[Come summer heat, much of my blogging momentum melts away. Hence an experiment until Labor Day: fifty minimalist posts about whatever.]
Fragrant detergents, room fresheners, even perfumed soaps, are not for me, and not because we now know they contain (toxic) phthalates. I’ve always disliked them. They smell cheap.
I don’t like fragrances on men either, even the ones with expensive French names, although I have in the past bought them for beloveds because it seemed the romantic thing to do. Of course, they would then splash themselves generously for my benefit, which was actually counterproductive; I’ve always preferred the smell of clean man to anything out of a bottle.
Nor am I wild about even a passing whiff from a perfumed woman. Here I’m apparently not alone. Two friends and one daughter-in-law claim an allergy to fragrance and have asked me to refrain when in their company. Of course, I comply.
Yet paradoxically, refraining leaves me feeling naked. Nakeder than naked — as I also wear fragrance, even when nothing else, to bed. It must come from my mother. When I was a child, her person and closet were always a delicious cloud of Lentheric’s Tweed. On my sixteenth birthday, she gave me Elizabeth Arden’s Blue Grass.
Like mother, like daughter, if not in the details. She moved on to Estee Lauder; in college it was Muguet de Bois (Lily of the Valley) for me. My first husband kept me anointed with Lanvin’s Arpege. Between husbands, I was a Balenciaga woman (Quadrille and Le Dix). After I began to earn lawyer money, I recklessly explored perfume counters: Dior’s Poison, Anais Anais, Un Bois Vanille (Serge Lutens), Dolce and Gabbana (the red box), and in summer, Dolce and Gabbana Light Blue. Then Bill and I began to travel. I discovered duty-free airport shops!
We don’t travel anymore, but now there’s Perfume.com. Well into my eighties and long since the dwindling of my income stream, two bottles continue to stand on my bureau: Caleche for every day, 24 Faubourg for feeling special. (Both from Hermes, if you’re buying.) Male phlebotomists, physical trainers, nice men on railroad platforms still ask what I’m wearing, sometimes how to spell it (so they can buy it for their girlfriends), and that pleases me.
One last thought about all this: Just before cremation, don’t forget to spray me. 24 Faubourg will do.