Metatalktail Hour: Good Place Smells January 12, 2019 5:55 PM   Subscribe

Good Saturday evening, MetaFilter! This week, inspired by the return of The Good Place, I want to know what your Good Place would smell like! For those who are not fans of the show, The Good Place smells like your favorite smell in the world. "(Quick rundown: Eleanor—her favorite childhood water park; Chidi—warm pretzels/moral truth; Jason—Blake Bortles winning the Super Bowl, plus weed; Tahani—the curtain being closed between first class and the rest of the plane.)"

As always, this is a conversation starter, not limiter, so feel free to talk about whatever's up with you!
posted by Eyebrows McGee to MetaFilter-Related at 5:55 PM (121 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

The old gift shop at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (the one that used to be by the lily ponds and the conservatory) had a pleasantly musty damp smell that I can't describe. Now it's been replaced by a big new heavily air conditioned shop with no interesting smell at all.

But what I miss most is the smell of (invasive) eucalyptus and rosemary and all the fragrant native plants of the Bay Area where I grew up and hardly ever go any more.
posted by moonmilk at 6:03 PM on January 12 [4 favorites]

If Chidi can smell absolute moral truth.... I want to partake of of that sensation when you encounter something so perfect, so well turned out it must have been left there just for you.

Stephen Fry was talking about something similar, and did so more evocatively, in his forward to Salmon of Doubt
Douglas has in common with certain rare artists (Wodehouse again included), the ability to make the beholder feel that he is addressing them and them alone: I think this in part explains the immense strength and fervour of his ‘fan base’, if I can use so revolting a phrase. When you look at Velazquez, listen to Mozart, read Dickens or laugh at Billy Connolly, to take four names at random (it always takes a great deal of time and thought to take names at random for the purposes of argument), you are aware that what they do they do for the world and the results are, of course, magnificent. When you look at Blake, listen to Bach, read Douglas Adams or watch Eddie Izzard perform, you feel you are perhaps the only person in the world who really gets them. Just about everyone else admires them, of course, but no one really connects with them in the way you do. I advance this as a theory. Douglas’s work is not the high art of Bach or the intense personal cosmos of Blake, it goes without saying, but I believe my view holds nonetheless. It’s like falling in love. When an especially peachy Adams turn of phrase or epithet enters the eye and penetrates the brain you want to tap the shoulder of the nearest stranger and share it. The stranger might laugh and seem to enjoy the writing, but you hug to yourself the thought that they didn’t quite understand its force and quality the way you do – just as your friends (thank heavens) don’t also fall in love with the person you are going on and on about to them.
posted by mce at 6:17 PM on January 12 [9 favorites]

I thought about this a lot when I watched the episode last night. I think mine would be the dry, juniper-y air in some parts of southern Utah that shoots a straight dagger of beloved grandfather/childhood summers/college breaks into my shriveled heart (there’s exactly one gin I will drink, the Ebb and Flow from Sound Spirits in Seattle, and it it smells *exactly* like this to me). We’d combine it with the cold winter smell of skijoring successfully at 15mph behind my ridiculous dog and *having him successfully “on by” another dog without sniffs for the first time because it turns out he uses a different, better, brain for pulling activities than other activities.
posted by charmedimsure at 6:22 PM on January 12 [5 favorites]

My mom and I went to my grandad's in November and, when I got home, my clothes smelled like a combination of his house and his laundry detergent. I don't know what his house smells like--when I was little, I would have said "England" and now I'd be tempted to say "dust", but it has always smelled the same, even when he could see well enough to maintain the house, so I don't think it's dust. And the entire country obviously doesn't smell like my grandad's house, but it's this place I have this intense connection to in a way that it defines the entire country for me. When I was in high school, and my grandad would come stay with us, he'd give me a hug at O'Hare and say "See you, kid". Somewhere along the line, he stopped doing that, this unsaid acknowledgement that every parting was possibly the last one. He's conceded that he really shouldn't be living on his own in this house he can't maintain in a town with ever-vanishing services and has put his name down for an assisted living place near my uncle. So leaving this time had this further cloud hanging over it--that even if he keeps going for another 10 years (and he honestly might, knock on wood), we might never return to this house. And so I found at home myself simultaneously wanting to wear the shirts I'd washed at grandad's because they smelled of his house and him (well, his laundry detergent) and not wanting to wash them so that I could keep that smell.
posted by hoyland at 6:25 PM on January 12 [10 favorites]

that plastic smell from 80s toys that's probably very toxic
posted by prize bull octorok at 6:27 PM on January 12 [7 favorites]

When I was a kid, they had these scented Strawberry Shortcake dolls. I only had two of them. Strawberry Shortcake herself smelled like a nuclear site awash in strawberry pancake syrup. But then there was her little friend Apricot. Oh, Apricot! She smelled like sunshine and melon, like a free swing on the swingset on a blue sky day, like the best grade on the spelling test.

I never even played with her. I'd just sit quietly and smell her head.
posted by mochapickle at 6:33 PM on January 12 [22 favorites]

I can't choose specifically because I love both smell and variety so much so it would have to be that every movement would stir up the aroma of something extraordinary and special, so I could walk along constantly being delighted by one of these: the smell of my husband's neck; the northern Pacific Ocean in a wild storm; old bookstores; leather; my cello; and that warm weather feather smell of gravel roads on the Colorado Plateau being driven down by my BFF with all of our other best scientist friends and me crammed in a pick-up, all of us women with sweat stained ball caps, tank tops, and sunglasses on, windows open and elbows out, kind of grimy after a day of geophysics, geology, and paleontology, the wind blowing our hair, and our faces rosy from windburn and the setting sun and the red rocks around us while we look at the scenery and sing along to the Strumbellas' song "Wild Sun" several times in a row.
posted by barchan at 6:34 PM on January 12 [5 favorites]

Cut grass. Marijuana smoke. Stale beer. Patchouli.

The college quad on the first warm day of spring.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 6:34 PM on January 12 [3 favorites]

The yeasty smell of fresh-baked bread. Or hope.
posted by Fig at 6:36 PM on January 12 [10 favorites]

∆ that was supposed to be hops. I'll leave hope, because I'm sure that smells nice too.
posted by Fig at 6:37 PM on January 12 [24 favorites]

The smell of fresh ice cream cones would be right up there for me, I think.

