Bad Dates

[I’m bringing this over from my old blog, because I still kinda like it.  Enjoy!]

Last night was one of the few times that I wish my nose worked.  For those who don’t already know, I have no sense of smell.  I was born without it.  (If you’ve already heard me go on about this, skip ahead to the word “So!”)

So! Having no sense of smell is called being “anosmic”. For your reference, here’s a quick list of the five senselessnesses:

Don’t see? You’re blind.
Don’t hear? You’re deaf.
Don’t taste? You’re ageusic.
Don’t smell? “Gooble, Gobble, One of Us!”
…and lastly…
Don’t feel? You’re Republican. (Kidding. It’s really called topagnosis.)

There are several common causes of anosmia:  head injury, rhinitis, cocaine abuse—none of which I’ve had.  I’ve been to an M.D. or two, had my brain examined with an MRI, even had a little snakey camera cruise up into my head and look around (the headlight of which I could see throwing light across the backs of my eyes!), and the professional consensus is:  I can’t smell.  No apparent cause; it just ain’t there.  Not a scent.  Not fresh-baked cookies, not perfume, not even the smell of victory.

Having grown up without it, I rarely ever feel like I’m lacking something.  I miss it as much as you miss having ESP.  Sure, it’s a cool trick, but it seems like a luxury more than a necessity.  In fact, not having smell is usually a blessing.  Gaining it at this point would probably just be a nuisance.  If someone says, “Ohhhh, you wish you could smell this right now,” I think, ‘Ok, if you say so.’  But later when everyone around is recoiling in agony or running out of the room because the dog cut one, suddenly I’m Doctor Manhattan striding through Vietnam.  It’s awesome.

That said, there are three big downsides to being anosmic.  The first is that sometimes a friend will come over to my place and say something like, “Dude, why does it smell like a fat guy in here?”
FIX: I shower and try to keep the windows at least cracked.

The second is when I don’t know if a shirt I’ve worn for only a few hours is hamper-bound or good for a second go.
FIX:  Learn to love laundry.  99% of the time, I choose over-washing over over-wearing.

The third situation, and the motivation for this entry, deals with food and its going bad.

Unless a food product has undergone some visible change in its state (like liquid-to-solid or solid-to-life), I need a clear expiration date to tell me when it’s gone bad.  Without that, I run the risk of violent gut-wrenching food poisoning or, worse, throwing away perfectly good raviolis.  That’s why one of the things I hate most is when a food company puts an expiration date on a package in some code that can only be understood by the employees of said company.  Why would they do that?!  Aren’t we, the consumers, the ones who need to know if it’s gone bad?

If Princella, Canner of Yams in Light Syrup, just can’t hang with the Gregorian Date, that’s fine—use the Julian day; use the Hebrew calendar; stamp a monkey or a boar on it—just something that corresponds to a calendar on Earth.  If that won’t work and they just HAVE to create their own language, they should AT LEAST put a conversion table on their website.  Hell, go all Golden Age on us and include a decoder ring if you want to—just don’t keep it a secret.

Now, I’d like to present two lists of Food Products presently represented in my kitchen.

LIST 1:  Products that I love and support because their expiration dates are something reasonable like “15JAN2013”: Del Monte spinach, Bertolli pasta sauce, Bumble Bee tuna, Miller’s raw honey, Quaker instant oatmeal, Kellogg’s Smart Start, Skippy, Triscuits, Ovaltine, Cliff Bars, Eggs, and of course, Pillsbury Cinammon Rolls. (Frozen foods are moot.)

LIST 2:  Products (and their actual expiration codes) that, though good when good, have been packaged by people that couldn’t care less if you’re up all night on the can (get it?!). They are: the aforementioned Princella yams (“2SWC2 43441” – what?), Glory collard greens (“CL29Z” – come on!), Lawry’s mesquite marinade (“9023M15” – what is that, a stardate?!), S&W sliced beets (“1230L 11:17” – great, I know the time it’s going to go bad; I just have to guess the year), Whole Foods salsa verde (“01-04004-0305”), and Wolfgang Puck’s clam chowder (19 characters long, none of which resembles a date). And the biggest offender: not one—I repeat NOT ONE—of my bottles of wine even HAS an expiration date.  Inexcusable.

If you’re lucky and you’re eating between normal business hours, most cans have a 1-800 number that you can call with questions. Though it’s a hassle, I’ve called a few of them.  The call goes like this.

ME: Hi mam, I’d like to know what this code on my beans means, please.
OPERATOR: Well, that first letter is the month they were canned, those next three numbers designate the cannery, the next three numbers are the year that they expire, and that last letter represents the CEO’s pick for this year’s Superbowl.  Oh, and if there’s an ampersand at the end, it means you need to read it backwards.
ME: Can I just please read it to you and you can tell me if they’ve gone bad?
OPERATOR: (whispering) Are you trying to get us both killed?! I’ve said too much already!
ME: Oh, hang on a second, I’ve got another call.
OPERATOR: Please hurry! I think someone’s coming!
ME: Yellow.
OPERATOR: Still me.
ME: Oh sorry.
ME: Yellow.
VOICE: Yes, could I speak with Mr. or Mrs. Phirman?
ME: (affecting a deeper voice) This is Mrs. Phirman.
VOICE: Uh, yes Mrs. Phirman, I am calling from the gas company. We have reason to believe there is a leak in your apartment. A technician will be coming by momentarily to take care of you- IT!  Take care of it!  Someone will be coming by shortly to murder… your gas leak.
ME: Huh oh!
(click over)
ME: Brandy! You’ve GOT to get out of there!
OPERATOR: My name’s not Brandy. And everything’s fine; it was just David going to the bathroom.
ME: But a guy just-

A MAN WITH A GUN KICKS IN MY FRONT DOOR.

MAN WITH GUN:  Somebody asking for an expiration date? (cocks the gun)  How about today?
ME:  Hey, can I just do one thing before you murder me… for… really no good reason?
MAN WITH GUN:  Sure. What is it?
ME: This!

I LUNGE FOR THE GUN AND HE SHOOTS ME SIX TIMES IN THE CHEST.  I DROP.  HE STANDS OVER MY FALLEN BODY AND NOTICES THAT THE POOL OF MY BLOOD IS ORANGE.  HE LEANS DOWN AND WIPES HIS FINGER THROUGH IT.  IT’S NOT BLOOD.  HE TASTES IT.

MAN WITH GUN:  Light syrup?!

HE SEES THE CAN OF PRINCELLA SWEET POTATOES RIDDLED WITH BULLETS IN MY SHIRT POCKET.

MAN WITH GUN:  ¡Me llamo Mama!

MY EYES POP OPEN.  I KICK HIM SQUARE IN THE YAMS, AND HE GOES DOWN.  I TAKE THE GUN.

MAN WITHOUT GUN:  Didn’t see that coming.
ME:  I know.
MAN WITHOUT GUN:  Let me just ask you one thing.
ME:  Yeah?
MAN WITHOUT GUN:  Is it just me or does it kinda smell like a fat guy in here?

(close up)

ME:  It’s just you.

BLACKOUT