The Fourth-and-a-Half Sense

I smell dead people.

Actually, no. I probably wouldn't.

I mean even if a spectral Bruce Willis and I found ourselves hanging out in a mafia meat locker after a particularly busy week, I think we'd have a better chance of ol' Brucie announcing, "Phew, this is a good place for a Plug-In" before I ever would.

I am allergy-impaired, you see. And I think I actually prefer it that way. Because a brief moment of allergy-meds-induced, smell-based lucidity last evening led me on a bloodhound-like chase that I don't care to repeat.

I mean, you people with normal smellerificness-- do you go around sniffing your home entertainment system very often?

My money is on "no, only on special occasions."

See, I'd been running around the house finishing up a few things post-dinner. I sat down to watch a DVD, and then...

"I smell something on fire. Something electrical. Or metal. Or burnt dead dog. Or maybe spareribs."

(Cut me some slack-- having not smelled anything since about January, I lack your ninja-like Smell Precision Reflexes.)

There were a number of possible culprits in the area for this:
  • The broiler of the stove I had used for dinner. Could sirloin steak grilled on a metal pan smell like the Sony warehouse going up in flames?
  • A candle in a votive. Had I been freshening my house with toxic candle fumes, thus explaining my penchant for eccentric narrative?
  • The heating system. Was she gonna blow, Kiptin?

To my fleetingly clear sinus, which had had only clocked a total of two full hours actual smell-training, it really could have been anything. Or nothing.

Well, I sniffed around. I stood on the heat vents and sniffed them in a pajama-clad, non-blonde, nasal-oriented version of Marilyn Monroe in the Seven Year Itch. (It smelled heaty.)

I stuck my head in the oven and sniffed. (It smelled meaty.)

I blew out and sniffed the possibly aromatic candle. (Nope, smelled like birthday disappointment.)

And then I started sniffing my TV, cable box and DVD player.

Because, in spite of the fact that the thing sounded great, the picture was clear, and there were no flames licking the TV cabinet, it was possible that there was some quiet inner-operative brush fire that would rip across the country to wipe out Malibu unless I stood there for the next half hour, strategically smelling it, while simultaneously missing my program.

What I finally concluded was that my nose was experiencing an ol-factory hallucination due to the allergy meds. I didn't fully believe the theory, of course. But we lie to ourselves to get through the night...

Preferably so that night is not spent sleeping propped up with one's nose stuck to the widescreen.

Yet this morning, as I came downstairs and slurped the first cup of java for the day, the hallucination returned.

"Fire. I smell fire."

It was only as I'd been heading to work and locking the front door-- the smell gaining significant stink-momentum-- that I realized...

The neighbors next door have a wood-burning stove. They've lived next to me for at least three years, but this was the first time I'd actually be able to smell it burning.

I'd wasted 40 minutes of my life trying to locate a scent that wasn't even in my house.

So, I really can't wait until my nasal passages close up again. This extra sensory stimuli is really just too much to handle. The burden, it's too great.

I don't know how all of you fully-smelling people handle it with such grace.



Cari said...

When I was pregnant I had a nose like a bloodhound. When it got coupled with crippling morning (all day!) sickness it was a special kind of torture.

I don't think it ever fully went away, too. To this day, I smell the baby's dirty diapers before anyone else.

Save me.

Unknown said...

Cari- There has GOT to be some sort of happy medium, doesn't there?? :)

Jaffer said...

I've had my halogen desk lamp for more than a decade - and a lamp that old is a primary source of heat in a student's dorm room when the heat is off.

One night, the guys popped in an told me they were heading out to dinner. I went - and had a good time.

When I returned, there was a horrible stench in the room !

I began to look for forgotten food, smelled the dirty pile of clothes, smelled my closet, smelled under my bed for cat pee, smelled the shelves.
Then I decided to open the window over the desk and smelled the fresh air.

But I got close - and then I saw it to my horror - I had left the lamp on - touching the top left corner of my laptop screen.

It had melted away the plastic and got close to melting the screen itself !

I never used that lamp again - until last year when my brother decided that the warm light would make his room look cosier.

Unknown said...

Jaffer- Wow, you were seriously lucky with that one!! Who would have imagined your lamp could melt plastic, though?!

Anonymous said...

My nose has never really worked that well. My husband is always asking me " Don't you smell that? It smells really bad." Of course I'm really glad I can't smell it. I do have problems with strong smelling foods though. If the smell is too strong and I don't like it ; I won't eat it. Things like fish or any seafood, eggs ( on their, I can handle them when baked in cakes and sweets which hide their smell) and coffee. Yes, I can't drink coffee, I drink tea instead. Either way caffeine has never had much of an effect on me.
I believe my ears have picked up the slack from my bad sense of smell. I can identify each of my 4 cats meows and walks without ever seeing them. I can also tell which kid is making noise and what they are doing upstairs without our video and sound monitors being on. The only time my super hearing has problems is when I'm in a bar with loud music and lots of people ( it's overload on my ears) or when I'm sick ( then my ears fill up with fluid and become as useless as my nose).

