When Pigs Fly

I sat on the wooden steps of the back porch this morning, watching the squirrels chase each other through the fallen leaves as I contemplated the crop of black walnuts dangling perilously in the stand of trees across the back of our property.  Black walnuts  — delicious treats coveted by man and beast alike that will stain everything, including your childrens’ curious hands, a deep dark brown — hurtled randomly toward the turf from 60 feet up, each tangerine-sized nut hitting the damp earth with an audible thwump like an unexploded grenade.  Perhaps I should get the children to wear helmets out there for the time being.   My Darlow’s Enigma roses, eternal optimists from April to November, are still sending up tendrils that end in a snowburst of fragrant white flowers.  One of these mornings we will have frost, but not yet.  I watch the steam rise from my coffee mug and smile.  Why does this time of year, when everything is fading, always feel so full of promise to me?

* * *

14-year-old Diva broke my reverie by sticking a scented arm under my nose.  She had found a perfume she really, really loved.  It’s a new release from an old, established house that would shame no one, it’s not terribly expensive or difficult to find, her friend has it, it’s perfect.  She wants me to get her some.   I took one deep inhale, recognized the scent immediately and my mind uttered the three words that now title today’s post.  One thing is for sure: that child will not be wearing that scent in this house.

There are certain smells — smells free of any recollectible association of torture or abuse — that I cannot abide.  Diva’s fragrance is one of them.  I have had, I guess, my share of perfume turnarounds over the last few years, but there are some notes, and some fragrances, that I cannot fathom ever changing my opinion on.

One notable, categorical reversal was on gourmand vanillic fragrances.  I can blame one too many inhales of some particularly noxious Comptoir Sud Pacifique at Sephora for my initial loathing.  But somewhere awhile back, the vanilla wall started to crumble.  I found myself powerfully, strangely, heretically attracted to Guerlain’s Spiritueuse Double Vanille, the fragrance to which I owe eternal love for introducing me to the concept of the Smoky Vanilla, which is one of the universe’s finest fragrance combinations.  Of course, making your own is better.  I recommend Diptyque’s Essense of John Galliano or CB I Hate Perfume’s Burning Leaves (on the fancy niche end) or Demeter Bonfire on the cheap end, layered with whatever vanilla most tickles your fancy.  (My choice for vanillas to layer with smoke: Givenchy Organza Indecence or the dirt-cheap Demeter Egg Nog, and no, I am not funning you.)   From there it was a short, slippery slope to my newfound devotion for vanillic Godzilla fragrances like Dior Addict and Hypnotic Poison.

On a completely different scent angle, my changing feelings about Robert Piguet Bandit charted my course away from beginning perfumista, still clinging to conventional ideas of fragrances as smelling “pretty.”  Bandit horrified me.  I think I must have smelled Bandit ten times over the next two years, and slowly it began to lie, cheat and steal its way into my heart.  Who can resist its bravado, its galbanum-leather like a slap across the face with a wet glove?    I think most of us, as our tastes evolve and our experiences widen, have a Bandit Fragrance — a perfume that disgusts before those very same notes are transformed over time and experience into something delightful, something to be treasured.

But there are still fragrances I cannot imagine loving.  There are fragrances I find so repellent that, while I have learned never to say never when it comes to perfume, it will take a shift of opinion so profound and enormous I have difficulty picturing it.  The moldering mouse corpse smell of Serge Lutens’ Borneo 1834 is one such fragrance.  I’d blame it on the mildew, but I enjoy Etro’s crypt-ic Messe de Minuit, so who knows what the problem is, precisely?   Mugler’s Angel is another must-avoid fragrance, although I admit to having retried it several times, thinking reasonably enough that anything that popular on the mass market can’t be devoid of charm.  Angel makes me gag.  It is like inviting RuPaul to shriek Donna Summer’s greatest hits at top volume directly into one ear for fifteen hours — too much, too long, and waaaaaay too loud.   I think I must have some aversion to chocolate in fragrance, particularly a chocolate/patchouli combo.  Even a hugely popular, gentle choco-patch comfort scent, Yves Rocher’s Cocoon, make my stomach lurch.  The chocolate-rotting fruit horror of Missoni is the scent I’d imagine being used in one of the many unbearable scenes in A Clockwork Orange.