Also--I used to live in Malawi, and while I have no particular desire to live there any longer, I occasionally yearn for the smell of the rainy season there.

Also, my Bad Place smell would probably be old crayons. I fucking hate the way old crayons smell. Gross.
posted by duffell at 6:37 PM on January 12 [3 favorites]

When I catch the smell of wet wood chips in urban landscape contexts (flowerbeds, etc), I am transported to a west coast rain-forest and I would love to have that smell around me all the time.
posted by sylvanshine at 6:38 PM on January 12 [6 favorites]

I was inspired by the recent Dr Bronner's thread to buy a jug of peppermint soap because it was on sale at the bodega. Underneath the bright minty smell it has a really severe, old fashioned smell that lingers much longer. It makes me think of strict schoolmasters and tough-looking nurses in sepia-toned photographs, or something you'd paint on your horse if he got a rash. It's not bad, exactly, just, um, severe and old fashioned!
posted by moonmilk at 6:41 PM on January 12 [5 favorites]

Lapsang souchong, for me, with a hint of lavender and a bit of freshly opened book.
posted by platitudipus at 6:44 PM on January 12 [5 favorites]

moonmilk's comment reminded me of this question! I'm changing my answer to Juliette Has a Gun's Not A Perfume perfume.
posted by Fig at 6:47 PM on January 12

My Good Place would be out in the middle of the woods, so: pine trees and campfire smoke plus probably something tasty simmering away over the coals.
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:50 PM on January 12 [7 favorites]

i go to seattle every year in april, and walking off the plane i smell pine, sea salt, diesel, lilacs and wet concrete, what is Petrichor but w/ concrete?
posted by PinkMoose at 6:52 PM on January 12 [5 favorites]

Toss up for me between this perfume my mom used to wear when I was little when she went out for fancy things, they stopped making it around 1990, and baby's head.

Although I went to college downwind of an ethanol factory and the smell of ethanol cooking gets me in the happy feels every time, so that'd be a close third -- and, happily, something I get to smell from time to time living, as I do, in corn country!
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 6:59 PM on January 12 [5 favorites]

San Francisco is full of good smells. After it rains (today was a break from the storms) there is the usual petrichor but with an added... yeastyness? I like to imagine it's the Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis on the wind that makes our sourdough so good. We're a household that is super allergic to artificial scents so to me the unscented tide detergent smells quite strongly but nice, and so does our dish soap. I just made a stir fry that turned into more of a stew that smelled like soy glaze and Gochujang. But my mother used to wear a scented lotion called "beautiful cream" from Este Lauder? I think? and I'll always remember that smell.


It goes without saying that my garden smells fantastic. After a rain everything has this lovely "green" smell- and all the usual city smells wash away. Even the overpass I take to get to the LRV (which usually smells... like excrement) smells good after a rain like this. I had a boring day last Sunday taking pictures of wet plants during an hour break in the wet- boring but nice, looking at all the wonderful plants the rain was watering for me. There are downsides to a downpour, number one being after a straight week of rain, nutrients can get washed out of the soil very easily. So I took some fish emulsion and watered some of the plants with it this week, just in case. It's winter, too many nutrients are unnecessary but with THIS MUCH RAIN... and it's going to continue. This Thursday however I did a lot more than take pictures of wet plants. We had a full day's break from the rain so I decided to get busy. I pulled the two old pepper plants, I replanted my dying Lovage, and I pulled my dying Blue Basil plant, which sadly was not surviving the winter. It was one of those days where my Mom showed up in the garden just to figure out why I had been there so long. I managed to get a very arty picture of a mushroom in the process. That's kinda bittersweet because I remember when I had to pull all mushrooms after a storm so the silly bee eater wouldn't die of mushroom poisoning because she was that kinda of idiot dog. Now that she's passed I'm letting the mushrooms be. I picked some swiss chard today, and I sowed some more swiss chard in the pots that used to have peppers. The leeks and green onions are growing well, as is the baby dill. Honestly everything looks amazing- just wet. It's a good time of year for San Francisco gardens, that's for sure.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 7:04 PM on January 12 [7 favorites]

The ocean, New England coastal style. Clean and rocky.

The lovely, sweet, a little punk rock woman who has cut my hair for the last six years is moving away and we said goodbye today. She’s headed to Nova Scotia. She’ll have that smell now.
posted by wellred at 7:17 PM on January 12 [9 favorites]

Hot pine! Being in the Northwoods on a hot summer day, but cooler under the thick pine canopy. I think pine smell is usually associated with cold, but I like it when its piney and hot.

That and puppy breath. And cucumbers! Puppies with cucumbers in the Northwoods on a hot summer day.
posted by Gray Duck at 7:33 PM on January 12 [4 favorites]

My good place smell would be the Fern Room at the Garfield Park Conservatory on a dark day in late February/early March after an unrelenting onslaught of Chicago wintertimes.
Don't get me wrong, I love a good harsh winter, but the sensory relief of high density greenery, humidity and beauty is one of the best things possible.
An evocative smell, that otherwise makes me feel centered and good: the north branch of the Chicago river/ skokie lagoons. A little bit sewage, a little bit duckweed rot, but distinct, and familiar and present at all nasal junctions. Not a great smell, per se, but I always know where I am when I smell it.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 7:36 PM on January 12 [4 favorites]

The buds and new leaves of cottonwood trees.

My Bad Place smell would be root beer. Or Twizzlers.
posted by Redstart at 7:42 PM on January 12

My Bad Place smell would be cat pee and burnt popcorn, confusion and stress. So, my first apartment in college.
posted by Gray Duck at 7:48 PM on January 12 [3 favorites]

oh, bad place smell is microwave popcorn, with a faint odor of fish.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 7:51 PM on January 12 [2 favorites]

I know I should let fresh bread cool, but I can't resist the warm waft of comfort from the first slice of honey whole wheat bread, with its swirl of brown sugar and cinnamon.
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:53 PM on January 12 [3 favorites]

The smell when it's just about to snow. The smell of spring rain through an open screen window. Honeysuckle on a warm spring day. Cucumbers, yes! Cut grass. The smell that wilderness in Sonoma County gets in spring -- I don't know what it is, maybe eucalyptus and bay and rosemary and wild fennel and something about the dirt. The smell of a barrel room at a winery. Bourbon. Baked potatoes juuuust ready to come out of the oven. Pine trees in the cold. Mulch in the spring. Wood, especially cedar but really all wood. Old books. Sweaty horses in leather tack. Wet moss on rocks. The Pacific ocean on a cold rocky beach. Cats.


