When I had my septoplasty done around 8 years ago, the doctor listed the benefits of the operation: increased sense of taste and smell and the hopeful disappearance of the cyst that had popped up on my neck a few years prior.
“You’re gonna feel so much better! You’re gonna have energy!”
None of that happened…except for the increased sense of smell.
It hasn’t quite been the benefit I had expected. I’m constantly picking up on putrid aromas.
In all actuality, I can’t totally blame the operation. I’ve been able to detect despicable fumes for years now, all the way back to when I was a kid. I even wrote a whole chapter about it in my non-best selling memoir that y’all didn’t bother to read. But the operation really seemed to kick my hyperosmia into high gear.
The latest scene of sardine smells takes place at my new job. My trainer/co-worker has driven me around in his car on a few occasions to tour the grounds. When I first stepped into his car, I noticed the distinct smell of puke. And when he turned on the air conditioner, the gust of air propelled the smell right up my nose. It was sharp and acidic, like rotten meat marinated in orange juice. I was assaulted, offended, nauseated. I wondered if he smelled it. I wondered if maybe there was no phantom puke at all and perhaps I was just going nuts. Why wasn’t he saying anything about the upchucked upholstery? I wanted to say, “Hey, dude, I think someone hurled in your Honda.” But I didn’t out of politeness.
I wondered if maybe someone had barfed in the backseat years ago and the lingering aroma had weaved into the fabric, settling just above the surface, forgotten by many, but waiting to pounce on the next unsuspecting passenger with one superior sniffer. It’s kind of like blood. You can wash it away but the stain will always be there.
While I shook it off during that first car ride, the next time I got into his car, there it was again: sharp stabbing gut juice. I knew I couldn’t have been imagining it. All the while, he carried on with one of his millions of inane stories, oblivious to the stank curled in the weave of his vomit wagon. Was he just used to the smell? He had previously told me his hearing had deteriorated. Perhaps his sense of smell was also dissipating.
While I’m all for road trips to get out of the office for a little while, I’m not sure if it’s worth holding my breath for the duration of a car ride and possibly passing out in the pungency. It looks like it doesn’t matter where I go, whether it be out of state for college or in a co-worker’s smelly SUV, the sharting specter is still stalking me.