What’s funny about this condition of mine is that I didn’t realize it until middle school, and didn’t really grasp it until high school. It wasn’t until college that I fully understood that I was missing out, and only a year and a half ago was I informed that my disorder had a name: anosmia. (Thanks for your random knowledge, Greg!) It’s not like it’s a sense anyone else can immediately notice is absent, and not being born with it, I never really knew what I was missing. Turns out, this is common for anosmatic people.
I can’t smell. Never could, never will.
My very first recollection of not smelling something was in first grade. As my classmates and I were walking back to class from recess, Angela, my best friend at the time, turned around to hand me a Tinkerbell brand lip gloss that she wanted me to smell. I inhaled deeply through my nose, and caught nothing. Angela was smiling, her eyes gazing at me expectantly.
“It smells good, right?” she asked as she nodded waiting for my approval.
“Mmm, yeah!” I enthusiastically answered, while thinking to myself, “She’s crazy. That stuff doesn’t have a scent at all.”
That was the first of countless times in my life that I’ve pretended to smell something. Nowadays, it’s not ‘cause I’m embarrassed about my condition; it’s just easier. As soon as I let someone know I can’t smell, the next 5-10 minutes are spent describing the how’s and why’s:
You can’t smell anything? (Pretty sure that’s what “I can’t smell” means.)
You’ve never smelled anything before in your life? (Nope. Maybe if you ask again, I’ll change my answer.)
Here, try to smell [insert object of choice]. (Seriously? You think the one thing you hand me is going to miraculously cure years of anosmia?)
Is it just allergies? (No, it’s like being blind. I just can’t smell.)
So, can you taste food? (Ugh, here we go…)
In all seriousness though, if I’m going to be around that person again, I like fulfilling their curiosity. It gives me something unique to talk about, which I rarely can come up with on my own, and it makes it easier for me in the future. No more faking it all the time.
Don’t feel sorry for me though. I believe that it’s more a blessing than anything. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be constantly blasted with scents all day long! I hear my friends and family gripe about nasty smells more than they chirp about good ones. And no picky eating for me! Food is all about texture and temperature. Pretty much, just don’t give me soggy cereal or a cold dinner with course lima beans, and I’ll be happy. Next time you take a bite of food, pinch your nose while you chew and swallow; that’s what I get out of it.
Maybe it’s sad for you, but for someone who has never known any other way, it’s normal, and it’s shaped who I’ve become. Who else can fart in the car, lock all the windows, and truly enjoy the pain they’re causing to their fellow passengers?