The Sniff Test

The world is a very smelly place.

Don’t think so?  Just open your refrigerator.

In humans, the sense of smell is far less advanced than that of our animal counterparts.  Sharks, for example, can smell one drop of blood in the water a couple of miles away.

Big deal.  I can smell one rotten potato from the next state.

Interestingly enough, I think women have a much more evolved sense of smell than men.  Here’s a typical scent-related conversation between me and my husband:

Me: “What is that smell?!

Husband: “What smell? I don’t smell anything.

Me: “You can’t smell that? It’s awful!”

And so on.

The kitchen in our home is the repeat offender.  Phantom smells linger in cabinets, in the sink, and, of course, in the refrigerator.  We possibly have the cleanest fridge in the world because at least twice a week all of the drawers get dumped and wiped.

Here’s the crux–there are two super-sniffers in this house.  I consider myself quite skilled, but in truth, I am only an apprentice.  My sniffing skills are nothing compared to the supernatural olfactory ability of……wait for it……The Grandmother.

The Grandmother is a hero of all things scent related.  She can tell our septic tank needs pumped months before any outward signs manifest themselves.  She makes this announcement in the garage.  She will come in from out there and say, “The septic is getting full.  I can smell it in the garage.”  Then me, my son, and my husband will go out, bloodhound like, and sniff around trying to locate the sewer smell which has tipped her off.  The boy and the man give up after only a couple of minutes (wimps) but I stay.  I crouch down in the corner.  I open the storage cabinets.  I lean down under the shelves and ssssnnnnniiiiiiiiifffffffff………and nothing.

I am only the apprentice, after all.

But still, my skills are quite impressive.  One waft of refrigerator air and I can tell you something in there is south of cheese.  Maybe the lettuce has slowly passed from slightly wilted to a moribund state of watery disgusting-ness.  I can smell an apple that is just thinking about rotting.  I can smell the milk crusties around the mouth of the milk jug (yuck!).

This is not the pinnacle of a woman’s sniffing prowess, though.  Even a man could (maybe) smell food that was spoiled. The test comes on food that is still masquerading as good.  That is why, thanks to years of conditioning, I sniff every food item I come into contact with.

If I get a slice of bread, I sniff it.  I sniff the soy milk.  I sniff cheese, and of course I sniff fruits and vegetables.  I have to make sure there aren’t any spoil molecules waiting to jump to life the moment I put the food in my mouth.  I have watched The Grandmother do this all my life, and what can I say?  It seems like a sound practice. (Note: for any of you who may be thinking, “OCD,” allow me to say this–shut up.)

Thinking about this has made me wonder why a man seems so impervious to smell.  The best guess I can come up with is that if a man had sniffing ability equal to a woman, they would be overcome by the smells emanating from their own bodies and would collapse to the floor in a smell-induced coma.  Like I said, that’s just a guess.

Anyway, back to my point.  There is, of course, a dark side to these heightened abilities.  With great power comes great responsibility, right?  It seems like I can always catch a whiff of something unpleasant no matter where we are.  Outside I can smell the neighbors dog pen, which they never ever ever clean.  Even things that should smell good, like perfume, sometimes smell too good.  It’s overpowering.  Oh well.  It’s a gift and a curse.

I guess it’s about time to wrap this up.  I’m in the middle of watching my morning news programs.

That explains the stink.


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