Wednesday, April 27, 2011
My Last 5 In-Person, Real Time Perfume Interactions
Here's something else: I rarely smell perfume on other people. It's a sad fact of life I try hard to accept. My friend Jack and I talked recently about how much perfume we give away and how infrequently we smell any of it on its recipients. I don't know why but lately that changed, too--if only just a little. Here are the top 5 most recent encounters.
1. Standing in the perfume section of TJ Maxx.
Which is a pretty desperate state of affairs lately, by the way, unless you are so in love with Hugo Boss that you can never have enough of it. I'm standing there, trying to be excited about the one vaguely interesting thing I managed to find, Si Lolita (I did not end up buying it but holding onto it for a time made me feel a little less despondent), and a woman asks me about it, wondering if I've smelled it and if it's any good (I have and it's okay, if your only other option is Hugo Boss), and I pretended to be buying it for a "girlfriend" because this always makes things easier, and suddenly the woman says, "What's that YOU'RE wearing? That smells GOOOOOD." I was wearing an oil I'd made.
2. Sitting down to Easter dinner in a double wide.
My friend's family invited me over to celebrate the holiday. There were two rather large holes punched in the wall and I tried not to focus on how they might have gotten there, and so close together, as if someone lost his temper a lot but was able to really focus it in one little area quite adeptly. The guy at the end of the table had a mullet. The oldest son wants to be a cheerleader, and I think not the male kind. The younger twins seem embarrassed by this. The guy with the mullet was probably in his seventies and belched loudly and prodigiously. There was something mocking about his mullet. It dared you not to be offended in some way by it. We were in a military town, and before the meal we'd been to the commissary, where I'd put on a little Youth Dew bath oil. A little spot of relief on my wrist. The woman across from me at the table--married, better or worse, to mullet-- suddenly perked up and said, "who smells so good?"
I felt my face turning red but figured oh to hell with it. Me, I said.
That must be Obsession, she said. I really like Obsession.
3. Sitting on a park bench next to an Indian burial mound.
I was talking to a friend. A very attractive, newly acquired friend. Very stylish. Very well put together. One of those guys who seems to have stepped out of another time--slightly vintage looking. They don't make faces like his much. You see them in old tintypes. He had on a boat neck striped shirt. Thick blonde-ish brown hair. There was a little breeze in the air, and I could smell his day on him, and underneath that, just faintly, the gorgeous, silky smell of Chanel Egoiste, totally personalized by a full 24 hours of wear. He'd put it on that morning, he said. It mingled with his cigarette smoke. I had a little trouble focusing on what he was saying. This is what perfume ads try to capture, I thought.
4. Warehouse office downtown.
A girl I know who has received much perfume from me, and never seems to be wearing it, smelled wonderful one day. As we talked the smell came in and out, yanking me into different moods and thought patterns. She told me she'd layered Jo Malone Grapefruit Cologne with Bond No.9's Scent of Peace. The Malone she doesn't tend to think much of by itself, and frankly Scent of Peace is war on my nerves on its own, but the combination was just enough of a curve ball to call a truce, and super lovely.
5. Standing at the oil counter mixing something.
A guy came in looking for something for erectile issues. I didn't know the store carried such a thing. They went right to it. He was looking at jewelry, too. I thought, oh, some lady is really in for no end of trouble, and all she gets for the incessant "attentions" will be a little pair of silver earrings she's probably instantly plotting to return.
Another guy came in. Some kind of itching disorder. His wife believes things are coming out of her pores. The ladies at the counter went right to the herbs again. If you think the fragrance counter is full of intrigue you should step up to the oil section of your local hippie apothecary.
I was very fascinated by all this but kept focused on my oils, until some other guy came in looking for who knows what, and started sniffing the air. What's that smell? he asked, obsessed. It made me so happy. I had all my little bottles open on the counter next to him: rose, patchouli, clove, cinnamon, ylang, Nag Champa, Jasmine, sandalwood. Turns out he was smelling the rose geranium, which I'm pretty fond of, too.