One of my very true best friends lives a long way away from me: she’s a hop, skip and a jump from Stanford University, whereas I’m in the rural heart of Suffolk, England (unfortunately now more known for its serial killer and bird flu than anything else). I see her much less often than I’d like and this sometimes gives me that melancholy longing for when we so much younger and she lived just round the corner. Those were the days when we’d just hang out, unthinking of the future that would place us an ocean and a continent apart…
One way we’re currently communicating is through smell – I sent J a collection of forty or so mini-atomisers just after Christmas, and she’s been wearing one a day since then. Just one a day. Seriously. Now, I’m not sure I need to point this out but I will do anyway: this marks a massive difference between our personality types. If I were her, I’d have torn open that package and every inch of exposed flesh would have been sprayed – a mélange of stinkitude would emanate from me and I’d no longer be able to tell where one ended and another begun. Even if one was Arabie and another Baby Phat DibDab. No doubt I’d expose some additional body parts just for good measure. I’d be in trouble both for indecent exposure and environmental pollution.
I don’t doubt that J’s strategy is more adept at helping her know the smells than my “spray them all and see what happens” technique. Well, technique is not really the right word… Each of her atomisers is receiving the time it deserves and being lived with rather than frenzy sniffed. I admire her for it, truly I do, cos it’s something I find next to impossible. I’m impressed by those people who are able to say, “I’ll try this one today,” as though the rest of the bottled buggers aren’t screaming loudly, “pick me! pick me!”. It’s so very rare for me to wear just one scent at any one time, even if I know and feel I should.
J, however, doesn’t stop there. My decants are stored in a number of shoddy and shabby containers (most noticeably old shoe boxes – you can see that I aim for style icon status), in a state of disarray and mumblejumblement. I occasionally attempt to stand them up to “make them look neat”, but they readily do that domino topple trick to tell me that I should end the pretending. J’s are placed in a beautiful wooden box, untested separated from tested. Not satisfied with that organisational feat, the tested scents are placed in rank order from most to least liked. My jaw hangs loose in wonder.
I’m never going to be like J on the organisational front; she’s never going to be like me. I don’t know whether you’ve ever taken a Myers-Briggs personality test, either for work or fun, but if you have, you’ll know that J shows classic judging qualities, and I exhibit hard and fast perceiving ones. If you don’t know what I’m on about, you can track down a test online and find out. Really. I sometimes think it’s as accurate a match of who you are as a horoscope, but on the odd occasion it somehow seems uncannily right. And this is one example of that rightness in action. Or oddness in action. You decide.
Now, I doubt very much whether our scent tastes correspond with our personality types directly, and certainly not our Myers-Briggs profiles, but there are undoubtedly certain scents that I can admire, even love, but can’t wear because of who I am. Or perhaps more accurately, who I’m not. Rather like my wonder at J’s organisational powers, these fragrances fill me with slack jawed astonishment at their beauty – I can sneak them onto my skin in private moments but could never been seen in them in public. They’re just not me. Just as organisatonal prowess never will be.
Top of the list of JNMs is Un Lys. Now, it could be because it’s too feminine that I can’t wear this, but in my head I have it down as too pure, too precise for me to manage. I adore it, in spite of my terror of white florals, and would willingly scent the world in its sparkling beauty, but I might just as well dress in a frilly French maid outfit and crotchless knickers (please, don’t imagine) as get away with this on my skin.
Next up is Angelique Encens. You see how tough this JNM category is? I love love love AE from that honey powder candy opening, to its incense rich heart notes, yet I’m never dapper or louche enough to fit it. And I know this is subjective and that some readers will be screaming that I should just wear what I love, but the point is what I love is not always what I am.
Finally I thought I best throw in something a little more butch, for in spite of the previous two scents and the look of this blog, I’m damn manly, me (I mean – check out my pic)! Fahrenheit is one of my true loves from long ago (well, the 80s anyway), and a scent I wore out and wore out in my teens and twenties. It’s JNM now because it was exactly me back then, and I’ve changed. Attempting to recapture the past seems like a trap to me, and I’d rather enjoy the nostalgia than pretend I’m still the person I once was. So I’ll sniff it, experience the pleasant melancholia that comes with that peculiar personal engagement with the passing of time, but not try to be it ever again.
So, over to you. Tell me about your organisational derring-do, alongside any JNMs you might have.
Photo from the Sydney Morning Herald. Hat designed by Antonio Alvarado.