Super Sniffer

The way things smell is very important to me. I have a super sensitive nose. I can only buy certain mascara and lipsticks because I can smell them on my own face. I can smell mold on food before anyone can see it. I am what is known as a Super Sniffer.

During a recent car trip, the smell of rest stop industrial pink soap makes me miserable enough to consider carrying my own soap around like germaphobe. It’s not the germs (although rest stop bathrooms can be disgusting) that bug me, it’s the smell on my hands. It invades the car. One of my ways of coping is to slather on nice hand cream as a counter smell.

My current favorite is Tuscan Blood Orange by Pacifica. Every time I use it I think “I am now the best smelling person in this house (car, rest stop etc.)” My family indulged my visiting two different crunchy hippie stores this past weekend so I could find some. My nose will not tolerate drugstore brand or (shudder) Bath & Body Works.

I also still use incense even though I am way past being bohemian. 20+ years of burning a stick of jasmine once a week makes our house smell like our house. Although a friend did come in once when it was burning and assumed we were smoking pot and trying to hide it from the kids. That was an interesting snapshot into his past.

I recently found an appreciation for my Super Sniffer when heard about some new research into detecting disease with breath tests. Turns out the chemicals in your breath, and other body odors, may be able to provide early clues for some cancers. I was not surprised by this because, being formerly poor and without health insurance, I had once visited Chinese doctors who diagnose by examining things like your breath, skin, nails and hair.

I am interested to see how traditional medicine can be formalized through research.

Even more intriguing is thinking about how the phrase “Does it pass the sniff test?” may have roots in our physiology. This idiom pops up in politics all the time to stand in for the vague, undefinable, something-is-just-not-right moments both real and fabricated. Who knows what will evolve if science eventually figures out how to sniff out disease.

Maybe we can crowdsource funding for a breathalizer that analyzes Lie and Obfuscation Content instead of Blood Alcohol Content. I’d donate $25 to that. Wouldn’t you?