Monday, March 20, 2006

Everything smells like vanilla.

This is not some optimistic statement about my current state of affairs. I mean that literally, there is something strange going on with my nose and everything really does smell like vanilla.

I first noticed this at an engagement party I attended yesterday.

My grandmother embraced me and the smell of vanilla beans wafted over me.

Me: Wow, granny, have you been baking?
Granny: [strange look] Well, I made a beef brisket today, why?

Then I noticed that my party sandwiches (tuna and egg) smelled like vanilla as well and that seemingly, every man, woman, and child at this event was wearing vanilla perfume.

Something was seriously wrong.

When I got home I did a quick PubMed search to see if anything like this had turned up in the medical literature. (PubMed is a medical database where abstracts to all major medical science journals are published.)

I found information on the benefits of vanilla in testing for certain brain lesions in rats. Also, using sugar as a reward, cockroaches can learn to distinguish between the smell of vanilla extract and peppermint.

While the smell of car fumes is infinitely more pleasant when scented vanilla, if this is a permanent state of affairs, there are many smells I would really miss. Like coffee beans. And chocolate cake. And pine needles.

I think that the source of my problem was prolonged exposure to an overly-cologned male who sat next to me on the subway yesterday morning. My olfactory receptors went into overdrive. At first my nose just stung and my eyes watered. But pretty soon I became desensitized and couldn’t smell anything.

As if the threat of bird flu wasn’t enough, here is one more reason why we should all go out and buy masks right away.


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