Of vs. Like

On K.’s recommendation, I’m reading the first Mortal Instruments book, which has sucked me in, in spite of my predisposition to view it as stupid. It’s very entertaining. I’m a little disturbed by all the slapping the main gal does and some of the teenage angst is something I think would have appealed to me as a teenager, but kind of doesn’t now.

But one thing the author does that drives me bonker is that things “smell of” all over the place. “This blanket smells of elderberries, rabbit stew, and loneliness.” Or “he smelled of blood, sweat, and iron ore.”

Here’s the thing. I think there’s a difference between “like” and “of.” If I write “he smelled of lilacs” it’s because I want you to imagine that he’s just come from the lilac bush. But if I write, “he smelled like dirt” I want you to imagine that he had some earthy scent that was kind of similar to the smell of dirt. You smell of something you’ve recently been in contact with. You smell like something that is a metaphor for how you smell.

And yet, I think the author uses “smelled of” to mean both things. So, I don’t know if a character literally smelled like monkey poop–meaning it’s an indication he’s just been near a monkey–or if he just kind of has a weird, unpleasant odor.

Slight Work Griping

We got an email yesterday about two different guys who had flashed groups of women who were walking around campus in broad daylight from campus police.

At the end of the email, it had “risk reduction techniques.”

Those techniques were to not travel anywhere alone, to not travel in dark, isolated spaces, to avail yourself of campus police when walking to and from your car, to feel free to avoid sketchy people, and to trust your instincts. I’m paraphrasing slightly, but not much.

As you can see, none of these “risk reduction techniques” would have prevented these women from being flashed.

So, they’re a superstition, no better than “don’t step on a crack or you’ll break your mother’s back.” Just some shit women are supposed to do that isn’t directly applicable to the situations we encounter trouble in that assume we have some control over who does us wrong.

I’m especially loving the idea that we’re all supposed to call for an escort to and from our cars. All of us? Just how many police officers do we have?