Are All Five Of Your Senses Still Functioning Properly? A Few Are Letting Me Down

Confession: Whenever I need to quickly remember the five senses, I mentally tap into the XTC song above, and always recite them the way they do: see, hear, smell, touch, taste. Admittedly, it doesn’t happen very often: no more then three or four times per week. But whenever it does happen… XTC is my guide. They Might Be Giants provide some guidance with semi-obscure trivia, as well. Also, old episodes of Blue’s Clues from a million years ago. But I don’t want to get off-track here.

Today I’d like to give you guys a State of the Senses report, and ask you to do the same, in the comments. Some of mine are operating a little better than others, unfortunately. Let’s get started.


My eyes are a mess. One is standard-issue near-sighted, and the other is jacked-up royally. The cornea is supposed to be smooth and rounded, but mine has been described as pointed, “like the end of football.” Another doctor said it’s “wavy,” not smooth. In any case, it’s not good. The only things that will kinda-sorta correct my vision are hard contact lenses. They press down on the cornea, and mash it back into shape. I’ve been wearing them for decades, and they do a pretty good job. But I now read exclusively on a Kindle, because I can increase the font size. Paperbacks are out of the question at this point; I can’t see the freaking words on the page. In the not-too-distant future I’ll probably need a seeing-eye squirrel, or something similar. It ain’t good.


This one is controversial. My family says I can’t hear anymore, but I say they’re all mumbling. “Speak! Enunciate!!” I’m always shouting. “We don’t have any kerosene for the demumblifier!” Yes, they love that one… Sure, my eardrums have been traumatized by Cheap Trick and Dinosaur Jr. through the years, but I believe they’re functioning as normal. People just need to quit talking down their shirt collars. Sheesh.


My mother claims to not be able to smell, which is weird, if you ask me. But it would certainly come in handy, every once in a while. Like when you walk into a bathroom at work, and somebody’s in there blasting ass and unleashing the kind of stench disallowed by the Geneva Convention. But, on the other hand… I LOVE the smell of fireplaces in the fall, and that sort of thing. As far as I can tell, my sense of smell is exactly the same as it’s always been. I see no degradation, on account of me now being an old fuck.


This one gets overlooked, I think. It doesn’t really seem like it’s in the same category, does it? But, according to Andy Partridge and the boys of XTC, it is indeed a full-fledged sense. I know that people who are paralyzed, and that sort of thing, lose the sense of touch. But it doesn’t really seem to happen because of age. Am I wrong? In any case, everything’s status quo for me in this category. I’m not one of those guys who can get drunk at a party, and jam a pencil in the back of my hand, for entertainment purposes. Oh well.


My mother also claims to not be able to taste anything. I guess smell and taste go hand-in-hand, right? Once again, I’m firing on all cylinders with this sense. In fact, one of our favorite driving rituals is to buy a giant five-gallon (or whatever) bucket of “gourmet” jelly beans from Sam’s Club. There are all sorts of bizarre, and sometimes NASTY, flavors included in those things. And it’s fun to just randomly pop them in our mouths, and react accordingly. Whenever you bite into what tastes like a smelling-salts capsule, you howl in protest, and it’s good fun. Unfortunately, I’ve caught Toney cherry-picking on occasion. Well, to be more precise… cinnamon-picking. She cinnamon picks the beans! That ruins everything; it throws off the natural calibration and distribution, and also sidesteps the hilarity of the surprise ammonia capsule. Ya know? Anyway, I’m good with taste. No issues, whatsoever.

But what about you? Are you having problems with any of the five senses? Please tell us about it in the comments section.

And I’ll see you guys again soon.

Have a great day!

Are you using Dropbox? Why not?! It’s both awesome and free.


  1. The Qweezy Mark says

    I’ve got no sense at all!

  2. Before the older kid went off to college, I was convinced I was going deaf because she and her sister would somehow communicate in whispers and mumbles, yet seemed to completely understand each other. With the older one gone I was able to confirm they were having one of those weird sibling communication things and now I just plead for the remaining kid to please speak up. I still find myself leaning in ear-first like those old men in cartoons.

  3. My husband and I have both performed in rock bands for decades, so our hearing is shot. I’m sure we turn our TV up to retirement home levels because whenever we watch TV at someone else’s house we find ourselves asking them if they would mind turning it up. Maybe a little more? Just a little more?

    Then there’s my eyesight. I’ve always been severely nearsighted, but after 40 the need for reading glasses started to kick in. I can’t puzzle out a menu in a dimly-lit restaurant to save my life. Staring at a glowing screen 10+ hours a day surely doesn’t help.

