specific to Oakland, but they’re city scents that you will definitely find here.
1) Fresh green grass. Okay, I’m not sure there’s a perfume for sale that accurately mimics this scent, or even tries to, but you could roll around on people’s lawns like a dog. Or… just admire the smell while standing up, like a human person. Because you never know what the last dog left there on the grass next to Lake Merritt. Presumably the eight million intimidating geese also poop a lot. (Note to self: keep a picnic blanket in the car.)
2) Coffee. Ever been into those schmancy “Third Wave” cafes in the Temescal? They’re like boutiques for espresso-lovers. I dated a sophisticated barista once, and the experience left me with a vehement hatred of coffee snobs. But I still adore the smell of coffee! With respect to Oakland cafes, my favorite is the Hudson Bay Cafe in Rockridge–but more for their delicious spicy chai lattes than the bean-based brews.
3) Weed and/or tobacco and/or that generic hippie smell, like an amalgamation of incense and mothballs and miscellaneous drug residue. (What does salvia smell like?) Walk into a gallery near 12th Street BART–heck, just stand on the street for 20 minutes–and you’ll get a variation of this mixture, although the precise aroma varies with each gallery. Sk8r joints (pun intended) tend toward straight marijuana, whereas anyplace with crystals will have a hint of patchouli. Regardless, there might be some paint fragrance mixed in.
4) Beer. From microbrews in the hands of techbros who work at startups in San Francisco, to cheap forties sloshing in the hands of your friends, or that one guy who is always on the corner near XYZ Liquor Store nursing his paper-bagged beverage, Oakland can fulfill all your beer-smelling needs. To use it as a perfume, just drink a bunch and then spill on yourself. I HAVE NEVER DONE THAT, I SWEAR.
5) Books and paper. We do have libraries, after all! And I’m pretty sure at least one bookstore still exists. Oakland also has a thriving self-published zine community–hence pure paper–and it’s worth sniffing a freshly printed page. Shoutout to Rock Paper Scissors for keepin’ up Oakland’s zine scene!
That’s five fragrances. I admit, I neglected the “Double As Perfume” part of the title. It was harder to think of good city scents than I expected when I wrote the introduction, especially ones that you can smear on yourself to smell more appealing! Let me know in the comments–what did I forget?