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a giveaway.  I’ll round up a box of various odds and ends, some of which I hate, and mail them to the first person who can guess correctly what scent Diva’s asking for.  In the meantime, what perfumes or themes demonstrate your changing tastes, or increasing tolerances, in fragrance?  What fragrance (or type of fragrance) can you not imagine making peace with?

image of black walnuts: about.com – black walnuts smell pretty terrific, a strange leathery astringent smell; bandit image, collectorsquest.com

100 Comments
Linda B October 13, 2008

Oh geez, I'm so with ya on the chocolate. Love me the real stuff, but please stay out of my perfume. Really, gagging territory. I've tried to even just tolerate Angel from the first week it came out, but even now when I smell it on someone in passing, I have to hide my nose in my shirt. I just can't deal with it.

tia kake October 8, 2008

Diva...while normal teen girls wish for "tickle" she as a sophisticated nose, with a bar-set-high type situation...have you even tried Coco Madomoiselle? start right and start early...4711? or...(no kidding) Caswell Massey Cucumber Cologne. Of course Annick's Air is lovely... Emeraude by Cody, this is a joke as you know. Buy that girl anything that pleases her! Damn your eyes and XOXO from the tia-lurker

BBJ October 7, 2008

Aaaaah, get the kid some Mousson! Just make her spritz right before she leaves for school.

sylvia October 7, 2008

mousson, eh? maybe you could steer her in the direction of melony aquatics that arent so offensive to your nose. this is the style my mom likes too. a couple of her faves: l'eau d'issey, l'eau par kenzo, and ellen tracy inspire. as for me, if my mom had a perfume collection like yours, i'd abscond with my favorites and never tell her where they went! i can't think of anything i used to hate and now love... i guess im slightly starting to warm up to patchouli if its used with a light hand and not in a headshop way, but i certainly wouldnt say i love it!

sybil October 7, 2008

I'm a philistine, and the scents I can't stand, and don't think I'll ever develop a taste for are legion...Messe de Minuit immediately springs to mind as one. I get less church and more mildew. Angel & Chinatown made me want to sandpaper my arm. I'm working on developing a taste for Habanita, w/ great difficulty. My daughters are expressly forbidden to even pick up Pink Sugar and look at the bottle on a Sephora jaunt. And, walnut-wise? I think your kids would probably be ok, but w/ a bump. My ballistics-minded brother did the math (since I have 9 or so trees in the back lot, and similar kid concerns). Apparently they don't fall far enough to develop enough speed to really damage you. And, when one actually did clip one of my house painters the other day (first time anyone's actually been hit), he was startled, but undamaged.

Robin October 6, 2008

Mousson, the horror!!!! What do you do with your black walnuts, anyway? The squirrels eat all of ours, because we're LAZY.

Lee October 6, 2008

What a scent for a child of yours to love! Is this karma for perfume sluts like us? I MUCH prefer Borneo to the hideous MdM, though I sniffed it immediately after reading Debbie's post and was, erm, temporarily put off. And given that I'm an emetophobe (seriously), that temporary was pretty impressive. xxx

Meliscents October 6, 2008

I agree with your feelings about Fall. Down here in "Alabamy" we don't really get a Spring so Fall is our comparable season. I've finally been able to dig out the sweaters & that nip in the air is like sucking pure oxygen. After 98 degree weather with 100% humidity, it's funny how refreshing a high of 80 can be. As far as fragrances & learning to live with them, I was the same with Bandit. It really made me lurch when I first smelled it but now when I dare to wear it, I can't stop sniffing. I compare it to a "dirty, forbidden" love. Another is the original Dior Poison. I tried a dab this weekend & I thought it was beautiful, rich, spicy berries. All jam & currents. YUMMO! The secret with Poison like so many is learning restraint. Others I'll never learn to love and that's too many to list. Thank goodness I have more I love/like/tolerate than hate.