    Everything else seems fine. So far.

  4. Westersteve says

    Had lasik surgery on both eyes when I turned 40 (14yr ago) and it was ,and still is fantastic. My astigmatism as bad and I also was a hard contact person but now I’m still without even reading glasses.
    My hearing is getting worse but still within normal.

  5. I’m seriously near-sighted, and have to wear hard contacts, too. I’ve worn them since I was 15, and I can’t really see very well with just glasses. I’ve been told that if I ever need cataract surgery, they can fix all that. That would be cool.

    Something that’s been giving me difficulty lately is TV shows and movies that show a phone text. I don’t have a giant living room, so I don’t have a giant TV, but it’s decent. They show a phone text, and I know I”m missing something, so I have to pause it and walk over to the TV to see what the text said. I really hate that. Maybe I should get a pair of binoculars to put by my chair.

    As for my hearing, I really love it when a movie has closed captions. If the actors have any kind of accent, I can’t understand them.

    Wow. Now I feel old as shit. Thanks.

  6. The Qweezy Mark says

    Taste. I need a Jalapeno Double right now!

  7. I think all my senses are good besides vision. I will be 30 next month and I just got glasses. My distance vision isn’t good and I also have the same as you Jeff, the football shaped eyes. I think it’s called astigmatism (spelling?) I don’t like my vision failing me already. It kinda creeps me out.

  8. My vision has been jacked up since third grade. I can’t/won’t wear contacts because I freak out trying to put them in my eyeballs. Lasik is out because I’m convinced there will be a power surge the moment they press the button and I’ll be blinded.

    I’d like to say my hearing is good but I’m afraid it’s only ok. Normal conversation with people or watching most TV is fine but add some background noise… forget about it, I can’t hear shit. The movie that come to mind are the Lord of the Ring movies. A lot of the movie has so much background music I couldn’t make out the actors voices. Thank God for close captioning.

    And I heard a week or so ago when your sense of smell, or was it taste, go, you’re within a five years window of your expiration date. Nice.

  9. I have the trifecta of misery. Eyes, ears and taste. I’m thinking of lasik but can’t bite the bullet yet. And the ears are a constant chant of what what what??? But the taste is a matter of being so salt sensitive I need to down 5 gallons of water after eating a slice of pizza.

    • Sorry, I didn’t finish. The last time I had my teeth cleaned, they sand blasted my choppers with a mixture if baking soda and peroxide which took about a pound of m&ma to get the taste out of my system.

  10. squawvalleyskip says

    I’ve been wearing glasses since the 4th grade. One time at some kind of health care thing I asked a doc about the lasik thing. At the time I worked in heavy civil construction. He advised against it, saying that having worn glasses all my life and being used to having something in front of my eyes I’d find myself constantly getting something stuck in an eyeball. I also refuse contacts, because no way I’m sticking my finger in my eye every damn day. My hearing, that’s going to hell. I constantly hear a high pitched whistling noise, due to my advanced tinnitus. At work if I’m around running machinery I can’t understand anything on my two-way radio, and answering those service calls is what I’m supposed to be doing. My wife claims my taste buds are shot, but only because I like spicy food and she is of the opinion that 4 or 5 flakes of ground black pepper is spicy enough for anyone. More than that and she claims it’s too hot to eat. I guess the touch thing is OK. But all those years of working out in the sun have got my skin to the point that it doesn’t take much to get me cut or torn open and bleeding. Combine that with what my wife calls my freakishly high pain tolerance, and I tend to not notice that I’m bleeding all over the place until I see the mess or notice things getting sticky. I actually have one coworker who is so used to me bleeding on what we’re trying to fix that working in red smears doesn’t faze him at all any more.

  11. I’m near sighted, but the near portion is starting to fail me as well. I now either end up perching my glasses at the end of my nose, or propped up on my forehead for up close stuff and need to move things near/far to get things in focus.

    Hearing is also suffering, years of using a hammer drill, driving with unmuffled exhaust systems, and metal have taken their toll.

    The sniffer is also fucked up, odors need to be strong for me to detect and indentify them. Taste seems to be okay however, probably muted though since smell and taste apparently go hand in hand.

    Touch still seems to function as designed.

  12. My eyes are really bad, but it’s not from age. I’ve been wearing glasses for 50 years now, and I’m still young enough not to have gray hair. My hearing was subjected to a few years of aircraft noise and 2″ quad VTR noise, all unprotected. And I’m told I don’t smell so good.