I have started my new job and it's weird but good. Previous promotions have been basically "Keep doing what you're doing, maybe a little more, and we'll pay you more." This one is really a big shift in responsibility and assumed knowledge. Everyone's being really nice about the fact that I don't know a lot of stuff right now, and I'm sure I'll figure those things out, but I'm needing to tamp down some panic most days. Though I also feel such a sense of freedom at getting away from my old boss that it's unreal. I had lunch with my new colleagues on Wednesday and it was like I could breathe easily again; I didn't have to pretend I wasn't smart or have to brace for any weird passive-aggressiveness for being smart and knowledgeable. I think this is going to be a good move in some ways, though it also takes me pretty firmly out of direct client contact, which makes me sad. But staying where I was was going to do me in, so... this is good, overall.
posted by lazuli at 7:54 PM on January 12 [9 favorites]

My good place smell would be the Fern Room at the Garfield Park Conservatory on a dark day in late February/early March after an unrelenting onslaught of Chicago wintertimes.

Oh! My parents used to take my brother and me there every winter when we were little and that sentence just brought that smell back. Thank you!
posted by lazuli at 7:55 PM on January 12 [1 favorite]

'Absolute moral certainty' would turn me into the worst version of myself so congrats to Chidi on being an actual better version of himself in its thrall. Anyway the best non-sexual smell is when you stuff a dozen or so batteries into an RC car in 1990 and take it for a rip around your grandparents' kitchen. Quickly-draining Duracells and new plastic is Christmas heaven.
posted by Space Coyote at 7:56 PM on January 12 [2 favorites]

Salt air. Just smelling salt air makes everything feel better.
posted by KazamaSmokers at 8:01 PM on January 12 [6 favorites]

Hot boxing in moms Mercedes.
posted by clavdivs at 8:02 PM on January 12 [5 favorites]

Any smells from the Central Oregon high desert: sagebrush, Ponderosa pine needles, Juniper trees after a heavy summer rainstorm. It's all my happy place.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 8:02 PM on January 12 [3 favorites]

Nice clean sheets I'm snuggling into as I fall asleep.
posted by the primroses were over at 8:05 PM on January 12 [7 favorites]

Sun-dried sheets. Wood smoke on a snowy day. Really fresh apples. This funky oatmeal soap I don't know the brand of because it comes in unwrapped cakes at the natural grocery. Kittens.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:23 PM on January 12 [4 favorites]

Books. Chanel No 5. Summer rain.
posted by sockermom at 9:09 PM on January 12 [4 favorites]

Garlic sautéing in olive oil.
Also--oh God, I always have to look up the English name--kinmokusei, fragrant olive, osmanthus something or other--this plant with dark green leaves and little orange blossoms that come out in autumn and suffuse the air with a delicate, sweet fragrance, like oranges or apricots. I love the scent because it's lovely, and also because it means that summer is FINALLY over and we've made it through to autumn safely.
posted by huimangm at 9:17 PM on January 12 [4 favorites]

A used bookstore - specifically, The Strand in NYC. Leather. A hint of sandalwood. And, very faintly, a camp fire.
posted by hanov3r at 9:24 PM on January 12 [6 favorites]

That time where you walk into the grocery store and the strawberries are peaking.... or really, any fruit peak season.... where your nose just says - "buy this now..."

Also - when you live far inland - but are driving to your beach vacation and that moment where.... ahhhhh we're sooo close I can smell it, but you can't see the ocean/inlet yet.......

nice times....
posted by Gyre,Gimble,Wabe, Esq. at 9:29 PM on January 12 [6 favorites]

My grandmother's basement had a woodburning stove. When we were making the long trip to Stockton, I wondered if some part of the woodsmoke I smelled came from that stove. Back when my grandpa was alive he would spend all afternoon in his chair down there until my grandma would shout, "Supper Joe!". He passed in 1986 I think. Grandma kept the woodstove going until her end in 1999, the same day as the Columbine shooting. Every smell of that basement will live with me forever.
posted by jjray at 9:46 PM on January 12 [3 favorites]

The salty sea air along the coast in West Sussex!
posted by ellieBOA at 9:49 PM on January 12 [3 favorites]

Salt sea air.
Michigan before a thunderstorm (one of the only things I miss.)
My wife's warm skin when she's asleep and I come to wake her up and put my face on her shoulder.
My late kitty's head between her ears where I used to breathe when she was a baby because I read somewhere that mother cats breathe on their babies' heads to give baby their smell.
Christmas trees.
posted by fairlynearlyready at 10:15 PM on January 12 [5 favorites]

Garlic sautéing in olive oil.

Ooh, yes - what I said, plus that!
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:18 PM on January 12 [3 favorites]

Puppy feeties. Which is to say, fritos.

Or when your pupper is on your lap and she's had a bath recently enough to not be stinky but also enough long ago that she doesn't just smell like shampoo and you smooch her fuzzy head and end up shoving your face into the fur on the back of her neck and it's clean-smelling but still doggy and sort of dusty.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 10:25 PM on January 12 [11 favorites]

Wood-burning fires in very cold (preferably snowy) air.
posted by solarion at 10:28 PM on January 12 [6 favorites]

Eyebrows McGee: Toss up for me between this perfume my mom used to wear when I was little when she went out for fancy things, they stopped making it around 1990, and baby's head.

Milk baby baby smell! My wife and I agree that two kids is plenty for us, but sometimes I really want to cuddle a little baben, for that warmth, tenderness, and their milk baby smell.

Other favorite smells: snowy days and a wood fire (and camp fires in general), rain-soaked earth, pine forests, old books, and fresh bread. We have a fake Christmas tree, which is good for our desert climate, where I'm sure a cut tree would dry out faster than normal, but I miss the smell of a cut pine tree in the house around the holidays.

In high school, I hung out with smokers at lunch, and I got to like the smell of cigarette smoke, though I've never smoked myself. Every now and again, it smells pleasant in an oddly nostalgic way.


