Student with taste/aroma synesthesia had to leave dorm because roommate's name had "murky piss smell"

Originally published at: Student with taste/aroma synesthesia had to leave dorm because roommate's name had "murky piss smell" | Boing Boing


Hope that student never runs into Ted Cruz.


That’s an unfortunate condition to have, but isn’t it still kinda rude for the guy to make public videos calling out the specific people that he associates with these smells? Can’t he just explain that certain names give him these sensations without embarrassing and calling out former dorm mates by name? Oh well.


Imagine getting nauseated by simply hearing a word. I think it’s amazing that this guy has survived as for as long as he has.


My freshman year roommate had an actual murky piss smell, so I can somewhat sympathize. Ironically, he was obsessed with setting up water filters in the shared showers and air purifiers in our room, which was knee-deep in his dumpster treasures, leftover cafeteria food, full ash-trays and 6-hose hookah leavings.


Sounds like you hit the roommate anti-lottery.


I predict his scent would be a mix of sandalwood, funky cheese, and parental disappointment.


Never show him the cantina scene from Star Wars IV


IIIIIII…got nothin.



I would guess sewer gas with a hint of Cancun hotel dumpster.


This must be incredibly annoying and make life difficult - for everyone involved. (And it would be hard to not take offense when told your name is like a murky piss smell, even if you fully accepted the explanation - which apparently a lot of people fundamentally don’t, when it comes to non-neurotypical behavior, seeing it somehow as a conscious choice.)

I sometimes think having synesthesia would be cool, but then I read stories about the actual experiences of people with it, and am quickly disabused of that fantasy.

You don’t need synesthesia to get a murky piss smell off him


Was gonna do that, couldn’t bring myself to.

Target Bullseye GIF by Biteable


Nicknames seem like a plausible workaround.


Why though? The room mates don’t smell. The only connection between them and these things to them is an unconscious and unwanted association with a word in one guy’s mind.

How does he feel about the artist formerly known as Prince?


An association that then gets made explicit and spread to countless others through a tictok video.

Generally I think it’s inconsiderate to mention acquaintances by name on any public videos if it’s in an unflattering context that they wouldn’t appreciate. Especially if these acquaintances have done absolutely nothing wrong, and nothing of value is gained by naming these people.

He could have easily said something like “some words such as ‘plankton’ or ‘ceramic’ give me unpleasant taste/smell experiences. Unfortunately certain names give me unpleasant sensations too, even a murky piss smell, which has affected who I’ve been able to form relationships with and even caused me to change housing to avoid hearing those names.”


Perhaps it’s not quite coincidental that those names evoke for him the smells of a typical dorm life experience. I wonder which names evoke the stale pizza crust in the box with moldy ranch dressing, or the instant potpourri nectar scent spray, or the stale carpet smell that does not improve after a healthy vacuum, or the remaining half-inch of day-old red wine. Even if those scents really make him uncomfortable, it still seems like a good out to me.

1 Like

That must be truly be a terrible and extremely socially awkward affliction.

So many questions. What does his own name, Henry Grey, smell/taste like? Is that his original name or did he have to change it to something palatable? Is it just names or it is some or all non-name words? Are there names/words that provide pleasurable sensations? What’s with the popped collar?

1 Like