07 March 2012

Smell; 07 March 2012.

There was once a woman who was born without her sense of smell.  She was beautiful, with thick brown hair that cascaded down her back and long eyelashes like a cow.  She had 20/10 vision and could hear a pin fall on carpet, but she could not smell anything.

Because of this, she worked for the local garbage company.  She did not have trouble with the awful smells, after all.  She was offered good money and frequent raises because she never complained.

She was married to a very handsome man, who had been a bachelor for a very long time because he had the smelliest feet in the state.  No girl could stand his stinky feet, save for our woman, who did not even know what a bad smell was.  She loved him because he was handsome and charming, and he sometimes talked to himself when he was concentrating really hard on perfecting his famous pan-seared steak.

The woman and her husband had many children, and it was their mother who changed their diapers and cleaned up their vomit when they were sick.  Of course!  She did not know those things smelled badly.

Yes, she was a good woman.  A good wife and mother who was able to use her special feature to please everyone around her.  She was a happy, fulfilled woman.

But sometimes, she was sad.

Sometimes her children asked for homemade chocolate chip cookies.  She could make these of course, but she longed to join her children anticipate the smell of the treats after the timer reached zero and the oven door freed a wall of hot, cookie air.

Sometimes her husband brought home bouquets of beautiful flowers, but she could only enjoy them by their color, the softness, and the number of petals.

Sometimes she wondered if the food she ate at dinner tasted different to her than the rest of her family.

Sometimes she feared that she herself smelled bad, but couldn’t ever tell.

One day her husband said to her, I’ve found the solution to all of our problems!  I met a doctor at the grocery store today who specializes in body part replacement.  He can give you a new nose.  You’ll be able to gauge whether or not dinner is good, smell the flowers I buy you, the cologne I wear everyday, the leather interior of my new car for work.

The woman was a little scared.  She had lived a long time with her nose.  Quite happily, too.  It was not broken, and it didn’t look funny on her face.  She just couldn’t smell. But she gave it some thought and agreed that a new nose might be better for her family.  She made an appointment for herself right away, and the next day she was in his office for a consultation.  The doctor was a very kind-looking man.  He spoke slowly and asked her what it was she was looking to replace.  Ears?  Toes?  Fingernails?  Belly buttons?  Yes, he could even replace those.

Doctor, it’s my nose, she said.  I cannot smell anything, and I’d very much like a nose that will let me smell.

The doctor wrote some things on his notepad and nodded his head.  Well you will not believe how fortunate this is, he said.  A woman just came by last week asking for a nose without a sense of smell.  It seems her husband has a bit of trouble with odors, poor man.  If you are sure about what you want, I can switch your noses very soon.  This week, even.  And recoveries these days take no time at all - you can return to your normal routine in just a few days.

The woman eagerly agreed, and she had her nose replaced the next day.  When she woke up from surgery she was a little disoriented and the balance of her face felt different.  The doctor gave her a list of instructions to follow, some painkillers, and told her to get a lot of rest.  In just two days, the changes would be complete and everything would feel natural.

And the doctor was right!  During her two days of recovery and adjustment it rained.  But on that third day, she experienced smell for the first time.  She first smelled the fresh air outside and was very excited.

She was a little confused at first - she had to ask her children what exactly it was she was smelling.  Oh that’s the smell of laundry detergent, mom, they’d say.  Yes, toothpaste has a smell.  Your breath smells like that after a brushing, too.  No, garlic has always smelled a little funny.

When her husband came home from work on that first day, he entered the house with seven bouquets of flowers - roses, daisies, lilies, wildflowers, tulips, orchids, and carnations.  The woman smelled each bouquet, and she discovered that she liked the smell of the roses best.  Her husband was pleased, and he promised to buy her roses often from then on.

The woman enjoyed her first day of smelling.  She loved the smell of the chicken dinner she had cooked, the warm, muted scent of bathwater for her children, and the fresh, clean bed sheets she slipped into at the end of the day.  But just as she started to fall asleep, her new nose smelled something it did not like.  The woman did not have the vocabulary to describe this new smell, so she could only say it was unpleasant.  She did not know if it was a little unpleasant or very unpleasant because she had not yet experienced any other unpleasant smells to compare with.

She turned around in the bed to face her husband.  Dear, do you smell that?  What is it?  It’s an unpleasant smell.

Her husband inhaled deep.  Well I’m not sure, sweetheart.  All I can smell are these clean bed sheets and blankets, your face lotion, and my feet of course.

Feet?  The woman had forgotten about her husband’s smelly feet.  Oh well, thank you for telling me.  She rolled back over to face the wall and did her best to fall asleep.  But the smell of his feet wouldn’t let her sleep.  After hours of lying awake, the woman wondered if her husband would consider foot replacement.  She brought it up the next morning before he left for work.

Replace my feet?  Why would I do that?  Her husband fumbled with his tie.

It’s just a thought, the woman said.  I’ve replaced my nose for you, after all.  You know, so I can make sure dinners are more appetizing, and I can fully enjoy the flowers you give me, and smell your cologne, and the new leather of your car.

I guess, her husband said.  But do I really have to replace my feet?  I’m scared of doctors, after all.

I suppose not, the woman said.  I’m sorry for asking that of you, it was wrong.  Can we just wear socks to bed instead?

The woman’s husband smiled.  Sure I can do that just fine, sweetheart.

That day, the woman went back to her job with the garbage company.  Her nose disagreed with the smells of her job, but she was glad for these new bad smells.  She realized that her job did not smell as bad as her husband’s feet.  As she drove around the landfill in the bulldozer she thought about the conversation she had with her husband that morning.  Was it so different to ask for his feet to be replaced than to ask her to replace her nose?  Was it an outrageous request?  There couldn’t possibly be a downside for her husband to replace his feet.  It would benefit everyone, just like her new nose.

That night before bed, the woman read her book.  She looked up from her reading for a few minutes as her husband got into bed.  He was not wearing socks, as he had promised.
Dear, where are your socks?

Oh sweetheart, you know I can’t sleep with socks on.  Just don’t think about the smell, that’s what I do.  I’ve lived with this for years, and what could possibly be wrong?  He sunk into the covers and turned his table lamp off.

The woman closed her book and turned her own light off.  She laid in bed and turned away from her husband.

The next day was a Sunday.  While her husband stayed at home and worked in the garden with the children, the woman went for a walk through the neighborhood.  As she walked, she enjoyed the light breeze and the outside smells.  The sky was clear and empty of clouds; it was not likely to rain again for a long time.  The air smelled differently than it had the first day she could smell.  It was a nice smell, she supposed.


  1. return of snifflesMarch 7, 2012 at 9:45 PM

    wait, that's it? How does it end? Am I missing something?