The phantom smell

You know how most people have five senses? Not me. I was born with only four. For some reason I was not blessed with the ability to smell, nor the ability to see dead people.

To say my sense of smell is non-existent would not be completely true. I sometimes get quick, horrible whiffs of things. Wet dogs. Poopy diapers. Rotten food. And the worst… (for some reason) I can smell processed tomato products on a person’s breath and body for days after they’ve consumed it.

Most of the time though, I will be the only one in the room shrugging my shoulders as everybody else is groaning and ducking for cover from some horrible smell. It gets me in trouble sometimes. I have a dog. I have a kid. I am a bachelor. My house is bound to start stinking. I have a smelly-yummy-yum candle in every corner of every room and if I have company coming over, I light all 492 of them. Just to be safe.

My lack of smelling ability also gets me in trouble in that every girl I’ve ever been with often went to great lengths to make themselves smell good for me, and I’ve never noticed. I’ve learned to just compliment their smell the moment I see them, even though I don’t smell a flippin’ thing.

I’ve also had to learn that just because I can’t smell it (you know what “it” is), doesn’t mean that other people can’t smell it. So never, ever can I let one slip out quietly when company is over just because I’m confident in its odorlessness. I’ve been burned too many times. Lost too many friends. Sent too many people to the hospital.

My first wife had the nose of a bloodhound. She could sniff out rotten food an hour before it started to stink. She could follow a smelling trail from the bedroom to the pantry and immediately discover what went bad. My second wife was also very talented in this regard. Me, let’s just say you could shove fetid milk curds up my nose and I wouldn’t know they were there. But the other day… I got this horrible whiff of something rotten. And then, as quick as it hit me, it was gone.

Over the next five days I kept getting that same whiff, only worse each time. And due to my horrible sense of smell, it never lasted long enough for me to pinpoint its source. I looked everywhere. I turned the kitchen upside down. And with time, the spontaneously overpowering odor got so bad that I threw away 90% of the food in my fridge, cleaned every shelf, cleared out my pantry, swept, mopped, and scrubbed every surface I could think of. I don’t know what did the trick, but the phantom smell finally disappeared.

Or so I thought. The next day I was walking in for my usual semi-hourly handful of M&Ms and it hit me again. This time, it had grown so horrible that it rendered me unconscious. While I was out, I had a vision. An unknown woman’s voice told me where the smell was coming from (I’m pretty sure it was Roma Downey). When I awoke, I walked straight to the sink and stuck my nose right down into the garbage disposal and inhaled as deeply as I could. Again, black out. I lay for hours, unconscious, smiling into a black nothingness. Even in unconsciousness I remember being elated that Roma Downey had such a good sniffer and like a guardian angel would always be there to help me with phantom smells.

I arose and turned on the garbage disposal. I first ran an 8 quart pan of boiling hot water down it. Next, I dropped a lemon in followed by a handful of mint leaves. I even dropped a few old photographs of me and my ex for good measure. When I was done, I stuck my nose back in, took a whiff… and nothing. Sometimes smelling nothing is a good thing.

Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing

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Dan Pearce is an American-born author, app developer, photographer, and artist. This blog, Single Dad Laughing, is what he's most known for, with more than 2 million daily subscribers as of 2017. Pearce writes mostly humorous and introspective works, as well as his musings which span from fatherhood, to dating, to life, to the people and dynamics of society. Single Dad Laughing is much more than a blog. It's an incredible community of people just being real and awesome together!