The day has finally come when I feel compelled to reveal my true identity as a mutant. I can hide in the shadows no longer and deny my true self. I have a super power, the strength of which is so great that Professor Xavier himself attempted to recruit me for his academy many years ago. Unfortunately, I passed as I was still anxiously awaiting my Hogwart’s letter. It never came. That means that I missed out on Cyclops for absolutely nothing. So is life.
What is this power you ask? Powerful telepath? Nope. Shape shifter? Hardly. Phasing? Not even close. Constant reactive evolution? I wish! No, ladies and gentlemen, my super human strength is my sniffer. Yep, this wee nose I possess is quite powerful indeed. I rival the most prize winning blood hound. And like most super powers, it’s both a blessing and a curse.
On the curse list:
- Farts– If there is a crop-dusting incident happening in a 50-yard radius, I’m going to be a casualty.
- Washing Machine Mishaps– Oh, you didn’t wash your towels on hot? Yeah, I can tell. That fabric softener is no match for my snout. I can decipher mildew in my sleep. FYI, you should be washing your gym clothes in hot water too smelly gym guy.
- Poor Hygiene– You forgot to put deodorant on today huh? Actually, that’s not a question; I was just letting you know.
- Stinky Office Food- Salmon for lunch again? You’re the best! Burnt popcorn? Fantastic! Bacon? Just what I wanted to smell wafting into my office. Nothing says we’re part of the fitness industry quite like bacon.
- Dog Poop– Jo takes a crap on the other side of the yard and I might as well be sniffing by her tail. Don’t get me started on her horrible breath.
- Any Smell That Has Been in My House, Ever- I could work for some sort of smell CSI unit. I can tell you that a cat once peed in this room, a year ago. Yep, even after scrubbing and shampooing, it’s still there. No one else can smell it. Just me. Aren’t I lucky? We cooked dinner in a skillet two days ago and I’m still spraying Febreeze on everything: the air, the furniture,….the dog. My nose can detect smells most can’t even if their face is literally shoved in it. It’s the equivalent of “out damn spot” only stinky.
But all of this misery is well worth the positive. I love delightful smells and I smell them at such an acute level. So while the coffee is pretty delightful for you, it’s freaking fantastic for me. A wonderful perfume is like heaven. A batch of cookies baking is ecstasy. But the number one thing I love about smelling everything is that it has helped me recall so many memories I may have lost in the recesses of my mind should a smell have passed me by.
Pause for a quick smelling lesson
You see, the sense of smell is housed in the brain’s limbic system, an area of the brain closely associated with memory and feeling. It’s actually even referred to as the “emotional brain”. For this reason, a smell can trigger a nearly instant flash back. The olfactory bulb has intimate access to the amygdala, which processes emotion, and the hippocampus, which is responsible for associative learning. Because of all of this tight wiring and conditioned response, you associate a smell to a time, place, or person. And the feelings associated with the memory flood right back. The link is part of your brain’s mapping.
Now that I’m done playing Bill Nye Science Guy, let’s look at two recalls that have happened for me in the past week:
Do I smell mothballs?
Walking to the bus this morning I was hit in the face with a nice burst of mothball. My first thought should have been, why the hell is someone loading their car with mothballs? Seriously, what odor is so bad that mothballs is preferable? Oh my god, what if they have a dead body in the trunk?
Ok, so maybe that shouldn’t have been my first thought….
Instead, the first thing that popped into my mind was my high school friend (who I haven’t talked to in 15 years) and her aunt. Her aunt was legally blind and lived alone. Her house was a mothball bomb. You could smell it out in the yard. When I asked Tara about it, she explained that her aunt was deathly afraid of spiders and since she couldn’t see them, her paranoia got the best of her. The mothballs ensured that spiders (and basically most living things) wouldn’t dare come into her home.
Someone make me some buttermilk biscuits and give me a bucket of butter beans to shell.
On Saturday I was planting my fall/winter garden (better a bit late than never). My peppers are still kicking ass, so the sweet smell of bell pepper was tickling my nose. Then I caught a whiff of vidalia onion. Finally, the trifecta happened; the smell of freshly turned soil edged in. Instantly I was a kid again at my Great Granny Marie’s house. Her and my Grandaddy had a farm: cows, chickens, tractors, the whole nine. They always had a crop of something working and us grand kids were always picking, shelling, shucking, or hauling something.
As soon as my garden worked its memory magic on me, I was instantly hugged with the warmest, happiest, most perfect memories of a childhood well spent and a wonderful matriarch.
I don’t have a picture of my Great Granny on my computer, but here is the next best thing. Here is my Great Granny Kat. She is Granny’s daughter and in my opinion, the most like her. She is also a true matriarch in every sense of the word. I’m sure Granny is smiling down on what a generous, awesome person she continues to be.
At the end of the day, I couldn’t abandon this gift even if I tried, nor would I want to. Yeah, I may have to suffer through a few more cases of halitosis exposure than most, but I also share in an abundance of olfactory inspired memories.
One last nod to what could’ve been….
Stay positive & love your life!
Listening to: The Cure – Sleep When I’m Dead
Eating: Pasta, again.
Drinking: H20, as per usual.
Reading: “Vampyres of Hollywood” by Adrienne Barbeau & Michael Scott