Hung over from a long night in a Juarez bar back in 1979, staring into my bottle of tequila, (not tequila perfume), contemplating how I would get back across the border without the passport I’d lose in a card game, I looked up and spotted this tiny spy-looking little woman across the room. Hey, it wouldn’t hurt to ask. I meandered over, offered her a shot. After forking over the required cash, she got me on a bus headed back across the border with a fake passport, disguised as a nun. We were fast friends since then.
Hey, it’s a better story than how we actually met! We’ve never actually met yet, but I keep hoping we’ll manage it this summer, maybe some perfume shopping in NYC. March bought a sample from me, and it never showed up. I think she’s one of two packages that never showed, and the other got lost on the way to Russia. It was fate. So being a customer and all, she asked me, fairly politely, where in the hell her sample was. It was Messe de Minuit, and I wanted to tell her she was going to regret it, it was better it never arrived, that stuff was just vile, but instead, I just held my nose, packed up another sample and sent it off to her, and then we got to talking about how she loved it, and I was just shocked that MdM smelled like something other than old musty books, and I figured her for some goth-girl freak, and then I found out she was a “normal” person with a life kinda like mine. Then we got to sharing samples back and forth of other things and bits about our lives and who we were, found out we both love gardening and perfume and our kids and have funny, charming husbands, and it has turned into one of the loveliest friendships I have. I have others I treasure as well, but I’m not writing about those right now.
I’ve made other friends over perfume that I treasure so much as well, and I know many of you have too. There have been lots of other hobbies and interests I have had on the internet before where I made cyber-friends, and some of them have lasted decades, and one of them led to me meeting my husband, but few are as easy as my perfume friends. That got me to thinking why, as I rocked in Dr. Phil’s armchair, and then I formed a theory. Our shared love of perfume is about a sense, and it is a sense that is rooted in memory and emotion. Traveling through life, when things happen to us, scent is always there as the background, the color, and it has vast power to bring the past into the present when we smell something associated with a strong memory. It is sometimes horrifying how quickly I can turn into a gawky 13-year-old girl when I smell certain things, or a tarty 20-something carousing bars when I smell something else. As we talk about the scents we love and hate, we are telling things about ourselves. It may not be something we are actually telling, but it is coming from the place that holds our lives, our memories, who we are. Friendships are more easily forged and held, and they seem kinder because we have really connected in something other than a surface way with these other freaks that are obsessed over perfume.
Okay, I’ll scoot out of my psychological armchair now.
Ormonde Jayne Frangipani Absolute — Notes of linden blossom, magnolia flower and lime peel, white frangipani, jasmine, rose and tuberose absolutes, water lilies, plum, green orchid oil, Amber, musk, cedar and French vanilla absolute. I get a little carried away when I spritz this one on. With all the notes in it, you’d think this would be overpowering, but the blend and the balance is amazing. It never goes to the sickening sweet tropical flower that you think it will, just enough green and linden that keep it honest and magical. Put this on, and you are going to an island in your head. It’s sunshine and flowers and green and relaxing. This is just one of my favorite lines, right up there with my deep affection for Hermes and de Rosine. There is not one perfume she has made that I do not love and enjoy wearing.
Now, let’s see what I have in my much-wished-for Fendi Spy handbag that I shall never own for the sample give-away this week. How about your choice of one Ormonde Jayne sample (I have all but Osmanthus) and a Serge sample of one that I have, which I can go through what’s available with the winner.
Just send all your good wishes that a great deal on a Fendi Spy will drop in my lap in the comments, and you shall be entered in the drawing, which I’ll do on Thursday night and post the winner on Friday this week. Now, if anyone has a gently used Fendi Spy they would part with for a reasonable price, I can heartily assure you will be this week’s winner!
Do you think your perfume friends have a special bond that is different than normal? Other than bonding over our freakish hobby, I mean? And why?
:(( I only have one friend that likes perfume as much as I do and she’s broke most of the time. :((
My other friends like the dreaded fruity-floral stuff, and another friend is hyper-allergic to nearly all scents (really, not just an anti-scentite). My mom is getting a little more hip to the nice stuff as I slowly introduce her to some fine quality stuff. She has to watch her pocket-book too, but I will share samples and decants, and gift her on all the holidays.
“I made cyber-friends, and some of them have lasted decades, and one of them led to me meeting my husband”
GEEZ, what a moron!!! =))
Dang, I have racked my brain, and I cannot remember that trip to Juarez, although I still have my tattoo:”>
I have to confess that I don’t have many perfume friends. Indeed my friends look more than a little horrified when I try on one of my expensive perfumes. “Its how much?????” I don’t care though…we all have our vices and perfume beats the hell out of a lot of other choices. The way I see it, even the most expensive perfume is lot cheaper than cocaine and lasts more than one weekend too. Not to mention that you can legally sell your stash on ebay.
I do love to read your blog and feel as though we’re friends, even if you don’t know me at all. I know you would agree with me on the perfume vs. cocaine/gambling/alcohol and somehow, thats enough.