Elle October 6, 2008

Hadn't thought about the implications of someone else in my house wearing a scent I can't stand. Once again, thank heavens DH doesn't wear scent and canine child only wears what rubs off of me onto him. That Hermes would definitely scare me. We have hickory nuts raining down on our house like missiles - the squirrels delight in shaking them off of the highest branches and scaring the heck out of me when they crash onto our roof. I'm afraid that one day they'll break the skylights above our bed. :-( I *love* the taste of black walnut flavoring. Often mix it into my yogurt. It took me *centuries* to appreciate white flower scents other than jasmine and I felt a great sense of triumph when I could finally enjoy tuberose scents (started out w/ trainer wheels w/ MH NdT). I am not sure I will ever be able to truly appreciate aquatic scents. But I never say never w/ perfume. I see another Elle is posting! :-)

Dusan October 6, 2008

And no, can't say that I've ever experienced a dramatic about-face. No wait, I'm lying! I actually retched at my first sniff of A*Men. But, what was then chocovomit + a heavy dose of sweat and metal has since become a milky/doughy/dry coffee malt goodness :) Lately though, I just can't bring myself to wear it. Loved the 'moldering mouse corpse' description of Bornéo, btw!

Dusan October 6, 2008

Have to agree with Denyse's guess that Klara got it with Miss Dior Chérie, although another one comes to mind - Pink Sugar? Outside of the gourmand musk category, and in the (for you) dangerously gag-inducing melon category, could it be that Diva wants L'Eau d'Issey? Just a wild guess...

hvs October 6, 2008

Hmm. I was going to guess Insolence, but I think I'll say Elle by Givenchy.

carmencanada October 6, 2008

I was kind of with Klara above me on Miss Dior Chérie, 'cause I know you don't loathe Insolence. But I give my tongue to the cat, as the French say when they can't guess something... I've done a recent turnaround on sweet and gourmand as well (Hypnotic Poison comes to mind). I didn't buy the Guerlain SDV -- I balked at the price for a soli-smell, though it's the best vanilla on the market. I like By Killian Love (the meringue one) but price kept me away from it too. I'm a little miffed: gourmand seemed so... easy, somehow, you know? Thought I was above it all. But there you go, one changes. Bandit I took a few tries to love but now I do: I'm perverse that way. And while Angel makes me retch too, I adore Bornéo (that's where we part ways). Another turnaround was aldehydes, which I wore as a teen (go figure), then went off of, before rediscovering them last year. But an actual fragrance I hated and completely changed my mind about? Not yet...

Shelley October 6, 2008

It's kind of hard for me to respond without my own mother's voice in my head, saying something like "Over my dead body" and pulling out a words like "tart" and I do believe "tramp" when she tried to (ahem) rationally explain why I would never, ever own or apply Jovan Musk to my person for as long as I lived under her roof. So I am of course rifling through new releases in my head, trying to see if there's a contemporary musk out. Oooh, a gourmand musk...now wouldn't that just be the cat dragged it in?? >-) >:p You are quite fortunate to have those projectiles in your backyard; send me a bushelful, I've got a couple of recipes I've been wanting to try for years, but couldn't for lack of black walnuts. This time of year is full of promise. It's like shedding a skin. Nature and you are doing all this cleaning up, offering a big display before hunkering in, and you know there's potential for many happy times in cozy hibernation, all is right with the world, it will all start over again in the spring, but now is exploding with exhibtis of current potential and hurrahs. I don't think of it fading, so much, as a big burst of life before pulling back in order to do it all again--albeit never quite the same. Hmm, I seem to @};- :[email protected]

Klara October 6, 2008

Bvlgari Jasmin Noir? Or perhaps Guerlain Insolence? Or maybe Dior Miss Dior Cherie? For me the perfume I cannot wear a all is Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose (sorry ladies:).

Louise October 6, 2008

Wow, I gotta text Diva and find out which scent it is she's wanting sooooo much-what a nice Christmas gift that would be >:) I've always had a (tiny) soft spot for vanillics, and there are days when I must wear LMDV Noire Mexique. I do like the ideas of adding some smoke to it and its cousins, and recommend CBs Bonfire Accord for a great, reasonable alternative to Burning Leaves-it lasts forever, unlike the Demeter. In fact, I recommend a number of his accords-great prices, with Smoky Tobacco leading the pack. I'm still waiting for my nose to grow up enough to appreciate Bandit. I enjoy wee doses of Angel, especially in the body cream. Whether anyone around me is tolerating it when I wear it, I'm not so sure :-j I must be mold-resistant, because I only smell slightly vanillic rich incense in MdM, and a delightful camphor/bitter choco/smooth patch blend in Borneo =:) I don't love chocolate in scent in general, but dab Missoni on at times, though I'd never subject you to it. But oddly, Cocoon simply makes me retch, not to put too fine a point on it :-& Wonder what scents Enigma is drawn to lately :-? Bwah-ha ha...

