Tasteless (#352)

Karma comes in many forms.

You might, for example, write a gloating glowing, envy-inducing post about what an amazing chef your husband is, complete with mouth-water photos of eggs Benedict and beef Wellington.

Only to find yourself unable to taste ANY food a few weeks later. Because after 3 years of dodging, COVID finally got you.

And you can’t even figure out how the motherfucker did it.

I wear a mask indoors EVERYWHERE and I hardly go anywhere. Just the store, and monthly soccer/ PTA meetings (with my KN95). Andy and I don’t do movies, concerts, or big sporting events. We only go to outdoor soccer games for Baby D and we don’t sit close to other parents. The only place we go out to eat is sushi once a month—right when they open, when no one else in there, the staff is masked, we only unmask to eat, etc. Our whole family is vaccinated, boosted, and bivalent boosted. We had a very small dinner with one (vaccinated, boosted) family at Christmas and another at New Year’s (with windows open and plenty of ventilation).

If I meet another mom for lunch, we eat outside. If I visit a friend who has a new kitten in her house, I wear a mask. Hair stylist? Mask.  Pedicure three times a year? Mask.

If COVID had nailed my husband, that wouldn’t be too surprising. He wears a mask everywhere indoors, just like I do, but spends over 40 hours a week in a windowless building with shit ventilation and no small number of coworkers without masks. He has an office with a door he keeps closed whenever he can, and a portable fan, but he has tons of meetings with people who don’t always mask and come in from all over the country.

If COVID had nailed Baby D, that would have been even less of a shock. I know that kid takes his mask off at school, where he also plays tuba, soccer, and runs around with hundreds of other disease vectors daily. The kid had a cold at Christmas and got another one about 15 days ago. We test him repeatedly for COVID.

Yet I’m the one COVID got. The post nasal drip started a week ago, and Wednesday I woke with snot and coughing. I thought it was just Baby D’s cold, since I had the same symptoms. I didn’t have even a low-grade fever—usually the big difference between a cold and COVID or flu. The kid had already given his cold to Andy a few days earlier, so I wasn’t surprised I was sick. All the COVID tests, including the one I gave Baby D the day I started sniffling, were negative. I took my Sudafed, wore my KN95, and went on with trips to stores and one meeting.

Friday I was eating a sandwich and thought, “I need more mustard.” I put on more Dijon mustard and finished lunch. Afterwards, I had a piece of a new craft chocolate candy bar Andy had gotten me and thought, “This is sweet, but not chocolately at ALL.”

The penny dropped.  I realized that our dog, who had been skunked a month ago, hadn’t reeked skunk when he breathed on me earlier. I ran to the dog’s favorite pillow (which had also begun to reek of skunk) and buried my face in it.

I smelled NOTHING.

Not even regular dog breath.

I broke out the COVID test. The “positive” line was bright red before the moisture even reached the “control” line on the test strip.

COVID snuck in under cover of Baby D and Andy’s cold. But how? 3 days prior to symptoms, the only thing I did was walk the dog three miles (early in the morning, we only saw maybe 2 people in the distance) and work in the garden. No one I saw within the previous week had COVID (or admitted having it). Could Andy or Baby D have COVID after all?

It took some maneuvering since I couldn’t actually go into the school, but I got the school to release Baby D so I could test him for COVID.


Andy went to a testing site near work.


Clearly, I was a Taylor Swift song:

I went into isolation in the bedroom. If I had to come out for the bathroom or wanted to hang outside on the patio, I wore a mask. Andy and Baby D would wear masks to crack open my door and shove in food:

My bean and cheese burrito from Chipotle. I could taste the warmth of spiciness, but that was all.

I was lucky to get that burrito. After I whined (on the phone) to Andy about how I couldn’t taste a damned thing, my husband decided not to waste his time or his culinary talents on his wife.

This was my lunch on Saturday:

A bowl of steamed broccoli next to plain spaghetti noodles

Andy texted later to ask if I wanted dinner.

I texted back, “No thank you.”

Andy tested positive on Sunday morning. Andy has asthma. Andy had his prescription of Paxlovid within the hour.

Andy can still taste food.

Baby D, who enjoys being confined in his room, doing no chores, having meals delivered, and playing all the computer games he wants, is still, amazingly, COVID-free. The triumphant little brat even waved his latest negative test in my masked face this morning and caroled, “Read it and weep, Mother!”


I can’t smell at all. I can only tell whether the food in my mouth is sweet, salty, or bitter. An orange tastes sweet, but has no orange flavor. Coffee is bitter, but it doesn’t taste like coffee.

Eating now is an exercise in disappointment. I only do it to refuel. After a breakfast of oatmeal and an orange, I might have a bagel and apple for lunch and then I’m done for the day.

Luckily for my still-tasting spouse and child, I’m a big planner. I’d gotten their favorite See’s Candies for Valentine’s Day weeks ago. Andy finished his peanut crunches before midday.

I got a lovely haul of chocolates as well. Am I eating them? Hahahaha why bother.