Random news from the house of light thieves: our cat came back! I'm a bad pet-parent, in that I didn't realize she had left in the first place, likely in part due to holidays and birthdays, but we think she snuck out Dec. 23 or 24, but we didn't notice she was gone days later, after we had a good bit of snow. She's normally an indoor cat, but as of late she's been snooping around outside when I let our dog out, though she comes back within a few minutes.

I posted missing cat notices on local pet finding groups, but no luck, though someone on one site said to leave her litter box outside, saying cats can smell their own litter boxes a mile away but that might not be accurate (you can leave a trail of used litter back home, apparently). My wife checked the local animal shelter to see if she had been picked up, but no luck there either. We were sort of coming to terms with not having our cat, and the boys were even talking about the next cat, after seeing kitties at the animal shelter.

Then last Tuesday, I opened the back door to let our dog out and *meow meow meow* there's our cat! It was a joyous, noisy reunion. She was very talkative for a day or two, but now she's less chatty than she used to be. And quite skinny now, not that she was particularly chubby before. Since then, she's been very cuddly, happy to sit on someone's lap. We're heading to the vet soon, to make sure all is well from her winter adventure, but so far she seems pretty close to normal.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:32 PM on January 12 [23 favorites]

My cat’s fur right behind her ears.
Homemade chocolate chip cookies right out of the oven.
Smoke from a neighbor’s fireplace in autumn.
The smell right after it rains in summer—but before all the worms come out.
posted by bookmammal at 10:37 PM on January 12 [7 favorites]

The perfume my mom wore when I was a girl (Timeless by Avon). Red hots. Baking cookies. The air in a certain Tennessee forest I once visited. Fried chicken at the moment you bite the skin. My kiddo when he is freshly showered.
posted by emjaybee at 10:57 PM on January 12 [3 favorites]

The inside of the nature center at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, Maryland.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 11:42 PM on January 12 [5 favorites]

You walk into your classroom on the first day of class in grade school. You take a new pencil out of the pencil box and walk up to the pencil sharpener. You sharpen your pencil to a perfect point, and just before you walk back to your desk, you breathe in the scent of fresh cedar. That smell.

Also, I just rewatched the Rick and Morty episode "Rick Potion No. 9", and this time, having already experienced the shock of the ending, I paid more attention to the song that played over it, "Look On Down From the Bridge" by Mazzy Star. If that song had a smell, I think that I'd quite like it.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:53 PM on January 12 [5 favorites]

I was thinking about this after watching that too! Mine are mostly evergreen forests, in:

1. The Northeastern US and places like it, in the winter, on a crisp snowy day, when there’s wood smoke in the air and you’re kind of sweaty and giddy from just having snowshoed into said forest.

2. The Pacific Northwest and places like it, at a bit of an elevation and near the ocean, on a hot and sunny day that makes the cedar and fir etc. bits on the ground give off that sweet greenish-brown fragrance mixed with the smells of salt and hot rocks.

3. Also the Pacific Northwest, in the part of spring when things are growing and decaying all at once and there are snails and mushrooms and sprouting things and the trees are making new leaves. Maybe the smell of the exact day last May that two friends and I walked into a forest like this and found a once in a lifetime bonanza of morels and picked like ten pounds of them in three hours, actually.

Basically I like evergreen forests.

Also my kid’s head when she was a baby. People who weren’t even fans of babies in general would come to our house just to sniff her when they were having a hard time. We had to have a conversation about getting our friends to stop treating her like a therapy animal.
posted by centrifugal at 11:55 PM on January 12 [7 favorites]

The Sonoran desert when it rains.
Orange blossoms.
My wife's neck.
posted by bongo_x at 1:00 AM on January 13 [5 favorites]

The warm, salty, ocean-with-just-a-hint-of-fish smell that hits you when you open the car door arriving at my parents' place in Key Largo. Which I'm feeling a bit homesick for because I wasn't able to visit there last year, and this year they are stuck in Canada until March dealing with some health issues, so I don't know if I'll get down there this year either.

Also cockatiel feathers when you're giving them a good headscritch.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:05 AM on January 13 [2 favorites]

That fire pit at a market fair in Eindhoven with a cauldron of apple cider hanging from a tripod over the fire. The smoked fish stall at a market fair in Amsterdam with eels and mackerel in their portable smoker. I’m all hungry now.

My current dog has disappointingly unscented toes. I wonder if that’s the source of his other problems.
posted by moonmilk at 1:27 AM on January 13 [5 favorites]

Petrichor. With the occasional hit of leaded gas exhaust out of a large lap big block.

lazuli: "The smell when it's just about to snow."

Oooo, and some of this.
posted by Mitheral at 2:33 AM on January 13 [2 favorites]

Eucalyptus trees when I step off the plane and home to Australia.
Add a week of 40°C summer heat, then hot rain on the gum leaves, steaming the tarmac around my city, fuck yeah.
posted by honey-barbara at 4:03 AM on January 13 [6 favorites]

Where I grew up, there’s this smell during the first week of fall. It’s a little spicy, a little sweet, maybe a little bit musty? When the first chilly morning happens while this smell is going on, and you add the cold air in my lungs and a tiny hint of smoke as someone is the first to open their fireplace for the winter, THAT is the exact Good Place smell for me.
posted by Night_owl at 4:36 AM on January 13 [3 favorites]


That big bag of skunky weed, most of it unsmoked and stinking up the joint terribly, while I hold my fingers under my nose and huff the residual odour of my big fat d00b. The remnants of the roach in my mouth, like chewing tobacco, adding a bitter undernote.

Unavailable in China, it has been far too long without my meds.

Walking into the coffeeshop in Amsterdam, getting hit with that aroma, and my smile just a huge idiotic rictus grin while every thirsty synapse pings wide open and ready. That moment of anticipation almost as good as the resolution.

