It’s difficult to describe how I came to realize that I have no sense of smell. There were moments of discovery: scratch-n-sniff stickers, accusations of smelly shoes, a scent-happy science teacher. But I can’t really identify the moment of realization, of, “Hey! I seem to be missing something…” in addition to self-esteem and the ability to sympathize with strangers.

Nor do I really remember when I decided to start telling people, to come out of the anosmia closet, at it were. As a junior in high school I know I had to admit it in front of the class in order to prove to yet another scent-happy science teacher that I couldn’t perform the IDing-by-smell portion of the chemistry exam. There were vials of semi-liquids of mucoidal appearance and necrotic coloration that I lifted beneath my nostrils to inhale with no effect. But I feel I had to have admitted it to people before that – my friends and family, maybe.

My family would have been in on the process with me. I have no idea when they knew, if I told them or if they told me of if we all figured it out together. I wonder if there were clues for them that I didn’t know about. My brother and I shared a room and, well, I’m a rather flatulent person. Surely he must have known when I never once SBDed myself out of the room.

Then again, I used to always just fake it. I would take my cues from everyone else and react accordingly, not unlike Lindsay Lohan on SNL. Some of my high school buddies used this to make fun of me once. We were riding in a car and suddenly they started hacking and gagging. We grew up in farm country, so passing by a freshly-manured and incredibly foul-smelling field was nothing new. Or even a decaying deer along the road. So as they coughed and wailed about the smell, I did too. For several miles this went on. Then they told me there’d been no smell and they laughed at me.

Because it’s not okay to make fun of a blind or deaf person, but its okay to pick on someone who can’t smell I guess. But that’s the only time I can think of in which being anosmic has bothered me at all. Nevertheless, for something that’s kind of a big deal in my life, you’d think I’d remember when I figured it out. But I don’t, and that strikes me as odd.


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