Shieldmaiden96 said...

Sudden Onset Bloodhound Smellery (SOBS, if you will...which is usually what I want to follow it with) is what usually precedes a doozy of a sinus headache for me. So if I'm walking down the aisle at the grocery store smelling people's laundry detergent, shampoo, cats, dogs, woodstoves, and cigarettes as they walk by me, I know two things: I need to get out of there FAST and I can't walk down the aisle with the soap/laundry detergent/air fresheners because I'll hurl.

Unknown said...

Sue- I don't mind the egg or fish smell. I DO mind the smell of popovers or cream puffs baking. Whatever that dry, yeasty pungent smell is gets me-- I couldn't even be in the house when she'd bake them-- even though they were yum. But like you, I miss out on a number of more subtle scents. Your super-hearing, though-- you could be an international spy with that kind of power. :)

ShieldMaiden- See, that's just not fair. The only time you can really breathe is when you're about to have something violent spring from your skull. Where's the justice?

Gianetta said...

I was going with the smell coming from the heating vent. My furnace is in the basement and I get all sorts of foul-smelling scents coming from there.

Unknown said...

MA- Mine have tended to stay down there to-date-- thankfully. I did have a mouse snuff it down there once, and WHEW... THAT I did smell. Not fun for either of us.

ReformingGeek said...

That's funny, Jen!

Yes, you are probably better off not being able to smell!

I used to work with a girl who had a super sense of smell. She said that certain people's bad breath made her puke. Hum....we were all wondering which one of us she was blaming.


Unknown said...

ReformingGeek- Oh, I can imagine-- the poor gal! I know every now and then I'll be out somewhere and even I can smell the O which the B has somehow left behind for the rest of us, to make our eyes water.

PS- Listerine pocketpaks are awesome. Not only do you end up with nice breath, but for a fleeting glorious moment it clears your sinuses! :)

Chris said...

A wood burning stove? Where do you live, the backwoods of Kentucky or something?

Surfie said...

I usually have a pretty sensitive sniffer. I'm not quite as good as Dectective Goren on Law & Order: Criminal Intent - that guy can usually smell any item or residue and tell you all about it. But I could walk into my coworker's office and tell which body gel or lotion she had used that morning. And I can smell things that other people swear they can't smell, which can be frustrating because they all think I'm crazy.

Thoryke said...

Even when I'm taking allergy meds, I tend to miss some scents that others notice, and pick up on ones that apparently don't merit notice from other people. I expect it's the analogous to hearing the damn fluorescent lights buzzing when other people can't.

But I'm deeply grateful that I can detect the scent of sour milk quickly, because I have quite a gag reflex, and it's best to not even go there.

MikeWJ at Too Many Mornings said...

I think it's extremely funny that your scented candle smelled like birthday disappointment. I suspect there's an entire story there that you tried to slip right by us.

Anyway, I guess I hope your nose plugs up again soon so that you can stop being haunted by ghost smells.

screwdestiny said...

This post was hilarious. I live in a townhome and pretty much whenever our neighbors cook anything, we can smell it clearly in our house, too. So I'll get home and be like, "You cooked?!" And then get disappointed.

Unknown said...

Chris- We're in the city, but part of a neighborhood where the houses all date from the 1800s.

Surfie- Maybe you missed your calling as a part of a CSI unit. Or the Scooby-Doo team. :)

Thorke- You know my lactose aversion, so I don't know if that ability would be a gift or a curse. :) Bleh.

Mike- Someday I will tell you about my parents and their undaunted fascination with trick birthday candles.

ScrewDestiny- Aw, that would be disappointing. Just go knock on next door and say, "I smell ___. What do you plan to do with the leftovers?" That will endear you to your neighbors. :) (Hey, by the way, nice new avatar!)

nonamedufus said...

The worst? We have two cats. And, while the litterbox is downstairs in the laundry room, if I've been out for several hours the first thing I smell when I unlock the door is that damn litterbox. Of course if I emptied it instead of waiting for my wife to do it that might address the stinky problem. Hey, Jenn, do you like cats?

Melanie said...

ROFLOL! Great post! I too am smelling impared and have done the exact same thing all too often. The only time this winter I've been able to smell was the week a mouse died in the kitchen wall. Why couldn't it have been they day I baked cookies or something?

Melanie said...

ROFLOL! Great post! I too am smelling impared and have done the exact same thing all too often. The only time this winter I've been able to smell was the week a mouse died in the kitchen wall. Why couldn't it have been they day I baked cookies or something?

Anton Volney said...

LOL i love this post!