Saturday, January 16, 2010

Aloft and found

I find the department store ladies who want to spritz you with perfume menacing. Sometimes they don’t wait for you to say yes or no, they just start squirting. These ladies are required to be very made-up and lipsticked, and wear high heels. They’re scary. And armed with something potentially awful.

I don’t spritz perfume directly on my skin. I spray it in front of me and dash through the mist. I call this the lion-through-the-hoop method of perfumery. Subtle, no? Sometimes I spray it straight up towards the ceiling, close my eyes and let it fall on me. I haven’t got a name for this. My husband laughs. Apparently there’s a joke about the Italian police doing the same thing. I don’t get this joke.

My perfume is Guerlain’s L’Heure Bleue. I like pretty much all the Guerlains, in fact, but there’s gluttony to think about. Today at the store I spritzed myself with Mitsouko, a fragrance that reminds me of almonds crushed in warm milk. I think that’s what it is. I could concoct it at home. Ignore all that talk about bergamot and oakmoss.

Another scent I like is garlic being sautéed in oil. And gasoline. Bacon. Cake baking. Campfire. Marijuana, too, though I abstain. Also the smell of those mimeographs that have become obsolete.

17 comments:

ron hardy said...

Sarah,I'm with you on the garlic, gasoline and the mimeograph smell. Fresh ground coffee lying in residue under the grocery store grinder. Right about the level of my nose at that age. And fresh basil. Once when I was 20 or so I walked into a department store in Kaiserslautern for the first time. Three women, count them, 3, descended on my as I was looking at raincoats. They took two coats and hustled me off to a set of mirrors. They literally put the coats on me and belted them. Ten minutes later I was out on the street looking like a sad version of Inspector Gadget.The coat was two or three sizes to large. After that I hunkered through any store like I was on the Maginot Line. Call that routine cloudburst. Send me some 4711. smile

SarahJane said...

Ground coffee and basil are also great. Rosemary is great, but you need to get up close to it. Ditto our Christmas tree, while still resident.

In such a raincoat you could dash through clouds of perfume, otherwise naked.

A woman in the dark only has her fragrance.

lucas said...

I'm not a natural at gushing but, Sarah, each swerve in your writing takes me by surprise. I adore it utterly and when I'm reading it feel so goddamn lucky to be reading it.

BJeronimo said...

I tell myself that I return here because of your joy in words and perspective on life. But sometimes it's the seduction in the language and topic; the depth of imagery or in this scent.

I enjoy leather, particularly new shoes, cigars, citrus, sage and basil. I use different variants of Creed.

ron hardy said...

Any woman who has the verb dash in her vocabulary.....sigh.
I had that raincoat for twenty years. I eventually grew into it.

The memory of scents and fragrances is an interesting and tricky phenomena.

A woman in the light has the fragrance of her smile.

Peter said...

Delightful.

The period after "oil" in the last paragraph doesn't stop me from considering a humorous way of sauteing garlic.

michi said...

yes! i am glad i am not the only one who finds them frightening!! sniff.

Christine Swint said...

When I was younger, like in my late teens, early twenties, I would feel bad if the spritzer ladies didn't come at me. I thought it was because I looked poor, and they knew I wouldn't be able to buy their perfume.

I like your musings on perfume and smells.

SarahJane said...

Sauteeing garlic in oil and gasoline would be a dangerous undertaking. But the smell! Who knows.

Thanks for reading, all.

Christine - you surely smelled good enough already... smile

Jill said...

I have heard of these women, but always thought they were mythical because I've never actually encountered them! I, too, love the smell of gasoline! And boat gas, just as the boat is taking off. Skunks, too.

This conversation is becoming a poem on its own!

SarahJane said...

I assure you they exist. But only when wearing lipstick.

Jasmine said...

Being one with a hyperactive olfactory sense, this post draws me particularly.
You are one of the most gifted women I know Sarah,I wish I could share random musings with you some day.

Jeff said...

When I was in high school, there was a girl in my class who wore an incredible scent. She also had the responsibility of handing out the weekly test quiz papers. When she came by my desk, as she was leaning down, I would close my eyes and breathe in as deeply as I could.

Maybe I should send this into PostSecret?

The faint smell of tobacco and even printing ink does that to me now. I like a little danger in my scented life.

I've also been known to stuff my face into a bunch of cilantro at the market as well...herb porn...

- J.

SarahJane said...

Thanks, Jasmine! My father's sense of smell is largely lost, and what a loss . . .

Jeff - Ah cilantro! In Chinese it's called "fragrant grass."

I also like the smell of hospitals, as if they were reassuring?

rallentanda said...

I wear Tresor It smells like toffee apples.Garlic is good.Dope smells like burning cow shit Most fortunately I have always hated the smell ...if I liked it I probably would have been the biggest head in the southern hemisphere as I have strong self indulgent tendencies. I became a boring intellectual instead.

mitchell said...

Are you speaking of the spritxing ladies in Europe? Or in the States? Ever since a landmark case nearly 20 years ago, wherein a lady from Manhattan won a $75,000 lawsuit as a result of her anaphylactic reaction to an unsolicited spray in Bloomingdales 3rd Avenue, it has been required for spritzers to ask the shopper's permission prior to depressing the spray valve.
I have worked in that industry for 37 years, asnd number such spritz-ladies and gents not only among my acqiantances, but also amongst my friends. Many of them are widows or divorcees who devoted their lives to family, only to find themselves single and self-supporting at a rather late age. Some are educated quite well but have not practised their careers because of domesticity; some are not especially educated at all. They have to wear makeup and heels because they are working in a Saks, a Neiman's, or a Bloomies. Spraying people with fragrance, be it Guerlain or Juicy Couture, for $12.50 an hour is a soul-destructive way to earn one's living, and if you find yourselves scared of these ladies, imagine how scared they are to go to work every day.

SarahJane said...

aw mitchell, don't be mad. I know these ladies are just making a living. I'm more afraid of the fragrance than the lady. I mean, there's a lot of crap perfume out there, right? And I'm sure the customers who are made up and lipsticked and shod in high heels are not afraid of these ladies at all.

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