Get me out of here for fuck sake!
posted by Meatbomb at 5:52 AM on January 13 [5 favorites]

I do enjoy the smell of a bag of skunky weed. The smell of weed as it is being smoked, however, is another matter entirely. Yuckola.
posted by duffell at 6:21 AM on January 13

Both misterussell and I agree that our Good Place smells like the lobby of Disney's Polynesian hotel. If any of you can tell me how to recreate it, I can start getting points subtracted from my total and just experience it now. (Good Place admittance is more feasible for me right now than swinging that nightly room rate, thanks Disney.)
posted by kimberussell at 6:39 AM on January 13 [3 favorites]

A girl whom I worked with in high school, who may or may not have called herself my girlfriend, she was easily the person whose kiss I have most thoroughly enjoyed. Aside from the physical pleasure of the kiss, for however, I don’t know, the kisses smelled like vanilla and the physical difference between skim milk and heavy cream. I remember waking up the morning after kissing her and still smelling vanilla and my high school concept of whatever cream was supposed to be like, and smiling.

Now, though? Mrs. Ghidorah’s hair in the morning before a shower. There’s a wonderfully spicy meat smell there, and holy hell, it’s a wonderful smelll.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:50 AM on January 13 [5 favorites]

This is totally off-topic... but hey, it's Metatalktail Hour. I need to share this with someone, and it might as well be y'all, so here goes:

Until about 5 minutes ago, I didn't understand that "the muffin man" was a human person who delivered muffins. Somehow I always assumed he was some kind of anthropomorphic muffin. And I guess I always assumed he was a villain? I don't know why, but I guess I just thought a muffin man would naturally be some kind of malevolent force. Anyway, I am thirty-goddamn-four years old.

Carry on.
posted by duffell at 6:52 AM on January 13 [22 favorites]

But now you can answer, "Do you know the muffin man?" more definitively!
posted by lazuli at 7:00 AM on January 13 [2 favorites]

Petrichor. The way my children smell, from babyhood to now adulthood (they still smell like my kids to me, when I hug them). Those big, fat black markers in the metal tubes. Gasoline. My ma-maws kitchen at breakfast time.


It's a melancholy time, again. I'm wondering if this is what middle-age and onward will be like from now on? My niece's birthday is Feb. 8, and my brother and sister-in-law are planning a gathering at her favorite restaurant to remember her. It will have been almost 4 months then since she died and I find myself still blindsided by it all sometimes. My son will be graduating from college in May and will probably not ever live with us again after that (though of course there's no guarantee that he'll be consistently employed/able to live on his own, and he is always, always welcome to live with us anytime he wants to/needs to) so that's hard to deal with. My daughter is halfway through her first year of college so I see the end already with her. My dad is dying, I think, in small degrees, due to cancer and chemo and old age. That's a complicated feeling, considering the kind of father he was (not good, to say the least). My best friend's older sister is probably dying after a sudden stroke that left a huge brain bleed. She's not doing well at all. And I still hate my job.

So things aren't great but I'm trying, I'm really trying, to find the good in things. Being with friends helps. But it feels like the rest of my life has so, so much loss ahead. How do people bear it?
posted by cooker girl at 7:00 AM on January 13 [15 favorites]

Frank Zappa helped get me properly clued in to the muffin man, and one of the best guitar solos out there too!
posted by Meatbomb at 7:04 AM on January 13

cooker girl, I remember that a few months after my mom died, I was walking around in a haze of grief and had the sudden realization that other people were dealing with, and had dealt with, similarly rip-you-apart grief and how the hell were we continuing to function as a society with community members feeling so awful??? It is amazing what we can endure, and how we can find meaning in life in the midst of so much grief and loss. *hugs* if you want them.
posted by lazuli at 7:05 AM on January 13 [10 favorites]

Dog paws. Specifically: the dog paws that smell kind of like corn chips. My younger pup (Ava) is here asleep on the couch next to me and since we just went for a walk in the wet cold, her paws smell mostly of deep iron-rich Georgia mud. Still, there's a whiff of that corn chip smell underneath. But we are warm, and cozy with steam gently rising off my mug in the watery half-light of a drizzly winter's day and until this insane human starting sniffing her toes, she was snoring gently, and it was a quiet morning of the sort that I always think about when I hear the Neutral Milk Hotel lyrics: "Heaven is a place you will wait for the rest of your life." It is also a run-on sentence kind of day.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 7:12 AM on January 13 [6 favorites]

cooker girl, as someone also in the throws of aging and wondering just what the hell happened that things have turned out quite so *this* rather than the so often promised, much preferable *that*, I wish I had better, more positive news, but as far as I've been forced to follow this road and figure these things out for myself, people bear it because it must be borne. We carry on because the weight of all that must be borne hasn't yet proven itself to be unbearable, because deep down inside, we are all of us much stronger than we realize, and capable of carrying more weight and sorrow than we ever imagined possible.

There is more loss ahead. It will be bearable because things that seem unbearable are, unbelievably, ultimately bearable. And all of us, in between our moments of burden, in those times when we have a chance to reposition the burdens we carry with us, we have each other. You, me, the people who meet here every week under the guise of a random theme, but more clearly, more honestly, for the purpose of checking in on each other, we help each other find better ways to bear our unthinkably heavy burdens. We help each other find better handholds, we give each other a moment of rest, we take on a burden for someone who needs a break. You've given that respite to others, and in turn, as best as we're able, we'll give it to you. Yes, there is loss and grief ahead, but you're not alone in carrying it, and there are people here who are willing to help you find ways to make the burden more bearable.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:38 AM on January 13 [16 favorites]

Mr. Carlson: Well, let's hear it.
Les: Well, we were all right here, just as we are now, discussing this new show with Sparky, except you didn't look like yourself, Mr. Carlson. You looked more like a large... muffin.
Jennifer: Muffin?
Les: Yes, a nice breakfast muffin. And you said that you had an exciting announcement.
Mr. Carlson: Well?
Les: Well, you sang it.
[Singing] "I'm a big fat muffin that loves to eat, a big fat muffin that has no feet. But most of all, I'm a big fat muffin that loves to explode."
And then you did.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:43 AM on January 13 [4 favorites]

That’s one of my very favorite WKRP scenes! Haven’t thought of it in years. Thanks for my first smile of the day!
posted by bookmammal at 8:30 AM on January 13 [1 favorite]

And all of us, in between our moments of burden, in those times when we have a chance to reposition the burdens we carry with us, we have each other. You, me, the people who meet here every week under the guise of a random theme, but more clearly, more honestly, for the purpose of checking in on each other, we help each other find better ways to bear our unthinkably heavy burdens. We help each other find better handholds, we give each other a moment of rest, we take on a burden for someone who needs a break.

