Damn You Corona, You Stole Lavender from Me!
Shortly before COVID-19 hit, SpanishRed recommended that I watch an absolutely horrific romantic movie called Perfect Sense. It was artistic, terrifying, and eerily prophetic of some of what we would soon experience.
This movie followed an epidemiologist and her lover, a masterful cook, through a series of plagues that robbed all humans on Earth of each of their senses, one at a time. First, all humans lost their sense of smell. Then taste. Then hearing. Then sight. We’re left to imagine that only touch remains in the last moment of a love story. Each loss came with a powerful emotion, followed by acceptance and moving on, appreciating what remained all the more.
Having just watched this movie, we encountered a mysterious plague for the first time that seemed to rob people of both taste and smell. The loss was more complex than in the movie though. One relative told the story of coffee ever after tasting like rotten fish and smelling like death. A loss so seemingly small and specific seemed devastating to me, as someone who loves coffee shops and reading while enjoying their delicious scent.
In response, I was that person who went to grocery stores early in the Pandemic wearing a mask and plastic gloves, scared both of catching this mysterious illness and of spreading it to others. As I learned more, I tried to adapt, but still felt a paranoia that kept me wearing a mask long after most of my coworkers stopped.
I always had a little bit of a talent for guessing the ingredients of foods. My wife would encourage me to go to restaurants to try out their favorite dishes and guess how to cook my own version of them. Before our respective gender transitions began, at our favorite sushi restaurant, our friend who was the owner’s son knew this and would bring out free samples of experimental dishes and ask me to guess what was in them for fun. He would try to trip me up with unusual combinations of spices and other ingredients.
Last night, I tried to play that game with someone we met at a gathering who had cooked some delightful foods. I was surprised and a bit embarrassed that I couldn’t place any of the spices at all, even…