I thought it would be something like the genetic aversion to the taste of cilantro. You know, how some people think cilantro tastes like soap. I don’t get it, but there is an entire website devoted to hating cilantro
I could find no such thing in regards to lilacs. No study finding genes that would influence my perception of their aroma. In fact, ihatelilacs.com is an available domain, as are .info and .net…so, maybe I am alone in this? A genetic anomaly?
It was such a sweet gesture, though. He brought bouquet after bouquet of them inside, our first Spring in the farmhouse. I guess I had never really noticed lilacs before, not on the west coast, but after getting through a long Vermont winter, they were the first blooming thing we saw (that wasn’t yellow), and well, they happened to be breathtakingly beautiful after the cold and the white and the brown branches…and here, here were mason jars full of them in several shades because -oh joy!- they were prolific around our new home…dark, medium and light purple blooms. Even the snow-white flowers were gorgeous, set against the deep green leaves.
He was full of delight at their beauty, placing them in the kitchen, on the dining table, in the bedroom, everywhere. “Lilacs are just incredible,” he told me. But, I…I hardly noticed them for my sudden and consuming obsession of figuring out where the heck the cat was pissing.
“What do you mean you can’t smell it?” I asked him. “It’s, like, all over the house. In every room! I just don’t get it…it’s not like Enki. He must be anxious about something.” The smell was overwhelming…why couldn’t I find it??!?
The smell was stronger where the bouquets were placed. How odd. No…wait a minute. It was all becoming clear. I asked him why he didn’t just tell me it was the flowers all along. Why did he humor me, looking around for puddles of cat piss? He looked at me like my hair just changed color or something. I thought, oh my God, he thinks they smell NICE.
Crestfallen. Now he wants to remove them from the house. No, no, no. I can deal with it. They’re pretty. Pretty nauseating. No, just pretty. He thinks they smell a little like roses, but more…oh, what was the word? Intoxicating, yes that’s it. And then I realize that I’ve never particularly cared for the smell of roses, either, as lovely as they can be.
It takes me a while to convince him it’s okay to leave the lilacs be. I’m just glad we don’t have an annoying problem going on with the cat, I tell him. And in a few days they’ll wither and I can take them out to the compost.
There’s a lilac where we live now. It’s the first really spectacular bloom of the season for us, since we have only a few tiny stalks of forsythia that don’t get enough light. I admire it from the sliding door, and the bees admire it, too. It really is beautiful, but he never tries to bring the blooms inside anymore.
The other day I went out for a morning run, and there is a house I sometimes pass that is completely surrounded by mature lilacs. I counted them: nine, each of them easily 10 times as large as the one beside our deck. When the aroma hit my nostrils I nearly swooned with the nausea it induced. How awful to see such beauty and feel so sickened by it!
I got home, and our lilac tree seemed puny dainty, in comparison. A jar or two’s worth of clippings could not take me down the way that cluster of giants did earlier. I can make this sacrifice.
I bring a bouquet in and place it on the dining table.
Another, I put in our bedroom.
He notices the gesture, and is moved.
I love you more than avoiding nausea, my dear.