Ghidorah, you're cutting up onions in here...thanks.
posted by MonkeyToes at 8:32 AM on January 13 [4 favorites]

Both misterussell and I agree that our Good Place smells like the lobby of Disney's Polynesian hotel. If any of you can tell me how to recreate it, I can start getting points subtracted from my total and just experience it now.

kimberussell, The Internet claims that Disney uses a company called Enviroscent and this is the crowd-consensus scent used at The Polynesian:
posted by rachaelfaith at 8:36 AM on January 13 [6 favorites]

But it feels like the rest of my life has so, so much loss ahead. How do people bear it?

My solution was simply to embrace it, to accept that that loss would always be part of my life. One of the worst things about losing my parents at an early age was that some relatives (maybe well-meaning, probably not really very good at dealing with things like this) insisted that I should just get over it and move on. My acceptance that my feelings of loss would always be part of my life, that I would always miss my parents at some deep, intrinsic level, was a huge relief and one of the major revelations of my life.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:14 AM on January 13 [6 favorites]

Wow. The amount of things I don't understand in the link in the prompt make me worry that I'm misinterpreting the question. (That's okay. Inside jokes and references are fun for me, so I can't complain when I'm not on the inside.) But, assuming "the good place" is a place that is good and "smells" are what we normally think of. . . this is right up my alley.

My good places smell like diesel bus exhaust, hot machining oil, rosin-core lead-tin solder fumes, the paper section at a large office supply store, a fishy/kelpy rocky ocean shore, and damp, musty attics.

But, the winner is the smell of rain on dry soil. I love where I live, but the smell of the first rain here is concentrated dog pee on concrete. Metafilter taught me that I can buy concentrated petrichor and make my home smell like it any time I want, which is fantastic.
posted by eotvos at 9:20 AM on January 13 [3 favorites]

My grandma's house, right before Thanksgiving. Turkey, matzoh ball soup, apple pie, other grandma house smells!

I'm writing this while waiting in line to be processed through immigration in Jakarta. Quick trip, just under a month, hopefully some orangutans will show up!
posted by ChuraChura at 9:21 AM on January 13 [6 favorites]

(eotvos, "The Good Place" is an American tv show about the afterlife, with "the good place" being their term for heaven or a heaven-type equivalent.)
posted by lazuli at 9:24 AM on January 13 [2 favorites]

Since woodsmoke seems to be one of the most common Good Place Smells, and many of us don't have fireplaces, I wanna recommend Incienso de Santa Fe - they sell incense that smells like a fireplace. The sampler is a fun way to try the different flavors of firewood they sell. I've been ordering this stuff every winter for something like 25 years, since I found some in a gift shop in Santa Fe!

(It's also available on Amazon.)
posted by moonmilk at 9:35 AM on January 13 [5 favorites]

Both misterussell and I agree that our Good Place smells like the lobby of Disney's Polynesian hotel. If any of you can tell me how to recreate it, I can start getting points subtracted from my total and just experience it now.

kimberussell, The Internet claims that Disney uses a company called Enviroscent and this is the crowd-consensus scent used at The Polynesian:

Disney does an amazing job with smellscaping, and I say that as a person with extreme sensitivity to perfumes and many artificial scents. Two of my B-list good smells that I like to close my eyes and remember are the section of Spaceship Earth where you can smell Rome burning, and the chemical-treated water in Pirates of the Caribbean.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:43 AM on January 13 [1 favorite]

I don't like smells generally: laundry detergent, perfumes, colognes, oil diffusers... I sneeze a lot around them.

This had no smell but it happened:
I was just walking around the neighborhood for a while. There were a couple of women in full bike gear with fancy(?) bicycles on the edge of the sidewalk. As I walked by they pulled their bikes aside and one of them said, "sorry we're in your way."

I thought to myself, "You're my fitness heroines and I'm walking around drunk at 7:30 AM. None of us should be apologizing."
posted by bendy at 9:44 AM on January 13 [10 favorites]

This is a great question! And my favorite smell is definitely the smell of the place where I already live, the mountain behind my house, on a sunny, dry day in the middle of June. The lavender, thyme, and rock rose are all blooming and they + the pines are all full of resins and essential oils that are just baking in the hot, dry sun. It's 30 degrees Celsius. There isn't a single cloud in view. The whole mountain smells like hay and lavender. It's already the Good Place.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 10:09 AM on January 13 [7 favorites]

And speaking of which, I loved the smell of "night-blooming jasmine." Every year in San Francisco you could walk around in the evening/night and smell it. I miss San Francisco so much.
posted by bendy at 10:16 AM on January 13 [3 favorites]

That's one of the few things I miss about living in Berkeley. The huge planters of jasmine outside of Tolman Hall (which is where Dr Bored for Science and I were both grad students). That slightly weird nighttime smell of salt and mist, edging (almost) into unwashed human walking up Shattuck Ave.
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 10:51 AM on January 13

Either the lemon trees in Italy or the hotel at Mandalay Bay. I have a milk and honey hand lotion that is similar to Mandalay.
posted by soelo at 10:56 AM on January 13 [1 favorite]

Roasting chicken. My mom was not a great cook but she could roast a chicken like nobody’s business. When I was a kid we had leaded glass windows, and I would read on the couch, watch my dad’s cigarette smoke waft in the sunlight coming in those windows (it was the 70s parents still smoked inside) and wait for dinner. I would give anything for five minutes on that couch again.
posted by lyssabee at 12:30 PM on January 13 [4 favorites]

moonmilk, yes!! I settled on Fir Balsam as my personal favorite...and thanks your reminder I've just now lit a piece!
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:57 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]

For five years we lived on a lake just south of Montreal. It was the mid seventies in Quebec and ... well, it was all the mid seventies in the US probably were, but in Quebec - which meant the Franco-phone were deciding if they were going to try and split from Canada (the first time) seeing as they had all this money from Hydro Quebec and etc etc etc.

