November 17, 2008

The Smell of Cats

Here's what I learned today. You know how humans have five different types of taste? Wait a minute, you didn't know that? Oh, good Lord. Now we've got to go even further back. Ok, let's do this one quickly. Human taste occurs on the tongue. There are five - and only five - basic types of human taste: Sweet, Salty, Sour, Bitter and Umami (which is basically savory, or meaty).

Everything you eat is simply a combination of those five tastes. Get it? Good. Now let's move on to smell, because this is the part that I learned today.

In the same way that humans have different types of tastes, we also have different receptors for smell. But whereas there are five types of tastes, there are 1000 genes for smell. Yes, one thousand. And it's not like there is any crossover; every single one of those 1,000 olfactory receptors are triggered by a separate and unique odor. That means we can sense, literally, millions upon millions of different smells. It's almost baffling, ain't it.

Keep in mind, we're just talking about humans. Apparently cats have a sense of smell that is fourteen times better than us mere homonids. Which may explain my girlfriend.

As many of you know, my girlfriends name is Cat. As you may also remember, Cat has a cat. His name is Fraidy. He's a fraidy cat. He's also a cute little pistol, but maybe not the brightest crayon on the porch. I'm not sure if he's hard of hearing or just did too much blow as a kitty, but when you call his name he lifts up his head and looks the other way. Fortunately, his intelligence has nothing to do with my girlfriend.

What does have to do with my girlfriend is their amazing sense of smell. And I really think it's all because her name is Cat.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that just because you have an animal name all of the sudden you resemble the animal. If you suddenly started calling me Fido, I don't think I'd begin to take a crap on the neighbors lawn. But you know how pets sometimes start to resemble their owners? Well, I think things are going all Freaky Friday on us here at the home front.

Fraidy and Catherine have become surprisingly similar in so many ways. First of all, they both lick their lips the same way after they finish eating and I'm still not sure who started it and who's just copying. They both also show those big, round innocent looking eyes after secretly snacking on something yummy (and not sharing it with me). They both jump in fear at any randomly loud sound and they both sit and look blankly into space in the same exact manner. As if none of that is enough, they both have also developed a bafflingly intense sense of smell.

Both of these Cats can smell a microscopic piece of anchovy fillet from five miles away, with a blindfold on and one nostril tied behind their backs.

Its uncanny.

Were you with somebody who was smoking today? Cat (the human one) might ask me randomly one day.

No, I'd probably reply. But yesterday I was in a building where somebody had once smoked a cigarette and now my shirt is in a gym bag in the trunk of my car five blocks away.

I knew I smelled something, she'd say and turn back to whatever she was typing on Facebook.

Because of this smelling trait, I am somewhat convinced that Catherine has, in fact, become a cat. And this is starting to make my life a little bit difficult. Or, at the very least, a little paranoid. Take today for instance.

We just finished dinner and I was in the final touches of cleaning up. Catherine was in the other room on the couch when she yelled over, "do you smell something funky?"

Let's keep in mind that my sense of smell is practically non-existent. If there were a giggling gaggle of funky having a party on my upper lip, I probably wouldn't even smell it. Naturally, my answer was "No, honey, I don't smell anything funky."

At least that was the answer I said out loud. What happened in my brain is something entirely different. As soon as she said "Do you smell something funky?" I started thinking about how my car went into the shop today for some annoyingly ridiculous reason, forcing me to work from home. And when I work from home I put my computer on the dining room table and set myself down, just a few short steps from the refrigerator. Lord knows, I don't want to have to walk too far when the dreadful desires of emotional eating begin to rear their ugly head.

So I remembered how at some point this afternoon I became hungry (again) and decided to eat some food which got me pretty thirsty so I decided to open a can of root beer, which tasted so good that I didn't even have time to walk out of the kitchen before I was chugging it straight from the can. All the while I wasn't really paying attention to where I was going because I was enjoying that can of root beer so much, but had I actually paid attention I would've noticed a certain Fraidy cat sitting in front of me wondering if my trip to the kitchen meant he would get some kibbles, and had I actually paid attention I would've been able to avoid walking into said cat and maybe, just maybe, I would've been able to stop myself from jerking forward and sending the remaining root beer in the can sailing through the air and splattering all over the carpet.

The new carpet. The one that Catherine just got installed 2 months ago.

I'm not sure if the words "oh shit" that came out of my mouth actually preceeded or followed the thought in my brain that said "you're in deep deep trouble, bucko." But I suppose it really didn't matter.

I grabbed a paper towel and tried to clean the root beer off the carpet but that didn't seem to do anything more than leave a bunch of shredded paper towel on the carpet. So I looked under the sink because that's where people keep cleaning products, right? Lysol, dishwashing soap, tile cleaner... a-HA! Simple Green! Isn't that the stuff that cleans everything?

I looked at the label, "Simple Green cleans everything" it said. Perfecto! I figured root beer on a carpet can be included under the "everything" label. So I read the instructions some more and saw that I had to put some Simple Green in a basin and dilute it with water. A basin? Where the fuck am I supposed to find a basin? So I did what any normal American male would do, I grabbed a cereal bowl, put some water in it, sprayed a little Simple Green and cleaned up the carpet. Voila, it was done.

Thats about the time that I looked at the bowl - the cereal bowl - and suddenly could smell the amonia. Amonia. In a cereal bowl. I'm no scientist, but I'm guessing that you don't really want amonia in your cereal. Remember that voice in my head that said "you're in deep trouble, bucko"? Well it suddenly got a lot louder.

I emptied the bowl into the sink and started scrubbing with all my might, hoping to dear jesus and all his cousins that I could clean the amonia from the bowl and get rid of the smell before my Cat sends me to the doghouse. You see, we saw this show on the Biography channel last night about how this woman killed her two husbands and claimed it was a mistake. I surely don't want Catherine to be thinking I'm doing her in by trying to poison her Post Toasties with Simple Green.

I must keep scrubbing, I told myself. Finally, after five minutes, my fingers were wrinkly and I figured we were all safe. I put the bowl in the drying rack and proceeded on with my day.

And all was going nice and fine until that point after dinner when I heard her say "Do you smell something funky?"

The car, the root beer, the Simple Green - it all went through my head. I'm not trying to kill you!, I wanted to scream. I wanted to confess - to tell all. I didn't mean to do it! I didn't mean to spill root beer on the carpet! I used Simple Green! I was only trying to help. It was just Simple Green!

...and these are the thoughts that run through your brain when you live with the smell of cats.


Molly said...

Wahahahahaha. That totally sounds like something I would do (trying to clean up the mess and botching it). Lucky for me my husband has no sense of smell.

Mama Simmons said...

Are you sure your girlfriend isn't pregnant? When I got pregnant my sense of smell was amazingly powerful... ;)