I can’t smell. I take it back – I can only smell three things: rain, coffee, and hand sanitizer. Not gonna lie, this lack of a sense does have its perks. I can’t smell lingering cigarette smoke in a hotel room or rental car. I can’t smell when someone overdoes their application of perfume or cologne. I can’t smell the famous B.O. surrounding the men’s hockey locker room.
However, there are some definite downsides. I can’t smell pine needles, despite the best efforts of nature lovers to help me. I can’t smell when my refrigerated leftovers are no longer fit for consumption, so I have to ask my roommates. And as I found out yesterday, I can’t smell the smoke when I accidentally set something on fire in my apartment.
Here’s the scenario: one of my roommates and I recently learned how to make homemade tortilla chips. You cut up your tortillas, lightly coat the pieces in oil, and broil them a bit on a baking sheet in the oven. So yesterday, after several hours of feverishly studying for finals and watching Arrested Development on Netflix by myself, I realized that I wanted to eat chips and salsa. Being in possession of a large quantity of salsa but no chips, I set out to make homemade chips for the second time. I put my lightly-oiled tortilla pieces in the oven and set it to broil. Then I sat down on the couch to squeeze in a little bit more reading for my final Spanish essay.
I don’t think that much time passed. I mean, it wasn’t like I got lost in this book that I’m only reading for school. After a few paragraphs, I got up to check on my chips. It was then that I noticed the smoke seeping out of the closed oven door, and out of all the stove burners as well. I immediately turned off the oven and tried to open the oven door, but that just made the smoke go from seeping to billowing. I shut the oven door, ran to the window and opened it as wide as it would go, then ran back to the oven, opened it and grabbed my smoking chips as fast as I could, and ran to the window. I held the baking sheet out of the window for a few seconds, polluting the clear Colorado air with tortilla smoke. Then I set the sheet down and began running around the kitchen swatting the air with my towel, trying to coax the clouds of smoke out of the window on the other side of the room.
It was at this point that the fire alarm went off. My ears were pierced with the sounds of the shrieking alarm and a computerized woman’s voice calmly repeating “Fire. Fire.” (This was a sophisticated fire alarm.) Filled with shame, I grabbed my keys and entered the hallway, preparing to take the stairs (not the elevator) down to the front office to confess that I was the arson. As soon as I reached the stairs, the alarm and the computerized woman’s voice mercifully shut off, before anyone had a chance to seriously consider evacuation.
A few hours later, after the smoke had wafted out my window and into the sunset, I twirled and spun around my apartment spraying a body mist into the air to get rid of the smoky scent that I assumed my roommates would be able to smell when they got back. I don’t know what the body mist smells like. Hopefully better than burned tortillas.
(Originally posted 11/12/13)