Holiday Scent Club: Winter Delice and Theorema

She watched the snow fall, large gobbets of flakes clinging together in clumps, settling on the window ledge, only inches from her face. Her sighing breath formed a neat round oh on the glass, slowly shrunk and disappeared, only to be replaced by its successor. She sighed more heavily and the circle increased in size, and she wished she could be obliterated by the flakes, like the shrubs outside, just as she had temporarily obliterated her reflection in the cold pane.

Behind her, the tree lay on the floor where the children had pulled it down. They had become irritable after lunch, their sugar-addled minds bored by their toys, frustrated with being indoors. The snow was still rain at this point, and there was no hope of a turn around the gardens.The chaos she was studiously avoiding, by watching the snow, had started as a racing game. But it wasn’t long before her eldest son’s eyes were lit up with destructive fire. It never was. He pulled off the first decoration to hand, and flung it at his sister. She joined in, and soon the tree was rocking unsteadily in its container. Of course her sweetest and youngest child had little choice but to play his part, his adoration for his older brother making him an instant mimic. She’d attempted to intervene, but what her husband had told her before lunch made any action seem futile. There were bigger worries now. The destruction of the tree seemed almost comic: this day was well and truly awry already. Once the wrecking was wrought, they fled the room, fearful of their father who continued to consume too much port in the far reaches of the house, mumbling and shouting to himself. She heard occasional squeals and yelps from the children above her head, and was waiting for Timmy to come vaulting down the stairs, floods of tears, or a bump and bruise, or some small cut inflicted by his adored sadist of a brother the reason for his reappearance. He only sought out his mother, now he was five, when he needed nursing. The spontaneity of his love had dwindled, like the smile that used to play constantly on his features.

Shards of baubles surrounded the corpse of Christmas, their round forms now in sharper decorative patterns. The fairy lights had blinked twice during the topple, before going out for good. It was all such a mess. Much like the perfume she had unwittingly selected. She thought that ginger cake and pine and vanilla would be fitting and harmonious. But her wrist was a cacophony of clashing elements, the over-riding impression cold zinc or… No, not possible. Was that really blood? She drew her face away, lips curled.

If only she’d chosen her favourite, Theorema. Perhaps then the day would have fitted itself around that harmonious blend, rather than becoming the crash and clash of Winter Delice. She continued to gaze at the snowfall, and imagined the golden glow of the cinnamon and orange creaminess, rich and voluptuous and full. She’d have been in control in that, or else able to hide behind the cloud of seamless notes diffusing themselves around her. Enveloped by these, anything could have been possible. She certainly wouldn’t be here, moping and wishing her wrists were someone else’s. She’d be straightening that tree, straightening her dissolute sot of a husband, and making sure her children had all the right reasons to remember this Christmas. She was resolved to change her scent, and change the day. This is it, she thought, I know what to do. A quick scrub and a few sprays will restore me. Ready to move, she decided to spend a last few moments alone with the snow.

But she never got the chance. A shadow lurched into the room. She turned to see her husband, swaggering, glass in hand, untucked, splashes of port staining his cuffs and shirtfront. He swayed in front of her, smiled vacuously, eyes unfocused, and lifted one leg to the side. A brief pause of stillness, and then the fart was long, loud, percussive and followed by a hearty chuckle from him, a tired sneer from her. She knew he’d had too many sprouts and chestnuts at lunch. Post-Theorema, that would be another thing for her to take charge of. She immediately – and wisely – vacated the room. Down to business.

57 Comments

  1. Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant! Please tell me you have a novel in the works. And I must agree w/ you on Winter Delice – it really does have a very pronounced zinc note on my skin. Hadn’t thought about blood. Don’t think I want to retry it to check.

    • No novel in the works – just tinkering around the edges. Zinc is justified – thank you.

  2. Oh Lee… that was amazing. I was really starting to wonder where you were going with it, but I loved the ride. The two perfumes were perfectly juxtaposed there.

    Incidentally, Winter Delices smells exactly like my Nana’s and I have no idea why. Maybe it;s the smell of an ailing grandfather, or maybe weird apartment building smell. I am not sure. But one whiff and I was looking for Nana. I definatly get the jaggedness there too.

