Lost in Suburbia classic column: Winning by a nose
Columns share an author’s personal perspective.
Superman is able to see through walls.
Spiderman can detect things with his spider-sense.
Me? I can smell something in the next county. Yes, it’s true. I am Super Smell Woman (not to be confused with the significantly less appealing, Super Smelly Woman). I can detect unseen mold under a bathtub mat. I can sniff out spoiled milk from behind refrigerator doors. I am Smellzilla.
Like any superpower, this particular trait can sometimes be a gift and sometimes a curse. It’s not a bad thing when the smell in question is something good like flowers or fresh baked cookies. Most of the time though, it’s super-nasty.
“The dog did something bad downstairs,” I informed my husband as we lay in bed.
“What are you, Kreskin?” he asks.
“I can smell it.”
At that point he knows it is his job to go down and investigate, because if I get too close to the nasty smell, it’s curtains for me. Superman has Kryptonite. For me, it’s horrid-smelling dog things.
On the plus side, my super sense of smell makes it hard for my kids to get away with anything.
“You had cookies,” I say to my daughter when she comes to kiss me goodnight. “You were supposed to have fruit for a snack.”
She was flabbergasted. “How did you know?”
“Mommies know everything!” I informed her mysteriously. She thinks I am omniscient. Little does she know I can smell the chocolate on her breath.
Like most superheroes, I feel it is in my best interest to keep my powers a secret. To most people, I am simply, “Tracy Beckerman, suburban mother of two with an average sense of smell.” Only my family knows the olfactory phenomenon that I really am.
But then one day the unthinkable happened and the truth came out.
As I waited at the teller window at the bank, I said, “I smell maple syrup. Did someone have pancakes for breakfast?”
The teller shook her head no. The teller at the next window shook her head no. The teller at the third window shook her head no. But then the customer at the third window blurted out, “You can SMELL that?”
“That’s unbelievable! I have maple syrup-flavored lip-gloss on,” she announced loudly to the whole bank. Then she whipped her lip-gloss out of her handbag and held it up for proof. “Maple Syrup, see!”
Everyone turned and looked at the freak who could smell maple syrup lip-gloss across the room.
“I have a good nose,” I said sheepishly and slunk out of the bank.
Feeling like a freak of nasal nature, I went off to an exercise class to try to work off my maple-syrup induced-embarrassment. As I contorted my body into some obscure stretch, I leaned over to my neighbor and whispered, “Who comes up with these moves?”
From across the room, the instructor yelled, “This is a standard pilates move.”
“You could HEAR that?” I bellowed. “I said that in a whisper.”
“I have super hearing,” she admitted.
I was so excited. A comrade! A cohort! A fellow freak!
“So, you’re a superhero?” I asked.
“No,” she said. “I’m a mom.”
This is a repeated Lost in Suburbia column, which has appeared in GateHouse Media newspapers since 2008. As Tracy Beckerman’s main column is shifting focus - her kids are grown and she has moved back to the city - we are rerunning her earlier work for readers who may have missed these the first time around. You can follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LostinSuburbiaFanPage/ and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/tracybeckerman.