In the animal kingdom, a sense of smell is a useful tool. We can tell whether our food is fresh, our clothes are clean… and we might even choose a mate by their scent. Soon, marketers may try to attract your nose to their products. But like too much noise, too many smells may be a turn-off. Great Lakes Radio Consortium commentator Tom Dunkel doesn’t mind that he’ll miss out on this new kind of pollution:
In the animal kingdom, a sense of smell is a useful tool. We can tell whether our food is fresh, our clothes are clean… and we might even choose a mate by their scent. Soon, marketers may try to attract your nose to their products. But like too much noise, too many smells may be a turn-off. Great Lakes Radio Consortium commentator Tom Dunkel doesn’t mind that he’ll miss out on this new kind of pollution.
The nose knows more than we think it does. Studies have shown humans secrete the same chemical scents called “pheromones” that trigger things like aggression and mating in the animal kingdom. What does that mean? Well, it means that by mixing the smells of lavender and pumpkin pie, researchers in Chicago were able to sexually arouse a test group of men… a test group of, apparently, very lonely, embarrassed men. Its private industry’s job is to try and cash in on scientific discoveries. Which explains why a patent has been issued for a little device that attaches to a TV, computer, or stereo. The sole purpose of this little gizmo is to generate odors that enhance what we see and hear on our TVs, computers, and stereos. Yes…. It’s the Dawn of Smell-o-Vision! And it’s only a matter of time until it produces a new, annoying form of environmental pollution.
Someday soon grocers will be spritzing supermarket aisles with chocolate-based fumes…. fumes that fill shoppers with a heroin-like craving for Coco Puffs. Airline industry scientists will discover that the combined smell of fruitcake and varnish make passengers actually want to stand in line for hours at ticket counters. We’ll be begging for flight delays. Some future presidential candidate will get catapulted into office by winning the scratch-n’-sniff-campaign-button vote.
Fortunately, I’m going to miss out on this brave, new, environmentally manipulated world. I’m going to miss out because I’m one of about 3 million Americans who have no sense of smell. People like you…. normal people…. enjoy a symphony of 10,000 different odors. My world of smell is a one-note song: ammonia. Eye-watering, sinus-scorching ammonia…the nasal equivalent of having ears that can only hear blood-curdling screams. As handicaps go, I admit I have a minor one. Ragged men don’t stand on street corners mumbling, “Hey, buddy, can you spare a dollar for a guy who’s never smelled fresh-baked bread?” But being born without a sense of smell has very practical, very anxiety producing implications. I have left chicken pot pies baking in the oven all night long…. cooked them no, incinerated them – until a neighbor stopped by to ask if my kitchen was on fire. Likewise, I can’t tell if I’ve worn a suit two times or 20 times. Imagine sitting in a business meeting, brimming over with earth-shattering, big ideas…but convinced nobody will listen to those Big Ideas because you smell like a high school gym locker.
I long ago accepted the fact that my nose can’t distinguish a rose from road kill. But after all these years – not being able to smell has suddenly developed a bright side: No company is going to manipulate my environment. I am totally immune to Smell-o-Vision. Better yet: No matter what those wacky, test-group scientists do, I will never, ever, get sexually aroused by a piece of pumpkin pie.