pyramus October 6, 2008

I'm not going to guess what Diva wants (and will not get), but I have to agree with you that Demeter Egg Nog is ridiculously enjoyable for the price. It's an improved version of Comptoir Sud Pacifique's failed (though not terrible) Vanille Cannelle, and though simple, it doesn't smell cheap (unless of course you hate vanilla scents, in which case all bets are off). Have you tried Sticky Toffee Pudding? Oh so so so good.

Kim October 6, 2008

for me, the oppostie! Borneo 1834 :x and Messe de Minuit b-( scent twins we are not!! my recent reversal was L'Heure Bleue - hated it the first time (edt and dry winter conditions), now it's in my top 5. The switch for me was wearing it in parfum strength and in hot, humid conditions - it just bloomed and was amazing on my skin. I am definitely convinced that climate (maybe mostly humidity?) can affect the perfume on my skin. Was Diva asking for the new Chanel No. 5 Eau Premiere? I seem to remember there is no love lost between you and No. 5?

Catherine October 6, 2008

How about Givenchy Absolutely Irresistible? Only because a friend heroically wafted Very Irresistible under my nose recently, and I politely resisted hurling. Oh--and doesn't it have some fruit in it? Now that I've somehow fallen under the spell of Guerlain vanillin, my hatred of vanilla has passed--although I doubt I will try SDV anytime soon. (It made me think I touched something bad at BBW.) And I've found myself coming under the sway of FM Une Rose *finally* (although wearing a cardigan wafting 3-day drydown was a bit much tonight--I think I only like "fresh" wine dregs under my nose). Still, even given those turnarounds, I'm unsure I will ever understand Andy Tauer's scents, for instance--they fall apart badly under my nose, so I must not be able to smell something important. In truth, I think that's the issue most of the time--I'm simply incapable of smelling certain things.

Elle October 6, 2008

Just another guess: Oilily Blue Sparkle? Sounds a little too fruity for my tastes, but it is geared at younger teens.

Debbie October 6, 2008

I can tell you the problem with Borneo. It smells exactly like some vomit I encountered at some point in my life; maybe you've had the same unpleasant experience but didn't file it under "V" like I did. Bad, bad stuff. I can't imagine making peace with that one. Things that reflect changing tastes? I haven't been doing this long enough....

Flora October 6, 2008

Ok, I was going to say Guerlain Insolence or its latest flanker, or Lancome Magnifique, but they have been "taken" so: maybe Miss Boucheron? Or Chanel Chance? But you have probably tried all of those already, I would think....I can't keep up with all the flankers and newbies from all the older houses that are trying to capture the youth market!

tmp00 October 6, 2008

Lancome Magnifique?

Bryan October 6, 2008

March, I have to agree. I hate something one day, tolerate it the next, then find I can't live without it. However, there are some that just will never end up in my collection, or on my neck unless something profound happens...What? I have no idea. I would also guess Guerlain Insolence, but I thought you liked it...hmmmm.....something like Dior Midnight Poison (because it will never be one of the other flankers you (and I) love? Or Lancome Magnifique (boring not horrid). Estee Sensuous...I gotta say, I'm stumped.

divinemama October 6, 2008

Hermes Jardin Apres la Mousson was my guess also. '~) We had black walnuts in my backyard when I was growing up also. Yep, lethal weapons.

kathleen October 6, 2008

Might her fragrant choice be Hermes Jardin Apres la Mousson? For me I'm enjoying vanillas. In the past I couldn't scrub them off quick enough. Then there is Chinatown. I spritzed and scrubbed. I hated it. But I kept hearing how people loved it, so I spritzed, and scrubbed once again. Sometime later I thought, what are they smelling? So I spritzed, then went out and bought a bottle.

violetnoir October 6, 2008

Just a guess, but is it Guerlain Insolence, March? Hugs!

Elle October 6, 2008

Perhaps it is Fresh's Strawberry Flowers? Marc Jacob's Fig Splash? Yves Rocher Tendre Jasmin?