Most COVID-related anosmia clears up within 1-6 months. But I have one friend who got COVID in 2020 and has never recovered her sense of smell. She shrugged it off, saying, “Well, at least I don’t gag when I have to pick up dog poop anymore.”

What are the odds I open those boxes of candy by March?

Not great.

A table with heart-shaped boxes of chocolates and other candies

Published by

Autumn Ashbough

WF writing about the humorous perils of life with Chinese-American significant other.

25 thoughts on “Tasteless (#352)”

  1. After all the delicious things you and Andy bake and cook, it’s not fair that you should lose your sense of smell. I hope the loss won’t last too long.

    During the first three years of the pandemic, I knew only one person who caught COVID, and that was before the vaccine. In the past couple of months, three of my friends have caught it, 4 including you. And you’re all careful and have been vaccinated. Correction. One of them went on a cruise. Maybe we need a new up-to-date vaccine.

    1. Well, the good news is that while none of the vaccines can keep everyone from getting COVID, they are keeping most people out of the hospital. Andy and I never even ran fevers. The new variants are incredibly contagious. It would be nice if the government still took COVID seriously and issued reminders for vaccinations every few months. It would be even better if more people still masked. At my last two meetings with 10 people or more, only 3 of us wore masks. Sometimes I’m the only one in the store wearing one.

  2. Man, that sucks. I feel bad for you, especially given all the precautions you take. Just goes to show that all the masking up in the world only goes so far. Wishing you chocolatey tasting chocolate well before March!

    1. Well, masking only goes so far when ONE party does it. I’m generally one of 3 masking in meetings of 10 or more. The good news is that with my K95, I didn’t give the virus to anyone but the person I sleep next to. (Some folks in my last meeting totally deserved to get COVID, though. It’s a good thing I can’t go back in time and remove my mask.) It’s probably someone who had COVID and didn’t know it and didn’t mask that gave it to me. I suspect that chocolate will last till at least May, but we can hope.

  3. I’m so sorry it caught you and hope your sense of taste returns soon! It’s gotten crazy enough lately I’m back to wiping down the handles of the grocery cart before I use it. Though I’lol probably keep doing that because I’m not sure how often they get cleaned during flu season.

  4. That sucks! I was so lucky not to lose my sense of taste when I had covid. Thorsten lost it (briefly) with Delta but not with Omicron. I wish your taste buds (and the rest of your health) a speedy return.

  5. I’m sorry you finally got it! I honestly think no matter what you do, everybody will get it at some point. It probably was Baby D but he didn’t even gave a positive on his test. I also lost my smell completely in November and it must have been COVID, but I took some antigen tests and didn’t get a positive. Oh well. My smell is now back, although I do think not 100% (I was VERY sensitive to smells before). Hope you recover yours soon and can enjoy those chocolates!

    1. I am–or was–super sensitive to smells. Which once kept our garage from burning up with our trash can at 2 AM. It’s amazing how much you use your nose for without even thinking: “do I need more deodorant?” “does that smell mean the dog stepped in his own poop?” “oh, no, something is burning in the kitchen!”

  6. Oh no! I hope your sense of taste and smell returns soon. Our youngest son had COVID in April 2020 – when tests were nowhere to be found. He was horribly sick and ran a temp of 103 for days. However, we didn’t know for sure that it was COVID until he lost his ability to taste and smell; it returned within a few weeks. I hope you are enjoying real food again soon. (The noodles were just sad.)

    1. Here’s hoping I have my sense of taste and smell back soon, just like your son. Because, yeah, those noodles were SO sad. But at least I was spared a fever, thanks to all the boosters!

        1. I’ll get there eventually! Yes, all the boosters I took made me feel irritable and exhausted, and the ones I took without ibuprofen gave me a fever, a head-ache, and a lemon-sized lump under my left arm. But actual COVID didn’t give me a fever, just the irritability and massive congestion in my sinuses. I’m still super congested.

  7. That is some bad behaving karma 🙁 Himself & I are the only members of my family yet to fall. When we came down with the flu at the start of the year, I thought that might be it, especially as we got it right after a visit to the germbugs (my daughter’s family who live in London and have had it 5 times). It also affected my daughter’s sense of taste & smell, which she did get back fine, except that cucumber tastes odd. Weird I know, especially as it doesn’t taste powerfully, but it was something she loved – and now doesn’t. Every kid in my family can be made happy by gnawing on great lumps of cucumber (I still can) so I really feel for her. And for you. May the chocolate hang on in there while you get your senses back, and may chocolate not be your cucumber.

  8. First I’m sorry you got the virus, but I applaud your sense of humor about your bland meals. If he’d only added a pile of overcooked lentils boiled with no spices, your meal would be award winning bland. As it is, it’s a runner up. Get healthy [and your taster back] soon, okay?

    1. I know, I thought it was kind of done as a symptom, too. But here, if you are vaccinated and boosted, it’s the fever that apparently doesn’t show up anymore. Yes, crispy and spicy seem to be foods that can best fool you into thinking you can taste!

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