    Theorama is quite the opposite. Sweet creamy and smooth. like a well blended smoothie or some sort.

    • I think for me there is something essentially sad about Winter Delice. And that’s why I ended up rambling where I did…

  3. I love Winter Delice and have been wearing it almost exclusively since mid-November. One of the things that captivates me is what you refer to as zinc or blood but on my skin, smells like tarnished silver.

    Lee, your writing…Do I have to come over there?! Brilliant, and more so than usual. Thanks so much.

  4. You naughty, naughty man. I hope March will join me in upbraiding you. I love Winter Delice. It does have a human note in it, but that’s fine by me. I love the pine and gingerbread and incense. It’s Christmas! I had not tried it until it was assigned for the club. I got my order from the Perfumed Court. I was very tired and was heading for bed and I thought, “What the heck? I’ll spritz on some Winter Delice. It’s probably soothing.” Ten minutes later, I had turned on the computer again and was ordering TWO bottles at a very reasonable price (about $37 each), securing for myself some of the remaining stock of this discontinued beauty. And, by the way, it smells wonderful on my DH too even though the thing screams “Maria!”

    Theorema calls my name softly but just as clearly. The top notes are listed as Thai shamouti (haven’t the foggiest), eglantine, and California tangelos. That opening is just like California tangelos! (It may be like tangelos from elswhere, but I have not tested that.) People always mention orange, but it’s tangelo.

    I’ve been wearing these two beauties lately and loving it. Hey, I think I’ll go spritz on some more Winter Delice in your honor.
    :d

      • Sorry, Lee dear, but I’m in the Hummer with the girls. I tried the Delice today, and it is divine! Mostly smoky fir, a little frost-evokes deep and pleasing remembrance of my Oregon youth. Off to track some down online :))

  5. that was highly amusing! Winter Delice is one of my biggest disappointments. It quickly develops an unforgivable burnt note on me (Somalian Incense?!?) like Santa caught in the fireplace. Ugh. Anyone know a Winter-Delice-alike without the dead Santa note?

    • I don’t – the closest I get to pine is Fou d’Absinthe… Dead santa note – hey, there’s a seasonal idea for Comme des Garcons once they get over their Luxe schtick.

  6. But then Winter Delice had been so right only a few days ago, when a sudden snowfall had turned everything into the much-lauded Winter Wonderland. Her husband had had one of the rare moments when she remembered why she had married him in the first place and had taken the children to the woods to cut the Christmas tree while she stayed in the kitchen, humming to herself, as she worked among spices and mincemeat, taking tray after tray of cookies out of the oven, peeling oranges and tangerines to dry their peel for the mulled wine on Christmas Eve. She had gone to the door, the smell of her baking wafting behind her, a half-peeled tangerine in her hands. The clear, icy air and the scent of the freshly cut pine tree had hit her face, lighting as much of a happy smile as the sight of her family’s bright, happy faces as they presented the tree to her, Timmy glowing with pride and importance as he carried in an armful of holly and mistletoe. It had been perfect then, the embodiment of that one perfect moment. But the rain had taken the snow, and the clarity and sharp, cutting joy of Christmas preparations had given way to the mess she was faced with. She should have chosen the warm glow of Theorema to convey festivity and to strengthen, comfort and uphold her, to provide gentle, golden light. Theorema would make things right. Winter Delice, she now knew, was for the time when things were right already and she needed a way to let the piercing exhilaration inside her sing.

    P.S. Lovely piece, Lee, my compliments!

  7. It doesn’t matter where you’re running with your lovely writing, it all ends up stunning, even when punctuated with a fart. Such a picture of domestic bliss at the holidays /:) Thanks.

    I don’t know Winter Delice, may meet her in fact today. Sadly, Theorema blast far too candied orange peel sweet on me, though it is lovely on others.

    • So sad about Theorema. Thank goodness there’s no candied orange peel on me. Just fresh tangelos.

    • It’s my gift to look on the bright side of life – :-”

      Tell us how it goes with WD…8-x

      • I just got back from our little playdate, and Delice smells great on her! She’s going home to buy a bottle online.

