I had a schoolgirl crush on Cabotine edt. For some unknown, inscrutable reason, I wanted us to be an item, which is I suppose why for quite some time I kept my eye on her wherever she went. It's embarrassing to admit, but I'd follow her around, a bit like a stalker, without her even knowing—at least not in the beginning of what became a very long and tortuous tale indeed, replete with dashed hopes and bitter regrets. In anticipation of the day when she and I would be united at last, I began acquiring bottles and gift sets at every available opportunity—and there were many back then, before the flanker tsunami began to flood our shores.
Today there is nowhere to hide from the salvos of the merciless behemoth which the designer perfume industry has become, pursuing us wherever we may try to seek shelter from its ferocious fury, with hundreds of new launches equipped, it seems, with cluster bombs of flankers, and flankers of flankers, and flankers of flankers of flankers. Pray tell, where will it all end?
Back in the day, there were only a handful of frags, and Cabotine was always in abundant supply at the number one source for perfumes at deep discount before the advent of the internet: the tried and true, the one and only TJMaxx. For those unfamiliar with this fine American “I shop therefore I am” capitalist institution, TJMaxx is basically the perfumista's equivalent of a singles bar frequented by lusty suitors of ill-repute, many of whom are afflicted with multiple STDs. Today TJMaxx struggles to survive, offering “Project Runway” reductions on Dolce & Gabbana bags and the like (who goes to such a store to spend $2K? I ask most sincerely). But back then, they paved the way to many a perfumista's obsession, not the least of which was mine.
Cabotine's charms were many: she was clean, she was green, but deep down inside, she was also just a little bit mean, always incisive and occasionally curt and biting. If the truth be known, I found these qualities in some ways just as appealing as her more socially acceptable character traits. No one could push Cabotine around; she commanded everyone's respect. When she entered a room, a hush fell over the crowd as she sauntered by, eliciting faint cries of delight and sighs of satisfaction at her sight.
Her intellect was as sharp as a sword, and for that she was adored not only by me, but by many others as well. I also always loved the bulbous body of her bottle, and the whimsical molded green plastic cap cut just like the icing roses plopped atop birthday and wedding cakes. She seemed to be mocking the pretense of fashion by donning such a gaudy hat, and I loved her for it. She scoffed at the waif-like supermodels, slathering butter on her bread, and ordering up egg yolk omelettes in defiance of dieters and doctors alike.
Cabotine was cool and, I thought at the time, chic as well, and I always felt that none of this was a matter of sheer coincidence. There seemed to be something there, I read it in her eyes, which moved from side to side like a movie star looking first at my right pupil, and then at my left, back and forth, back and forth, over and over again, a subtle form of flirting which seemed contrived enough to convey her desire, yes, to be with me. She even winked knowingly in my direction, now and then, albeit almost imperceptibly quickly, and together all of these small behavioral cues, which may have gone unnoticed by others present at the time, were just enough to seduce me into thinking that she really was waiting for me, and me alone.
In fact, I succumbed to a trick played on others also by this little witch—and, yes, I'd go so far as to say that she was a bitch. Flirting, teasing, always looking coyly my way as though to say that, yes, there was a real and special, unique connection between us. I later learned, many years later, that she had played this little game with countless others as well, for we all had bottles of Cabotine, but how often did I smell that unmistakeable, big sillage, sharp green abstract floral ginger scent wafting about? In reality, never. Cabotine had devised a clever ruse to which I, among many others, succumbed, each believing that the fetching figure she cut was not just unique, which it was, but that it also was destined for us.
No, Cabotine and I were never meant to be, though I tried to make it work. I attempted time and time again to tolerate her haughty disdain and her strident complaints. Though it took a long time to face up to the fact, the truth of the matter is that, from the very beginning, she and I were mismatched. Like a square peg for a round hole. Like a glove on a foot or a shoe on a hand. How could I have been so naïve, so gullible, so utterly incapable of reading the bright green writing on the wall?
I tried and tried to convince myself that we could make it work, but one day, in a cataclysmic epiphany it came to me: a thunderbolt of lucidity thrust down from the heavens like a javelin by a jealous god (or was it just that venti bold Starbucks?). This was wrong. In every way. She and I had nearly nothing in common, she being a sloth, while a triple A. Even worse, our personalities and moods were completely misaligned. Her happiness always seemed to coincide with my moments of melancholy. When I, in contrast, found myself filled with joy, she would descend like a dark cloud to ruin my day, filling my tortured soul with anxiety, dread, and malaise.
No, Cabotine and I were never meant to be. Despite all of my efforts to jimmy the lock, I never succeeded, nor did I find the key. So there she sits, banished, in solitary confinement, in the darkest corner of the back of my armoire, her punishment for leading me on, time and time again. I have not removed the cap from her bottle in years, and I fear not that she may have gone off, for today she means nothing to me. So she's vintage by now, I suppose, which to some would be a virtue, making her more valuable than ever before. Meanwhile, she, too, is being upstaged by proliferating flankers, her bottle appropriated for other, even less likeable scents. But none of this matters to me in the least. As far as I'm concerned, Oscar can have her. She and I are through, too.
To my surprise, I espied Cabotine recently once again at TJMaxx—located conveniently next door to Whole Foods. There she sat vainly attempting to ply her old trade once again, her face now wizened with age, her make-up caked over crêpe-textured skin, her crinkled mouth smeared with dried blood-red lipstick befitting of a clown. The overall effect evoked graphic images in my mind of Betty Davis and Joan Collins in Robert Aldrich's 1962 film, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? It was pathetic, yes, but she actually tried—and resoundingly failed—in her desperate ploy to capture my affection all over again.
I laughed out loud at what I fool I had been, but rejoiced that now, as a result of what I had survived—it's true, what they say: what does not kill you makes you stronger—I knew better than to fall prey to her wily ways. With the benefit of hindsight, I can say that the price I paid was a pittance for the lesson now etched indelibly in my mind:
Cabotine to me was never more than a tease.
No, Cabotine and I were never meant to be.