  13. JR in Sammamish says

    I also have no sense of smell and therefore no sense of taste.

  14. johnthebasket says

    After 35 years working in Corporate America, I have lost much of my sense of wonder. Wonder is more a TMBG concept than an XTC concept, which might be why it didn’t make the short list.


    XTC versus Adam Ant
    Content versus form
    Fighting for their place in rock and roll
    There is no right or wrong

    Just when you think it’s finished
    With XTC on top
    Ant music, like a phoenix
    Flies back up the charts

    XTC versus Adam Ant
    Only one will survive
    Beatle-based pop versus new romantic
    History will decide

    XTC versus Adam Ant
    I can’t tell you why
    Even the singer from Bow Wow Wow
    Can’t make up her mind

    XTC versus Adam Ant
    Time is marching on
    XTC versus Adam Ant

    There is no right or wrong
    There is no right or wrong
    There is no right or wrong

    • johnthebasket says

      By the way . . . today (Halloween) is Annabella Lwin’s birthday. She turns 48. It’s not to late to send a card or feast her in your own way.


  15. Ron from PA says

    I think the feelling of needing to take a dump should be the 6th sense. Casue lately, it feels like it comes outta no where with only seconds to spare to get the john.. TMI? Old age I guess

  16. See- I’m lucky to be able to do it…near-sighted as hell for years, hard contacts since 14 (almost 40 years), caught a car antenna in left eye at 16, left cataract removed at 20, laser surgery at 22. Cataract right eye at 48 with lens implant. Now I wear one contact lens AND glasses.
    Hear- WHAT? Look at me when you speak, please.
    Smell- Daily shower takes care of that
    Touch- No, thank you
    Taste- Well, I like this site, so… not so much

  17. I haven’t been able to hear well for 25 years. Too much yelling at football games in the 50’s, I think. Hearing aids have not helped much, so yes, I am the one who is always saying “Enunciate!”

  18. Chuck in Belpre says

    I have Sammy Davis eyes. (Is that a song? I think it might be). I actually see 2 of everything. Maybe that’s why I tend to overeat at buffets. Ears ring some. I tingle all over and my hands and feet are numb. The fuck is that? Taste? 45 years of Winstons have seen to that. Smell? Yeh, I probably smell like Sir Walter Raleighs’ rumpus room. Sometimes when I lay down my lower back makes a sound like a brick dropped on grass. Fuck, it looks worse when I write it all out. I need a nap.

    • johnthebasket says

      Yeah, 45 for me as well. I honestly don’t know whether I smell worse now or when I was drinking. Back then, I didn’t have that old man’s smell, and there’s something American about sweating bourbon at 0700. That distiller’s fragrance in the morning smells a little like victory.


      • Victory is a brewery in Downingtown, Pa. I’ve never been there, but I expect it would smell vaguely malty, with perhaps a hint of Saaz hops. They make a very fine Pilsner, as well as a Tripel that is a dead ringer for Kasteel.

        Ward Cleaver poured bourbon on his cornflakes for breakfast.

  19. Taste and smell are all just fine. Hearing in my right ear is not so good so I tend to look over my right shoulder when someone is talking to me so my left ear is facing them; makes for awkward conversations at times. Part of the problem is hereditary; the remainder is from listening to music at the highest volume when I was younger. Sense of touch is pretty good except for some residual nerve damage in my left hand from carpel tunnel syndrome (I waited too long before having surgery).

    My eyes are a mess! Had 20/20 vision until I hit 40. Then I slowly became far-sighted and started wearing glasses. I got sick of seeing everything in a “frame” so I moved on to contacts and loved them. Then the near-sighted gremlin hit and I just bought some of those cheap reading glasses at Walgreens that I could use to read (wearing them over my contacts). Through all of this, my vision was identical in both eyes so it was so easy to get those cheap peepers. Then everything started going to hell in a hand basket. By this time, I had moved to progressive lenses. Developed an astigmatism in my left eye so getting my glasses got a bit tricky. Now I have developed a cataract in my left eye, which I am told isn’t bad enough for surgery just yet and now my vision is wonky for sure. My last Rx for glasses was so f ‘ed up, my lenses had to be changed a couple of times and I still can’t see worth a shit. Distance vision is pathetic and I can’t read street signs, which is a pain in the ass. I’m just stumbling my way around until time for cataract surgery, in hopes that will clear up some of the problem. I’m pretty damn sick and tired of everything being somewhat blurred all the time.

    Getting old is not for sissies.