The Smell of Nail Polish Remover: AP Lang Writing Experiment

The Smell of Nail Polish Remover: AP Lang Writing Experiment

Isabel Urban (she/her), Editor

Synesthesia – a smell and connecting it to a memory

The smell of acetone tickles the air. I’ve never been too good at painting my nails. Nothing “beauty” related has ever stuck with me, and nail painting is included in that. Polish always ends up tucked in the crevices between my fingernails and the skin around it, and I have to go in with a cotton swab and acetone. Honestly, the harsh smell of the liquid is strangely quite comforting to me.

The first time I remember painting my nails was when I was really little. There was this really cool playroom above the garage in my old house, and my mom and I would set up a salon called Silly’s Salon. We painted each other’s nails in an array of colors, and even though I was really little, I still remember laughing and making a mess. We opened up the salon a few times, sometimes even painting my dad or little sibling’s nails. 

There is a series of pictures that I absolutely love of my mom and I holding up our colorful nails with the biggest smiles on our faces. Something as simple as painting my nails brought so much joy to me as a little kid, but I honestly think the reason for that was because of the way my mom would make such a big event out of it. We would always make signs and hang them around the house advertising our business, and of course my mom would always act like a nail artist and make it seem like I was really at a nail salon.

The playroom had this staircase that went up from the mudroom, and the second you would open the door when Silly’s Salon was opened, the stench of acetone would immediately overwhelm you. See, my mom also isn’t very good at painting her nails, and we would use a lot of acetone when the salon was opened. I used to think it was the most rancid scent, as it was strong and powerful. Now, it just reminds me of my childhood.