My sister and I loved that house (a house unsuited to Quebec’s winters, we shut half of it off, closed & sealed doors for five months of the year) because it was damn cool and on the water and in the winter we could go out onto the lake on our skis or the neighbor’s ski-doo and in the summer we sailed on it and throughout it was there, the lake (really the Ottawa river) flooding the yard and basement in the spring. And smelling in a fresh-water dead-fish and reeds reek that I knew in a way I did not even know I knew.
Two years ago my sister and I met back there and the first, embarrassingly, thing we did when we smelled it again the river that smell, childhood! (before the flight to the US! before everything got sideways and fucked up) we stood on the banks and cried. “The smell!” “I know! The smell!” Our kids had no idea, it was just a stink to them. But for us it was as though a tiny window had opened and we could pretend we could imagine what life would have been like if we had never left. I’m sure, we’re both sure, life would have still grown twisted and particular and lumpy ungainly dumb and at times beautiful - but we would never have left and if nothing else that one card of misery, to leave the place you thought you belonged, would not have been played.

My good place, the smell of rotting fish and drying fresh-water sea-weeds on the banks of the Lake of two mountains.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:06 PM on January 13 [7 favorites]

My grandparents’ house smells like woodsmoke and cigarette smoke and butter and probably some sort of mold that gives a sharpness to the scent. My grandpa died in 2003, and Grandma died a few years ago, but the house is still in the family and it still smells like home.

The crook of my partner’s neck always smells mineral clean, even when she’s just been running.

I didn’t know until reading this thread that other people’s dogs’ feet smell like Fritos and I am so glad that it’s a widespread phenomenon. I thought Frankie was just weird.
posted by coppermoss at 1:22 PM on January 13 [2 favorites]

Greg_Ace - yeah, Fir Balsam is my favorite too, with its weird slightly sour smoke, but also because the name reminds me of my old dog, Furball Sam.
posted by moonmilk at 1:24 PM on January 13 [4 favorites]

Snowy day here in the DC area. Here's a photo I took this morning at the park across the street.
posted by duffell at 1:44 PM on January 13 [3 favorites]

Furball Sam

posted by Greg_Ace at 1:55 PM on January 13 [3 favorites]

duffell, the photo doesn't seem to be loading for me, but I am sure it's beautiful!
posted by lazuli at 3:23 PM on January 13

Woodsmoke + slight mildew + whiff of fish + fading scent of bottle rocket = childhood lake cabin memories.

If I think too much more about this I will cry, but a good cry.

Mostly good.
posted by wenestvedt at 5:59 PM on January 13 [3 favorites]

The Bad Place smell is "used crayons" and also this super-cheap shampoo used by the pink-haired lady at my childhood dentist's office which smelled like a combination of circus peanuts and "no Novocaine because we only have major medical."
posted by wenestvedt at 6:06 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]

coppermoss: I didn’t know until reading this thread that other people’s dogs’ feet smell like Fritos...

posted by wenestvedt at 6:13 PM on January 13 [5 favorites]

Also: as far as I know nooone has yet captured Baby Head Smell and commercialized it, yet Frito-Lay totally reveals the secret of their addictive snack's success right in the name and we still are powerless to stop buying them. Don't see it yet? Say "Fritos" slowly, then say "free toes" slowly, and then read "free [sniff of your beloved doggo's] toes" and then shut your laptop and go to a gas station and buy a bag of the goddamn things.

Don't forget to drink water, too.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:17 PM on January 13 [3 favorites]

The inside of the nature center at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, Maryland.

Wow, thanks for that dose of smell nostalgia! I volunteered at that nature center way back when I was a teenager and reading this suddenly reminded me of the smell. It's not like I can smell it again in my mind, exactly, but I get the feeling of what the smell was like.
posted by Redstart at 7:54 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]

@Fig: The yeasty smell of fresh-baked bread. Or hope.

∆ that was supposed to be hops. I'll leave hope, because I'm sure that smells nice too.

There's a meme in here that combines the Obama Hope poster and the picture of Obama in Ireland with beer, but I'm gonna leave it to the imagination.
posted by sylvanshine at 8:06 PM on January 13 [3 favorites]

I originally thought "fresh-baked hope", and got stuck trying to imagine a recipe for a concept.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:19 PM on January 13 [2 favorites]

Good place: Clothes-dryer exhaust dissipating in cool air, especially when the laundry in question has been washed in something perfumey.

Bad-place smell: intense BO, Brussels sprouts, original Palmolive, and a certain rest stop in the middle of Nevada.
posted by armeowda at 8:27 PM on January 13 [3 favorites]

My late son's colognes--a friend remarked how he always smelled "classy," and his favorite was Burberry Brit. After he died his bedroom remained largely unchanged and I kept the door closed, and I could still smell him so strongly in that room for the 4 years that I remained in that house. There are a lot of smells I remember fondly but that's the one that would let me know I was in the Good Place.
posted by drlith at 8:28 PM on January 13 [20 favorites]

Lily of the Valley.

Reminds me of spring in Chicago. Those shade-loving plants thrived in the spaces between the close together bungalows and for a few weeks every spring the scent was wonderfully overwhelming.
posted by she's not there at 10:24 PM on January 13 [5 favorites]

Fresh baked bread, honeysuckle, apricot jam boiling on the stove, wood fireplace or campfire smoke. Honeysuckle is the only one from childhood.

Bad place: peanuts, cooked fish, and Poison by Dior perfume. Gag.
posted by Sophie1 at 6:47 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]

All Good Places:
  • Vanilla sugar.
  • Pipe tobacco (but pipe smoke itself: not so much).
  • Mom's makeup and Chanel No. 5 from when they went out somewhere fancy without the kids (i.e., not often).
  • Popcorn from the little booth under the stands at the old University of Minnesota hockey arena.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:13 AM on January 14 [3 favorites]

My Bad Place smell is call centre washrooms. Trust.
posted by wellred at 7:55 AM on January 14 [3 favorites]

I'm always late to this party. Very late.

