Finding a silver lining to viral infection

For the Monitor
Published: 3/3/2021 9:18:08 AM

I have a confession to make: I haven’t smelled poop in seven weeks.

I mean, not a hint, a whiff, the slightest tang of that rank odor. Not mine, yours, the dog, the trucker in the stall next to me or anyone else’s has gotten past these nostrils since the beginning of January. About the time I caught COVID.

How I felt when I contracted the virus is coming. But for right now, I’m so focused on this whole poop thing, I could just swim in it.

Losing my sense of smell has been delightful. Yes, it has. I’ve come to grips with it. And there was little internal wrestling involved. I bowed immediately, pledging my devotion to the consequences, if one chooses to call it that. In fact, I’d be okay if I never smell anything or anyone ever again.

Sure, some scents are nice – parts of the flesh, drops of gasoline, beach rocks and grandmother hugs. But I’ve smelt enough cheese in my life, bathed in bowls of bodacious oils and cut hundreds upon hundreds of lawns at dawn, when the dew is still new and dripping. I’ve been blessed with smelling, spoiled almost. Carry a sucker on your face like the one I have for 50 years, can’t help but breathe in much of the world.

Yet, I live as a glutton. I can eat full pallets of cured meats and fried legs of any species. You see where I’m going with this? Same place them legs and slices of prosciutto are going. Downtown.

I won’t spell it out for you, but I loathe the act of “riding the throne.” I find it to be an abominable aspect of the human mold, a complete waste of time, literally. One of God’s few holy follies.

But as they say, when you got to go ... yuck!

So, since I got COVID some seven weeks back, my sniffing cells are still in the dumper. When I first lost the ability to smell, I also lost my sense of taste. Did not like that. I like the taste of pretty much anything. My past life, I’m guessing, I was some jungle sow with spiked teeth and lips that dragged on bramble, living off his constant hunger.

When my sister graciously dropped off a lasagna to our home, where three out of four members of the household had COVID, I sullenly made my way over to the kitchen counter from the den, some 10 feet away, achy, almost sweating and nursing a near 100-degree temperature. I reached my hand into the red sauce and cheese soaked tray and scooped out three fingers worth of lasagna. Nothing. Tasted like putty, looked like glory, smelled like defeat. Then I spit it into the sink.

So, as the days wore on and my symptoms of COVID stayed steady – suffering somewhere between a cold and the touch of the flu – my palate returned, first with toothpaste, then fruits, and then numerous sweets and salts. Ah, it felt good to be back. My buds were alive!

First thing I did was go looking for that lasagna. Been a few days but they hold up well. Tucked in the back of the fridge still sat a half pan of evenly cut pieces. I wrestled the platter out of the fridge and huddled my face over three plates of deliciousness, barely coming up for air.

The thing about the virus is she has no quit in her. Hangs on like a bad rash. Then the guilt sets in. You feel lazy weeks after quarantining for 10 days, which was spent napping and moping. You feel at 3 p.m. like you usually do at 9 p.m. Ready to cozy down and gather the pets. But then you look outside and the sun is still hanging around at five but I just feel so beat up. Tired or feeling tired.

Then, I concluded, it’s mid- February, the least forgiving month of the year, the one that dominates me and lays my mind in the gutter, spread out with the rest of my sins.

So, there’s that about COVID. The double whammy – guilt and lethargy.

Yet, far beyond beating yourself up for things you can’t control, there is beauty. Maybe not everyone’s sense of beauty, but it’s mine ... for now.

And this moment won’t last forever. But, I am going to linger lovingly in this space in time and be happy not smelling anything. I don’t miss you.

For now, with nostrils filled with odorless air, I count the hours until spring arrives, the real spring, when life pops and feelings grow and smells arrive in bundles – roots and grass, flowers and birds, the bedrock of our existence. And I wait, raising my nose to the treetops as the slate colored skies burn gray into my membrane, I’ll here swimming in my new found passion. Smelling nothing. Nothing at all. A “Poop Free Zone.”

And oh, what a relief it is.

Rob Azevedo has a new collection of poetry out called “Turning on the Wasp,” available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Gibson’s Books. He can be reached at

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