Smell This

Over the last few weeks, I have gradually, bit by bit, in increments too tiny to notice, but growing steadily along with the fear and trepidation I have about it – I have been losing my sense of smell. This is alarming because I am a great lover of scent and smells and nothing brings memories back hard, fast and unedited than an unexpected hit of fragrance.

My nose is like a time machine. Some industrial cleaner residue coming off the floor of a recently mopped office building and I am transported against my will to the boy’s high school I had to attend during the summer, because my grades were not good enough to allow me the freedom of June/July/August that other children took for granted. I smell the artificial ammoniated pine/lemon that is the unmistakable odor of egalitarian shared spaces of government buildings like schools and the DMV and I suddenly without warning am reliving the memory of the first time a boy told me I had a nice ass.

I love that my nose is sensitive, and in general, all smells are important to me, even though they might not be what is considered pleasant. When my beautiful tiny Chihuahua/pomeranian Gudrun has been chewing on a toy for many hours, I can smell all the air she has swallowed in the process in her eggy sour and sulfurous, a-dog-satisfied emissions. Of course it’s farty, but I love my little one, so the farts smell good. I might not like another dog’s farts, but my dogs farts represent her quality of life, so they reflect well on me.

Whether its due to allergies or the santa ana winds or just general malaise, my sense of smell has deserted me. it’s tragic to the nth degree, like Beethoven going deaf, as I believe I am a genius at smelling things, and by proxy, tasting things. As my sense of smell diminishes, I find less and less joy in food – craving vinegar and mustardy dishes – or painfully sweet desserts – something strong to jolt my senses into awareness. Like my nose and mouth need jumper cables attached to a bottle of hot sauce.  I was missing out on the subtleties of flavor, the things you can only taste when you are really paying attention and listening with your palate.  For weeks I have had radio silence in my nose and mouth. Bummer.

Today, like a holiday gift, my sense of smell is back, and I only noticed it because I had been wearing my favorite jeans and I was squatting down (trying to get some new pink chaps zipped – there I said it – chaps) and I smelled something really not good. It was yeasty and yellowy and sulfurous and ammoniated but not in an pine lemon industrial cleanser way, more of an organic urine way, and also with a dash of cumin and onion and black pepper and then I realized, the smell, the awful smell, was me, or rather, it was my jeans.

I had not washed them in ages, I don’t even remember the last time. As a matter of fact, I don’t think I have ever washed them as they came from Barney’s co-op and so you know what jeans from there are like, and how are you supposed to wash that stuff anyway? They are so pricey and stiff and ass tight that if the weave of the denim even touches water they’ll be hard to put on, and god forbid – they shrink in the dryer  – you will never ever get them over your legs again.

I never wash my jeans, nor do I dry clean them. I just try to rotate them enough where the dirt in them just kind of loses its dirtiness or something. I don’t know. I am just lazy too. Anyway, since I had no sense of smell, I didn’t realize how filthy these jeans were, and when I realized that the stench was my jeans I was immediately freaked out because I have been wearing them for weeks now out in public. So if you saw me out and smelled something bad, I am apologizing now. That was me. And no I haven’t washed them yet.

14 thoughts on “Smell This

  1. Some good horse radish or wasabi will blast that sensitivity right back into your nose (and sinuses). I think it’s the equivalent of ECT (Electro Convulsive Therapy) for the sense of smell.

  2. From now on when people tell me I’m crazy for doing my writing at 4 am, I have the fab Cho to site as an example of why it’s not crazy. Or if it IS crazy, it’s crazy good!

  3. Sounds like you might have a sinus infection, might wanna get that checked out. And lol I know exactly the jean smell you mean, unfortunately. WHY DO JEANS DO THIS?!

  4. Zinc schmink! I think that the lousy LA smog robbed you of your sense of smell. Glad to hear it is back! I can’t believe you don’t wash your jeans. Can’t you avoid shrinkage by washing with cold water and letting them dry out slowly without a drier? I don’t know. I don’t think about these things. but it seems like, in my pee wee brain that harmful bacteria could build up in your jeans if you don’t wash them, but maybe not. This is all out of my area of expertise. I do agree that any stench coming from your own body doesn’t bother you (it means you are alive), or your dog’s stench. But other people’s smells?, that is usually a different story, unless you like them very very much. Same with their dog. As always, an enlightening post, Margaret.

  5. Mighty glad you’re better! Another bid for acupuncture if your sense of smell goes away again – I’m hyper-sensitive to smell as well – very acute sense of smell… my sister had anosmia (That’s what they call it) from over-use of Afrin and acupuncture brought it back. Took little while, but, success!!

    AND – as for your jeans – I have a solution! I’m a theatre costumer. GREAT costumer’s trick – beats the HELL out of that nasty Febreeze crap – get a little spray bottle, fill it with cheap vodka. Spray your non-wash clothes well with it – especially the stinkiest spots, and they will be deodorized and germs are gone – and they won’t shrink up on you. It’s the best for silk and othr dry-cleanables. I used it on a cape made of 20 yards of raw silk worn by a big, gorgeous, sweaty actor – he was very grateful. It works!


  6. Margaret,
    Wash your pants, but do not put in the dryer or they will shrink! Just hang up overnight and they will dry. Washing in cold water is good too!! As for the nose senses-does sound like sinuses! Get yourself a netti pot-it will clear your sinuses!!

  7. I heard you can freeze your jeans and it will kill odor causing bacteria without having to wash them. So, throw them in the freezer for a couple days in a plastic bag and see if that works.

  8. Hopefully, you will get that sense back soon and like my father used to say of me, be able “to smell a mouse fart in the other end of the house”. You appreciating a dog’s farts makes me feel less odd about not minding skunks (not liking the smell, but not minding).
    If its not back soon, you can come to Dallas to let your nose recuperate – my last roommate said his sense of smell was far better living here than when back in LA.

  9. Here’s to hoping your sense of smell fully returns!

    If you dare wash your jeans, (I understand the raw denim craze makes people a little nuts), I second the vodka trick and the freezer trick but if you must get them wet, wear them into as hot a bathtub as you can stand and then let them dry on your body. If part of the appeal of raw denim is the individual fit letting them dry on you won’t take away from that.

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