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.