When we think of the senses, our minds automatically go to sight. That’s what most of us depend on to navigate our worlds. Hearing usually comes next on our list, but we should never underestimate the power of the nose.
Last week, when I told David, my hairdresser, that so far I’d bought tickets for my husband and me to a handful of the 400 films showing in the Seattle International Film Festival, he asked if I was going to buy popcorn. I said no, I was trying to lose weight and the salt in one bag of popcorn, which must be enough to meet yearly sodium requirements for adults, made me double in size. I added that going without popcorn didn’t make me happy, because I’m a movie popcorn addict.
Even if by using enormous willpower I manage to pass by the theater concession stand on my way to watching a romantic comedy, when it comes to thrillers, popcorn calls.
David agreed. “It’s a mindscrew. It starts as soon as you enter the place. You can smell it everywhere. I drank a bottle of water the last time I saw a movie and it wasn’t the same.”
Despite the drawbacks of a good sense of smell, I’d hate to lose mine. Apparently a third of the population over eighty years old loses its sense of smell. Once it’s gone, you can’t recover it. And even though smell and taste are different, people who can’t smell also say they can’t taste. And that would ruin eating everything but oatmeal.
You don’t have to have a refined nose to detect movie popcorn. (We have Swiss friends who won’t go to a theater because of the smell of popcorn. There’s a twist.) I’m thankful my nose is still operating at full capacity when encountering less overpowering scents. There are, however, exceptions to my sense of nasal gratitude. My nose can detect mildew at first sniff, a talent that made cleaning out my deceased father-in-law’s house painful in more ways than one. And I try to stay away from women and men whose noses haven’t notified them that their perfume or aftershave is strong enough to pollute the air. But take me past a bakery and I’m in heaven.
So far we’ve seen two SIFF films and I have remained popcorn-free. However, we’ve got a thriller coming up soon. I’m making no promises.
PS. Interesting nose news from today’s “Seattle Times”: Human noses (50 million olfactory cells) are feeble compared to dog noses (220 million olfactory cells), which serve many more useful functions than sniffing out movie popcorn, such as detecting cancer.