        >:p

        — Yours sincerely,

        March The Mature

        • Well, I’m pleased. Pleased that there will be less available stock of that hideous concoction!>:/ :-j

  8. Hated, I mean hated Winter Delice last year around this time. Bought a FB on ebay based on the notes. Maybe it was a bad bottle, my skin, my nose, maybe my brain but it was awful! I was scrunching and twisting my face in anticipation of *that* again when I got my Club decant. Well, it’s love now. If Maria hasn’t bought them all up, I think I’ll buy a bottle!

    Theorama, I adore. The colder it is outside the better for this one. Otherwise the sweetness can be too much. I think it was March who suggested layering with DK Chaos. Tried it. Incredible!!!

    Lee, all I can say is … thank you. Your story captured me totally. My Christmas tree has never been torn down (well the cat climbed to the top one year and it fell down (in slow motion). But I have had those wrong perfume days. Those ‘what was I thinking’ days. The right choice can add so much….
    :)>-

    • I am glad you liked the Theorema and Chaos! To me, Theorema shares some of those base notes … together they are Da Bomb. Like you, I like to temper Theorema’s candied sweetness just a little.

    • My nose is yet to transform its relationship with this one and I fear it’s still a long way off… Happy that it’s worked out for you though.

      I’m glad you liked the post – I think more cliched melodrama is just what the posse needs…;)

  9. Oh, God, how I hate you. ūüôā I have to follow that?!?!?

    But what an apt description of Winter Delice. Couldn’t you have had a couple of puking kids in that mess? That would have just rounded it all out.

    • I’m sure you’ll follow it wonderfully.

      The puke might’ve been accurate for the scent, but overkill for the vignette…

  10. I warned you I was going to cry if you ragged Delice, but instead you made me laugh.

    I totally disagree with you, though.:d I think it’s a great Christmas scent.

    • You enjoy it. How did the cookie bake-off and tree decoration go at yours? Wonderfully no doubt.:x

      • The Cheese came down at some point, holding his ears and yelling over the din, *what* is going ON down here?!?!?

        I told him that was the sound of 8 13YO girls and a lot of sugar…;)

        They had a great time, but it took us two days to clean the kitchen.

  11. Bravo, bravissimo! Well done, and thank you. I’ve sniffed none of these so can’t comment but … had sudden mental image of the Perfume Posse gathering for parlor games: draw 3 sample vials from a bowl, sniff, tell a story.

    • That sounds like a FANTASTIC parlour game. Would I had the friends for it.

  12. teehee what larks! Inspired way to describe two scents I do not know and am now intrigued by. Cheers, Lee!

  13. 20 of these and you have to print your book, Lee!
    I am sitting in a meeting, and couldn’t stop reading your post. Wow, that is touching, original, far beyond the average. Depressive in a way, charming in an other. I loved it and I am touched.
    More of these, please…..

  14. There’s somethin’ in the chimney and I don’t know what it is, but it’s been there all year long so we lit a fire and PEEE-UUU !!

    • Not just A camera – several. Though you weren’t the source material for THIS story…;):-“

  15. Crap, now I’m going to have to try these out! I wasn’t going to since I’m making an effort to save money (or at least spend less), especially with all the holiday shopping, but now you’ve enticed me, with the good and the bad! I think I’ll be making a visit to the Perfumed Court soon . . .

  16. You are indeed our resident evil literary genius! Another coup, my dear FIP (friend in perfume).

    I had such an odd reaction to WD. I put it on and thought “ok, this is rather nice, very wintery, this just might work.” But then a few minutes later I found myself feeling very anxious and restless and realized it was the fragrance doing that to me. There is something unsettling and wrong running like an undercurrent beneath the scent. I’ve never had such a reaction to a scent before, so I’m not sure what to make of it. But for now, at least, I’ll stick to appreciating it on others.

    Theorema I was hoping to adore, but it was just a skoche too orange-the-fruit for me. I’m very hit or miss with orange scents – some work for me, others don’t – so alas, I’ll also have to limit myself to enjoying Theorema on others.

    **pouting in corner over my 0-2 batting average today** ūüėČ

    • I try, my lovely, I try…>-)

      Well, I’m glad you’re confirming the bizarre effect WD has on me. I don’t wear Theorema (too femme) but I can admire it.

      I hope your score card is better by Friday.

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