Monday, September 22, 2014

The Ubiquity of Scent, part 2

part 1

It's been over a week since I last applied perfume. How has she survived? is no
 doubt a question surfacing in some of your minds. And now, at last, for a small confession of sorts, which will come as no surprise to some of you, I am sure: many of my body products are selected specifically for their appealing scent, in addition to their functional benefits. A case in point: Clarins Huile Orchidée Bleue, which, to be perfectly frank, smells a lot better any new perfume I've tried in recent sniffing history. I have mixed this product with argan oil in a dropper bottle, and I put it on my neck and décolleté area every night before retiring.

Did I lie, when I promised not to wear perfume while caring for my mother's beloved pup? No, of course not. I have not opened the perfume sample vials I brought along. They sit inert, untouched, in my suitcase. Still, there's no unscrambling the egg, as Pentagon officials are wont to lament having funded the heinous crimes of warlords all over the planet, under the assumption that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." Well, not exactly. The principle is more like "forced to collaborate with bad or worse, I'll take bad." The fallacy in the argument, of course, is that anyone is ever forced to collaborate with anyone. But that's another completely different story, redolent of nothing but vice. Let's return to something nice.

My skincare regimen happens to afford me the felicitous opportunity to doze off in a beautiful cloud of scent but without having touched a bottle of perfume. I never agreed to forego my skincare regimen, so I did not lie. It's true that I have been noticing that little Jula seems to suffer allergy attacks especially at bedtime, and she does sleep in a bed on the floor close to mine. Causal connection or pure coincidence? I'm not sure, to be honest, because I always take her out for a bathroom session right before going to bed. She invariably breaks out sneezing the moment we step out the door, and her eyes water, too, clear evidence that this was not all just a pretext on the part of my perfume-phobic mom to prevent me from leaving traces of scent behind. Of course her reason, too, is allergies, but my impression is that she is allergic to added chemicals more than the natural stuff.

My dad, too, like Jula, suffers from severe allergies, especially during the spring, when pollen begins to float about the air. I don't recall my mom ever having suffered in the way that my dad always does from hayfever, but I'll take her word for it! There are a few nagging pieces of evidence in the house, however, which make me wonder how much of her aversion to perfume is a matter of taste and how much a matter of physical discomfort. Perhaps it does not matter, since it is her house, so she's allowed to forbid anything she wants within this space, up to and including smoking.

Which brings me to my stepdad's inveterate pipe-smoking habit. A while back, when I reviewed Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille, my stepdad was brought to the forefront of the perfume blog reading public (perhaps even immortalized!) as I insisted that he smells exactly the same as the drydown of that perfume. Not his tobacco, but him, as he is literally saturated with the scent. Probably the only time he does not smell like pipe tobacco is right after a shower at the gym--before he makes his way outside to light up a pipe once again.

It's a very pleasant smell to me, and I learned before their departure--to my amusement and satisfaction--that in fact he smokes a vanilla-scented tobacco! I actually love the way it smells and told my mom as much. She exhorted me not to share the news with my stepdad, because it would only reinforce and validate his habit! (Of course, I could not resist.)

Well, at this point in history, as "he" approaches "his" eightieth birthday--I suppose that I could name names, but shouldn't I leave something for the biographers to do?????--I don't think that there's going to be any turning back. And, why, after all? This is a guy who for decades has carried three freshly stoked pipes with him wherever he goes--in addition to a sleeve of loose tobacco. So, yes, I'd say that the word incorrigible applies, unless of course one happens to enjoy the scent, as anyone who appreciates Tom Ford's Tobacco Vanille surely would.

Smoking is strictly verboten (auf Deutsch, bitte!) inside the house. However, this humble abode is far from scent free. The hand soap in the upstairs bathroom appears to be one of those triclosan-infused foam generating Soft Soap dispensers. The label has been removed--which is fine with me as the only thing I hate more than plastic containers are plastic containers with their store labels still affixed. I mean, why? Why do I need to know that the Rubbermaid tote in which a serial killer stows the body parts of his victims was made by Rubbermaid? I see this on garbage barrels all over the place. A smooth, monochromatic surface spoiled by an unsightly peel-off label, which no one ever bothered to peel off. When possible, I take the liberty of doing so myself, but touching everyone's trash can is even less appealing than being subject to these omnipresent eyesores. But I digress...

So the Soft Soap--or reasonable facsimile. It is apricot-orange colored and smells very aquatic and calonic. A big "yuck" for me. Not to mention my suspicions about triclosan, which seems to be found in everything these days: hand soap, dish detergent, toothpaste... what????? I was using the orange Soft Soap stuff for the first few days here, as there is no other hand soap in the sink area. Fortunately, at one point I was sufficiently caffeinated to think out of the bottle, so to speak, when I opened the cabinet below, where I espied with relief a bottle of Johnson's Baby Shampoo.

Thankfully, it smells a lot better than triclosan-soaked, artificially orange-colored foam goo, so now I am using that instead. Something about the scent of Johnson's Baby Shampoo is so soothing, perhaps it is tapping into some of my earliest infant memories. Who really knows? What matters now, is that the scent is pleasant enough that I no longer cringe at the prospect of washing my hands. Chez moi, back in Boston, the ready-at-hand bathroom sink soaps are Puig Agua Lavanda and L'Occitane Verveine-scented shea.

Surprise, surprise...

(to be continued)

1 comment:

  1. Too funny, Sherapop! Yeah, I have noticed many, many times that the people who are "allergic" to perfume seem not to be unscented, or even free of "artificial" scents.

    Tobacco Vanille (yum!) has to be one of the universally best-loved-by-parfumistas scents. It's awfully expensive, but significantly more pleasant than the possibility of oral cancer, I guess... (On the other hand, there ought to be an age at which a person can enjoy one's vices without thinking much about it - 80s sounds reasonable.)


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