Good smell: Chanel No. 5.
Horrific smell: cat pee

I vowed to ask my husband for a divorce this month. We talked and I agreed to give it a few more months. This also has to do with giving our VERY GOOD AND CLOSE friend (friendship came first) and live-in landlord (this came later/second) more notice. Backing down, aka waiting, makes me sad, but it won't kill me, I don't suppose.
posted by KleenexMakesaVeryGoodHat at 10:52 AM on January 14 [6 favorites]

*hugs* if you want them, KleenexMakesaVeryGoodHat. I'm having a bunch of divorce-iversaries this month and I am so, so much happier now and I wish you all the best.
posted by lazuli at 7:14 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]

I like the smell of honey/beeswax, and also baking sourdough bread and a few other things, but true home is for me the smell of an actual woodworker's workshop, as in: fresh woodshavings (oak, pine, birch, etc.) and hide glue, so not: machine-cut chipboard and titebond. A bit like real good Scotch, actually.

The Good Place should not smell like dog poo, Yankee candles or Patchouli.
posted by Namlit at 10:46 AM on January 15 [4 favorites]

The Good Place should not smell like dog poo, Yankee candles or Patchouli.

Hey, maybe we should meet somewhere else instead of my house.
posted by bongo_x at 12:03 PM on January 15 [5 favorites]

My dad decided to build a kit virginals when I was small, and my seven-year-old fingers held little pieces together while the glue set. Decades later, in a smallish city, in my one trip to France, I was overcome by the nose and jinked down an alley without explanation until I stopped in front of an unmarked door and said helplessly into the quiet, "Harpsichords". It's the pearwood, probably, although there are several preferred woods in the old keyboard instruments. Decades after that it happened again in north Berkeley, but wasn't as much of a surprise.

Also soil turned over, different smells for different soils, though one of the amazing ones was a nine-foot-diameter cedar trunk that had been a few feet underground for, oh, two hundred years? Five hundred? when I dug through it. It was as soft and smeary as Alabama red clay but for a few breaths the whole concentrated perfume of cedar, a millenium of cedar, came through the air.
posted by clew at 12:12 PM on January 15 [8 favorites]

Gidorah, I read your comment while my daughter was getting ready to go back to school and I needed to not cry right then because she always knows when I've been crying and she didn't need me to be sad then, she needed me to be strong.

Anyway, I thought about it all weekend and I thought I could come back today and read it and not cry, but nope! So many tears! In a good way, I might add. Thank you. I really, really needed to hear those words.
posted by cooker girl at 12:54 PM on January 15 [5 favorites]

Popcorn/Frito feet and sawdust. Because of all the hours spent in my dad's woodshop with the dog.
posted by teleri025 at 2:45 PM on January 15 [1 favorite]

Horrific smell: cat pee

And yet there are some things - box hedges and antique wooden boxes (maybe made out of boxwood? but I don't see how boxwood could be made from box hedges - i should google to find out what boxwood is but not right now) - that smell like cat pee but in a good way. I don't understand how, but they do. Like how a sufficiently small dose of skunk smells like skunk but in a good way.
posted by moonmilk at 2:49 PM on January 15

Yeah, box hedge is one of my Good Place smells. Everyone says box smells like cat pee, but it actually smells like parks in Paris. My family lived on the outskirts of Paris for a couple of years when I was a little kid. Box, certain bakery smells, and that fruit and vegetable market smell all take me right back there.
posted by Redstart at 2:58 PM on January 15 [1 favorite]

Boxwood is the same thing as the hedges. Trim them to hedges and the trunks stay small; Let them grow and the trunks become large enough, barely, to saw for planks. Also there are many different varieties in the boxwood family with I imagine variation in how bushy verses trunky they are.

Similar to how if you coppice an oak you get staves instead of a huge single trunk.

PS: I just learned a couple years ago that you can have apricot hedges rather than trees. My neighbour has them. The old owners kept them well trimmed but the new owners are more lax. Because apricots form on second growth wood it wasn't until the maintenance started lacking that the hedges produced apricots.
posted by Mitheral at 8:09 PM on January 15 [3 favorites]

My good place smell is the air just south of Monterey Bay, a few hours after a morning rain.

My bad place smell is cat pee on a feather comforter.
posted by samthemander at 12:09 AM on January 16

So how is it that only two posts after I neutrally and naïvely write I like the smell of a woodworking shop, someone starts talking about harpsichord making? You gotta be kidding me.*

Expanding on Boxwood: it's not that cats perhaps like to pee on boxwood hedges? Because that's what I always thought about the smell of my basement entrance boxwood bush. Anywhoo, at one point in my life I actually made 10 recorders, 9 of which from French boxwood (that's from a variety that grows into trees): the smell is neutral but pleasant, and not anywhere near the smell of cat pee. Just for the records...

* My dad was a harpsichord maker (and incidentally some of his instruments wound up in Berkeley, but that's not what you meant I'm sure).
posted by Namlit at 5:58 AM on January 17 [5 favorites]

A couple years ago I bought myself a Zuckerman kit harpsichord for my birthday, at Habitat for Humanity of all places. It's mostly plywood and I haven't noticed that it smells like anything in particular except lots of dust. I started work on making it functional at one point but it fell far down on my list of priorities after I moved to the farm.
posted by drlith at 10:18 AM on January 17 [3 favorites]

I have wassailed. Unfortunately my smartphone camera was utterly rubbish in the dark, but it was good. The combined effects of singing, hot cider, mead and the last of the (also hot) mulled wine mitigated the effects of the cold - England is entering Winter 2.0 - but am now back at base, in front of the fire.

Looking at Twitter, there's been a wide variety of wassailing going on to celebrate the 'old' twelfth night. Or, as some of us see it, the proper twelfth night, rather than that newfangled Gregorian calendar nonsense which will probably never catch on. Elsewhere, this one looks good; some of the others perhaps less so.
posted by Wordshore at 1:51 PM on January 17 [4 favorites]

Sounds like an awesome evening, wordshore; I can practically taste the mulled wine.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:26 PM on January 17 [1 favorite]

Expanding on Boxwood: it's not that cats perhaps like to pee on boxwood hedges? Because that's what I always thought about the smell of my basement entrance boxwood bush.

No, it's the bushes themselves, but I've always assumed it was the leaves. It's much stronger when the leaves are wet. Cursory googling (that is the first time I have visited so many Southern-living type websites!) says it's from a resin in the leaves when heated by the sun, and that some types of boxwood are worse than others.
posted by lazuli at 6:00 AM on January 18 [1 favorite]

Now there's some comfort for me then: no cats at Northern Entrance.
posted by Namlit at 1:26 AM on January 19 [2 favorites]

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