Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Making Scents of It

A few years back, I stole Rose’s perfume. Not literally, mind you: I just liked the scent, bought my own bottle and started spritzing. Amazingly, Rose wasn’t charmed that we were twinsies, so she immediately stopped using it. Several bottles of “Coco” later, I re-discovered, “Diorissimo”, a gorgeous floral fragrance by Christian Dior. As a teenager, I first smelled it when my fashionable friend Angèle wore it. True to form, I went out and bought some for me (assuming that imitation was the sincerest form of flattery—not that Angèle might be a tad miffed). “Diorissimo” was out of production for years—gone for good I thought, so I moved on to the Estée Lauder fragrances.

Several years after I swiped Rose’s signature scent, Ya-Jhu, having heard me say I missed my old favorite, found that they were making “Diorissimo” again, and bought some for me for my birthday. I immediately fell back in love, and “Coco” was relegated to a bathroom drawer. Not realizing the fickleness of his wife, Steve bought me a new bottle of “Coco” for Christmas, which has never been opened. My issue now: do I make Rose a peace offering of my stash of “Coco?” Or did my habit of wearing it ruin everything for her?

Love this stuff!

 Sharing this kind of thing with my mom was unthinkable—not that Joanie would have minded necessarily, but her olfactory taste was, to my mind, abysmal. Mom gravitated towards giant size bottles of “Jean Naté.” It was pungent, it was assertive, and she practically bathed in it. On special occasions, or when the Jean Naté supply ran low, Mom would take out her treasured bottle of Arpège and put a dab behind her ears (to me, an equally repugnant smell—and ten times as expensive to boot).

My grandmothers wore much simpler stuff: Nana Cunningham
"April Violets": Good enough for this beauty!
used a talcum powder called “April Violets”, and I remember Grandma Berrigan smelling mainly of Jergen’s Lotion. I know perfume has been worn by the upper class for millennia, but I marvel at the prevalence of it in our modern culture. Just ride an elevator with a bunch of women—you will likely be bowled over by many competing aromas in a small space. Men aren’t immune to the charms of strong fragrance either (Dad was an “English Leather” guy).

It starts early, as young as middle school, and doesn’t let up…though tastes become more sophisticated as we age. The drugstore bottles of “Charlie” with which I doused myself (and the “stylish” chalk-white Slicker lipstick I wore as well, which looked like I’d been swigging Maalox), have been replaced with eau de parfum that would have cost me a year of babysitting money.

So, here we are, in a sweet-smelling world, and I guess things aren’t changing anytime soon. Which brings me back to my “Coco” quandary: I refuse to waste it, and would love my daughter to re-embrace it. If she won’t, well…one of my lucky friends is in for a Christmas treat!