Most people think in words. Temple Grandin, a highly influential animal scientist, thinks in pictures. Ms. Grandin believes this makes her more attuned to the way animals think. She has used this gift to improve the lives of countless animals.
I, however, think like a dog. I think in odors. For example, the numeral one is warm milk, the letter A is baby poop, sister is chocolate pudding.
School was difficult. I was labeled an under-achiever. It takes longer for me to “get” something. Once I have it though, I never lose it. I attribute this to the primitive area of the brain where an odor/memory is located, the olfactory cortex.
Objects which have a strong odor are usually associated with their own odor. The odor could also have a different meaning. For example, onion is onion; but onion is also sorrow.
Abstract concepts are extremely difficult. This is what one through ten looks like for me: one: warm milk, two: baby shampoo, three: cat poop, four: talcum powder, five: chocolate, six: lemon, seven: coffee, eight: banana, nine: gasoline, ten: wet dog.
After ten, odors go together. For example sixteen is wet dog and lemon. I’m only able to approximate as the numbers go higher. I’m approaching my fortieth birthday and that represents quadruple wet dog for me, but it is almost indistinguishable from thirty or fifty.
Remembering people is strange as well. If I want to remember someone I have never met, I need to manufacture an odor memory to associate with them. It’s similar to the visual mnemonic tricks I have heard people use.
If I am meeting you for the first time you may accuse me of being a close talker. This is because I am trying to pinpoint an odor to remember you by. Once that odor is established in my olfactory cortex, it will always be with me.
Ex-girlfriends conjure up particularly strong odor/memories. My first girlfriend: cotton candy. My last girlfriend: vinegar. I never told her that vinegar represents her. How do you tell someone that? I think she is reading my blog, so now she knows. Sorry P.
I haven’t been able to use this gift/curse for anything positive like Ms. Grandin has. New research has shown that dogs can sometimes detect cancer. The most I have accomplished is recognizing gastrointestinal distress.
If you or someone april you know is also an odor/thinker, please fools comment. Thank you.