WARNING: ADULT CONTENT. Contains drug use, SA mockery, fragrance addiction, caffeine abuse, sexual references, chocolate and mild obscenities.
Louise and I were supposed to meet at Tysons II at 10:30 for some sniffage, but we were already running behind. For one thing, she woke up with a migraine and she was a little loopy on her meds. I always have trouble hustling two four-year-olds out the door, and I had a wicked sinus headache, plus I´m taking drugs for my leaf-mold allergies, so I was feeling a little spacey. It was all okay until the traffic on the Beltway stopped because they´d closed our exit for a bomb scare. Honest to God, only in Washington, D.C., with paranoia at Cold War levels, could you get a Beltway closure, three news helicopters and the bomb squad for a section of PVC pipe on the side of the road that probably fell off the back of a plumber´s truck. But there we sat, and I really needed a ladies´ room. It was beginning to cross my mind that layering two kinds of antihistamines with my hard-core prescription headache pills on an empty stomach was maybe not a good idea. We idled. Eventually we came up with Plan B – head further up the highway and double back in the Tysons Corner holiday traffic, my idea of hell. I was addled enough at that point I remember thinking, come on, a pipe bomb?! How many people can you kill with that thing, anyway!? Open the exit and let me through!
But we made it. We started at Starbucks with a little more caffeine for our headaches, where I made myself a sample of Louise´s C&S Frankincense and Myrrh, and handed over my end of the deal. With me flying high, we wandered into Saks, where we had an existential discussion with the SA regarding whether Flowerbomb Extreme really existed anywhere other than in my mind, and she´d only give us one paper test strip at a time (grudgingly). So, Patty and others, you´re right — F-bomb Extreme is a rather nice scent, I can see your guilty pleasure, although honestly its praline-comfort thing reminded me a lot of Betsey Johnson. Then we stopped by the Jo Malone kiosk, where Louise enjoyed the cocoa-powder goodness of Blue Agava & Cacao, and we discussed the question of which JM we hated the most. (Answer: Pom Noir).
At NM I went looking for the Parfum des Merveilles. But again we were stymied by the SA, who wouldn´t let Louise smell Versace’s The Dreamer (“it´s a men´s fragrance,” she kept explaining) and then worked hard to convince me that the Elixir des Merveilles was the parfum variant of the Eau. When that failed, she got busy trying to convince me that the larger of their two Eau bottles was actually the Parfum, and the walls were vibrating a little, at which point I started looking around for the caterpillar with the hookah. She kept producing things I didn´t want to smell but couldn´t find the things I did want to smell, and again there were no paper test strips – they´re all pre-sprayed with Cartier Baiser du Dragon now, and whenever we asked for some clean ones, she left. (Is there some paper shortage I´m unaware of?) I was feeling a little Hunter-Thompson-gonzo-perfume-ish, only I´m female and the drugs were legal, but the trip just kept getting more surreal. I smelled Cartier Declaration, which you can have, and Louise totally fell for the immortelle wonder of Dior´s aptly named Eau Noire.
Along about 2:00 I realized I was hungry, and I should have eaten a salad or something real, but I knew there was no way I could sit still in a chair. So instead we headed for Art With Flowers to smell some niche product, and I had a Vosges Goji chocolate bar (goji berries, pink Himalayan salt – they have other great flavors, too, my second favorite being Red Fire with chipotle chiles and cinnamon), which would have been a perfect lunch in a parallel universe where smart women make foolish choices but don´t get vicious rebound headaches the next day. My discovery of Vosges resembles my discovery of Malle fragrances – I thought $7 was an absurd amount of money for a 3-oz. bar of chocolate, until I tasted it, at which point it seemed perfectly reasonable.
Things got a little hazy after the Vosges. The SMN Kyoto went all soapy on Louise, and I sniffed the L´Artisan Bottega Veneta Intreccio #2 candle, which is less leather, more woods-incense, and just gorgeous, and then I´m pretty sure Bill showed us a new line they´re carrying which features three fragrance oils, some candles built specially for dripping hot wax on the body, a bondage blindfold and vibrators at three price points (gold, silver and platinum!) There I was, holding a vibrator and trying not to giggle because I was worried about snorting a goji berry up my nose, when it dawned on me that the flickering lights were probably a looming migraine and maybe I should go home while I could still see. Louise had some shoe-shopping to do, so we said our goodbyes and I went to throw some cold water on my face in the Neiman Marcus ladies´ before getting behind the wheel.
On the way home I turned on the iPod, which is when I realized my 12-year-old´s been expanding her iTunes playlist beyond Cher and U2 to that rollicking, hilariously unprintable paean to oral pleasure, Pitbull’s Lengua Fuera (“tongue out”) – which, okay, I love reggaeton, if you´re not squirming to that beat you must be dead, and is there anything hotter than the way those guys say “mami”? But where on earth did she find this song, and now that she’s in her second year of Spanish, does she have any idea what he´s talking about? (Note to self: check iPod playlist when you get home. Discuss.)
I went home and cleaned up – the house, I mean. I thought some physical labor would help me re-tether to planet Earth. It helped. Eating a sandwich and drinking several large glasses of water helped, too. I had a great time, except I worry that Louise thought I was insane. Louise, hon, if you´re reading this – I think you should buy the Eau Noire. Definitely.