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Writing Prompt: Which Sense Would You Give Up?

I asked my Writing 2 students to respond to the following prompt (which was related to a reading we did from Models for Writers), and I thought it would be fun to do the same.


Question: If you had to give up one of your five senses (hearing, sight, smell, taste, touch), which would you choose and why?

Too many Oreos? I think not!

Too many Oreos? I think not!

If I was forced to sacrifice one sense in order to keep the other four, it would be an easy choice: I would give up my sense of taste. Food is one of my weakness. I eat when I’m starving, hungry, or satiated. I eat when I’m happy, but I also I eat when I am stressed and when I am depressed. I like to snack when I am grading or studying because it gives my hands and mouth something to do and I seem to need that in order to focus. I snack when I am on long car rides. I like to get popcorn at the movie theater. I like to eat when I’m watching a cooking show (like Hell’s Kitchen or Top Chef), and I like to eat when I’m watching any show.

And I don’t stick to carrot sticks and healthy food. My favorite munchy is Cheez-its, but I like barbecue chips, Skittles, Reese’s Pieces, dips, cookies, and cereal for snacks. I love a good steak or salad drenched in ranch, bleu cheese, or Caesar dressing.

A large part of this problem is the tactile/oral stimulation (I’m sure Freud would say something about my development as a baby/toddler). I don’t always eat for the enjoyment of the food. I don’t only eat because my belly is telling me that I need nourishment. I eat for emotional reasons. I eat because I am tempted by the delicious saltiness, extreme cheesiness, rich meatiness. I take “one more bite” because the last Cheez-it didn’t taste perfect and I want the right taste to linger in my mouth even when I’m done.

If I didn’t have my sense of taste, I would be able to stop when I said “last one.” It would be super easy to choose dressing-less salad over fried buffalo wings. I wouldn’t need to dip my chips or snack on sugar-loaded candy. I would pick veggies as a snack food because the sensation of eating carrots or celery would be closer to that of eating a cruncy cracker or chip and the flavor wouldn’t matter so much. I’m not saying I would make this choice so I could be skinny, but rather because it would make it so much easier to make healthful food choices.

Don’t get me wrong: it would be sad to never taste Mom’s mexican casserole or potato casserole, Grandma Oakes’s turkey stuffing, or Grandma and Grandpa Hargett’s famous chili. I would hate to miss out on all the new flavors our friends, the Baileys have introduced us to over the past 18 months.

But I would rather forgo those pleasures for being able to drive myself around, see and take pictures,  get joy from seeing smiles and the happiness in a friend’s eyes.

I would rather not taste another Cheez-it than not be able to have the visceral responses to Aspen cologne (which will always remind me of Dad) or Rob’s scent.

I would gladly give up taste for the sound of laughter, familiar voices, and wide range of innuendos that voice betrays.

Who needs taste when I can enjoy the softness of my husband’s embrace, the refresing sensation of walking on cool for the first time after a long winter, the way raindrops feel when the land on your skin?


What sense would you give up? Why?

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