I’ve never tried an OJ and would love to.
I don’t remember…too much tequila! :d
Forgot to say that I loved your anecdote! I think I like it better than the mexico story.
I’m not a Kirsten Dunst fan either, so I admit to some prejudice when thinking of her playing Marie Antoinette.
Don’t really know much about it, but all the perfume bloggers that I have been reading seem to be genuinely nice, which makes it a nice change from the way the world at large appears to be.
Mimi, I’m afeared of that movie, but I did work up a post for tomorrow that talks about it. Not a Kirsten Dunst fan here
Steph — isn’t corrupting your friends or uncovering their dirty little fragrance fiendishness just delightful?
Marina — wait, you WERE there, don’t you remember?
Aw, to be in that seedy tequila bar with you and March…*sigh*
I tend to discover that my current friends have dirty little fragrance habits instead! Am planning on sending a big batch of samples across the country for one of them as a surprise (shh) 🙂
Good luck on the Spy!
I think it’s a very moving question and not an easy one to answer.
I would love to see this biographical detail treated in a movie; it could be great. I also saw a small, graceful pitcher at the Conciergerie that was used by M-A upon leaving her prison for the guillotine to quench her thirst. It was handed to her by a woman, an aristocrat, I think, and carefully kept in that woman’s family over the generations before they bequeathed it to the museum.
For the moment being we have Sofia Coppola’s movie “Marie-Antoinette” due out in Oct 2006, a whole different atmosphere it seems. Kirsten Dunst is a bit surprising for me as a pick for the role, but maybe it will turn out to be interesting.Check out the trailer:
Pam, I have more hair than Dr. Phil, and I’m not so cranky and hypocritical most days. 🙂
Victoria, what a lovely story. I’ve met people like that, too, just so generous and giving, and I think perfume brings out the best in people, just wanting to share that thing that means so much to you with another person. I know I get a vicarious kick of hearing other people meet a much-loved scent for the first time.
Emotenote, exactly! It is in the pauses that life is made sweet.
Mimi, I love that story about M-A. I think I’d feel the same way too. When all else is gone, grab something you love that brings to mind better times, happier memories of all that you loved.
Now I’m thinking of what bottle I would take to the guilllotine with me?
I think perfume and cosmetics for women is a little like sports and cars for men, a way of connecting without appearing to because humans need those deeper connections, the unspoken ones.
I was reading Emotenote’s post about how to order in a southern restaurant, that you are expected to chat up the waitperson first. Life is so busy for most of us, we forget how pleasant it is just to visit with a stranger for a few minutes.
You know? I have no idea what Frangiapani smells like, but I’m willing to try! I’ve heard wonderful things about OJ, where have I been? I think that part of the bond of Perfume fanatics is that we tend to “stop and smell the roses” so to speak. We take the time to find the nuances and to think about what we’ve smelled and live it. I love to delve into the comfort of a fine tea with friends, or a fine wine out with DH, and these are the people I want to know, and hang out with. In a way it’s an artistic life. And..you had me going there for a second with the mexico story..
Great story! I met the most wonderful lady on Ebay a couple of months ago. After I sniped a precious bottle of vintage Guerlain from her, she wrote to me asking if she could possibly buy a sample from me, because she would love to try that perfume. I said that I would be happy just to send it, and in return she sent me a pile of samples from her rarest bottles! We are definitely not sharing the kind of friendship that you and March have, but it is always nice knowing that there are kind and generous people out there.
What an enjoyable post, Dr Patty. AFAIC, you can fill in for Dr Phil any day!
Like others here, I’ve met some great fellow perfumistas via the ‘net and keep up with some of them faithfully. One treats me like a sister, though we’ve never actually met in person. None of my in-person pals is a perfumista, though.
Mimi Froufrou, I also have heard that story about M-A. Supposedly M-A was carrying a bottle of something by Houbigant. ITA. It’s about more than just aesthetics. Much more. @};-
LOL about the encounter on the Mexican border in a seedy environment!
I definitely feel a connection to other perfume lovers that goes beyond the exchange over fragrances itself. I think that speaking of friendship with perfumistas, I’m reminded of a story I read somewhere concerning Marie-Antoinette. As you may already know, M-A loved perfumes, in particular, light rose and violet scents that she made fashionable at the court. I’m told that on the last day of her life when she was on her way to be decapitated at the guillotine, she carried a perfume bottle under her garment to give her courage. At that point, she had lost her husband, friends, and her son had been taken away from her to be brought up by a prison guard. I don’t know if this is a true story or a legend, but I incline to think it’s possible because I do believe that when everything else appears ugly, cold, cruel,and even inhuman in this case,somehow,a fragrance can restore your faith in the forces of life, nature, humanity, and beauty, bring you consolation through the evocation of your own humanity, of the person you were and still are.
So, this is to say that, although M-A is dead since more than 200 years ago, I do feel an immediate connection to her hearing that story. I think that perfume lovers have the same type of moral makeup. It’s not just about aesthetic pleasure, it goes deeper than that.