The human sense of smell is often seen as insignificant, dismissed as a distant also-ran to our keen eyesight or sensitive hearing. But this sense is keener and more influential on our species than many people realize. (“The Hidden Power of Scent” by Josie Glausiusz, in Scientific American Mind, August/September 2008:38)
I decided on a little adventure! I was excited enough to be up at the same time as the ravens, and into a bowl of ground nuts with a handful of walnuts, a dob of raw sheep yogurt and a glass of home-brewed Illy coffee. Then I was away.
Blissfully unaware that I was to have a shocker of a realization before the early part of the afternoon. People! I’m a dog in a human body!
Okay, let me explain. I drove for 2 hours this morning for the Portarlington Celtic Festival. I got myself lost (that happens a LOT) so I didn’t arrive in town until I was ravenous. The air was clean, the sea, oh, the tang of the sea right up from the deep of the ocean. A short boat trip away from Tasmania, New Zealand and, really, the great Antarctic! Me? Straight to a cafe for eggs and coffee. That was fine. So far, I’m excited…
And everything’s fine.
I cross the road to the park. The major gathering of clans performers, market stalls and food vans. Festive. Bagpipes. Kilts!
I wandered, studying the stalls for something magically Celtic to spend my money on, perfectly prepared to go home penniless. There was nothing. Nothing extraordinary. I wandered and I listened to the pipers but could not get a signal on my measly old iPhone 4 so I have nothing to show you of any of it… besides, I’m just starting to get weird.
I’ve been at the gig for almost an hour, passing families and couples, musicians on their way to somewhere and those kitted out in their most exotic faux Celtic wear, their brogues, their tartan socks and yes, there was a sporran or two, when I realize how fucking uncomfortable I am. I’m in the company of another species and they SMELL WRONG.
I’d been excited! I thought:
But I got:
This is NOT judgmental. The smell wafted stronger and stronger as the crowd swelled. I was a wastrel, an urchin, among the portly. And the obese. Other than several people passing me with instrument cases slung across their backs, 90% of the people were really, really fat. And not in a glorious fat way that some people are. Because some people are really, really big but whatever they eat, it just males them sexy and curvy. No.
This was organ fat and blocked intestines and bowels that had not worked well for decades. It was milk of magnesia and built-up intestinal gas. Parasites and gut microbiome that had devastated entire healthy inner ecosystems. The vans sold Cornish pasties and sugary drinks, and pastry this and bun-that, each slathered in barbecue sauce or tomato sauce. And the lines at each van were monumental. And everyone wandering, or sitting with their legs spread, on caving-in plastic chairs, or smiling, pretending that this was grand, had food in their faces.
Darlings, is this the unexpected price one pays for being amostpaleo? That one’s olfactory senses become sniffer-doggish? Could we work an airport customs baggage line, do you think?
I just had to attend.
Unfortunately, just this once, I had not thought ahead. I had not packed a snack. So I lined up and bought a cardboard container of char-grilled salmon (shut up about its toxicity) with slaw. I paid and was just about to grab my in-case food when the woman serving looked at me as though I was quite mad.
“What?” I asked, smiling.
“You forgot the sauce,” she said, bemused at my stupidity; my obvious senility.
“Mayonnaise, here…” and she took back my container, squirting copious quantities of home-made mayo over everything. “There!” she said, proudly, moving onto her next victim.
I made it to my car and placed the offending package on the passenger seat. You know. Just in-fucking-case?
And there it sat, burning my nostrils with no name brand, genetically modified sunflower oil all the way home.
All the way back to the city I contemplated. I realized, that like pheromones, our bodies emit entire scent stories. I won’t make that mistake again. But… I was REALLY SAD that almost all those people were sick. If they knew it, they hid it, if they didn’t know… No, they knew. We’re not talking kids here. None of the people I am discussing would have been under 40. Really sad how slowly they are going to die.