And not just any kind of smell; they have their own particular fragrance which has unfolded over time, and just like manufactured perfume, the notes reveal themselves in perfect, lingering, stinking harmony.
Take my 17 year old Daughter. (Pleeeeeeease, take my Daughter. No, I'm kidding, she's okay, she just smells) She and her friends, whilst all varying slightly in the overall olfactive impression they leave behind when exiting a room (and which can take several Dog farts to clear), have generally similar bouquets they love to radiate, as only a gaggle of teenage girls can.
The top notes, which are perceived immediately upon being in the same postcode as the girls, consist of a heady mix of celebrity-endorsed perfumes, chain-store body sprays, and fruity-flavoured lipgloss (the subtle differences between Fruit Pucker, Tropical Smooch and Pomegranate Pout are what makes girls unique). These top, or 'head' notes are a tad superficial but form the initial impression upon presentation, and are therefore important in selling a girl's persona. So if one wears a Britney Spears perfume with Paris Hilton Passport body spray ("It's, like, totally hot") and Sweet Sucker lipgloss, I will assume she is also wearing no underwear.
As the top notes evaporate in a cloud of squeals, hugs and OMGs, the middle notes come to the fore. These consist mainly of freshly applied nailpolish, a strong splash of anti-perspirant-no-white-marks-no-yellow-marks-lightly-scented-for-sensitive-skin-body-responsive-best-protection-ever deodorant, and a generous helping of de-frizz hair straightening product. These are sometimes known as the 'heart' notes. Probably because the pure power of them combined can cause heart palpitations in the uninitiated.
The middle notes are generally used to mask the often unpleasant first impression of what is known as the base notes. The scents of these base notes are often very rich and are usually not perceived until about 30 minutes after the all-night-loud-music-dancing-screaming-gossiping-vampire-movie-marathon-sleepless-sleepover has begun, otherwise known as the "Bitch Please" stage. They can include, but are not necessarily limited to, excessive oestrogen oozings, garlic and/or alcopop breath, the whiff of a favourite never-laundered-because-Justin-Bieber's-bodyguard-touched-the-shoulder tshirt, and odour emanating from feet which have spent the day in school shoes/sports shoes/the moshpit at a music festival and are as yet unwashed.
Then there's my 19 year old son. He and his mates exude aromatic compounds somewhat different to the girls, with only a few minor similarities. However, their head-turning abilities are second-to-none.
Their top notes can be detected as soon as one of their vehicles pulls up in the street, and become more apparent as they collectively waltz into the home environment, via the back door, unannounced. Heavily advertised after-shave designed to attract women, poorly applied hair products designed to avoid haircuts, and just-eaten Big Mac/KFC/garlic yiros. All highly concentrated and intense, but fleeting. Like sex on a chair. (Now I get the 'head' notes thing.)
As these top notes dissipate during the grunting/greeting process, the middle notes emerge to be recognised and acknowledged. Pepperoni pizza consumed some time in the preceding 24 hours, the remnants of the previous night's alcohol consumption on either breath or clothes, an exceptionally acrid signed soccer shirt which only gets washed at the end of the season, the sharp pungency of pimple creams, the very barest hint of cheap but allegedly manly body washes with an undertone of testosterone, the trace of a fart long trapped in the jeans, and sweaty socks which in one more day may be able to grow legs and crawl to the laundry by themselves.
After 30 minutes of hardcore gaming, these aromatic middle notes give way to the depth and solidity of the all-important base notes...
At least I understand something now. All of these odoriferous compounds and accompanying activities were the reason headache tablets, automatic room deodorisers and cask wine were invented.
And I am not in Nirvana.
How does your teen smell? (and please don't answer "through the nose")