March the Maleficent decrees… Today let’s talk about perfumista etiquette. By this, I do not mean “perfume etiquette” – e.g., whether it’s polite to offgas Dior Poison at the opera, although frankly I find people slowly unwrapping cough drops and hard candies far more annoying in that situation (crinkle crinkle criiinklle). No, I’m talking about the myriad ways we irritate and misunderstand each other while we swap a perfume sample or perfume decant, share, sniff and chat with fellow perfume fanatics, many (most?) of whom we might not know personally.
While Miss Manners has views about which times and places are inappropriate for strong perfume, let’s face it: there is no “Code of Perfumista Etiquette and Ethics” written down that I’m aware of, and my guess is that opinions about acceptable behavior in this area may vary widely. I thought it would be fun to tackle this topic; I’ll share a couple of my own stories, with names deleted to spare the innocent and guilty (except myself.)
As always, I’m up for some lively debate and disagreement – let’s just keep things reasonably polite and no personal attacks or flaming, okay? So go on – share your Etiquette Rules and stories in comments.
1. You can ask, but you can’t beg. Quite some time ago, Blogger X wrote about a rare vintage Guerlain, one I was dying to try and one that wasn’t available as a perfume sample from anywhere else. I knew she had a very small vial of the stuff, and I … well, I begged her for a taste. I begged shamelessly. I begged and pleaded and harangued – just a drop, please. Just one tiny drop. And she was nice and sent me some and I raved about it on the Posse.
This was terrible behavior, and I’m still ashamed of myself. I found out later that the lovely woman who’d sent Blogger X the perfume sample – a very private woman with a very extensive vintage perfume collection – was understandably, completely pissed at me about this (she restocked Blogger X, if I recall correctly.) I pretty much burned a potential bridge with this other party before we really had a chance to get to know each other, although she forgave me eventually.
I will add that, now that you can get about any perfume sample or perfume decant from Surrender to Chance and several other split/swap/sale forums that didn’t exist until fairly recently, I’ve been on the receiving end occasionally of this begging, and it irritates me. If you can buy a perfume sample of vintage Mitsouko fairly easily, then no, unless we’re already swapping something, don’t hound me for some of mine.
2. If you’re going to swap, then swap already. I put a niche bottle up for swap – and there were two people who wanted it, A and B, neither of whom I knew. Since A had asked first I honored that swap, although I felt bad about B, who had a sample of the scent and really, really wanted more. Then things got complicated and I ended up buying A’s side of the swap – the bottle I was supposed to receive – at a substantial discount on eBay, and A was supposed to reimburse me for my eBay purchase. Are you with me so far?
Anyway, then A never paid. Weeks went by; I’d sent my bottle off promptly in the mail. A said the check wasn’t quite in the mail, very busy, blah blah blah. Finally after several email exchanges I said, look, I’m not going to ask again, because nagging you makes me feel cheap and petty. But I’m busy too, okay? You got a great deal – I swapped you something that was worth far more than what I paid for this eBay bottle, and you can’t even send me the money? Eventually I got the money, but it left a bad taste in my mouth – so much so that (check this) I got B’s address, called up the perfume manufacturer, and bought B a sample of the same scent, because in my own weird way I was trying to make the whole thing feel good in my head. I didn’t want negative scent associations clinging to it. B was happy, and I was happy.
I know variations of this have happened to other people. It’s at least partly about aligning expectations in terms of shipping time. But in general, if you’re swapping, the other party expects to complete the swap quickly. If there’s going to be a delay – your bottle of Secretions Magnifique is at your summer home in the Adirondacks, and you won’t be able to send it until July – well, then, you need to say that up front.
More grist for the mill:
Swaps: What do you do if the post office damages the package? If the swap simply disappears? If there seems to be something “off” about what you received? What if money changes hands, or doesn’t? Does it bother you if the package you send is beautifully wrapped and includes extra freebies, and in exchange you get one of my packages, which look like they were wrapped by a three-year-old on a sugar high? I think it was Patty who mocked me once: woman, do you ever buy any supplies? (Yes, vials and packing tape.)
Or: what if a family member or your BFF starts wearing “your” Holy Grail scent, does that bother you? (Louise suggested this topic.) Or, conversely, what if your BFF disses your holy grail? I get some of this blowback indirectly – if I blog about something I don’t like on the Posse, sometimes people get … upset. And my response is: who cares what I like, anyway? Please don’t take it personally. I wear all sorts of crap perfume, I’m not the arbiter of great taste. If I rag on Angel or that Jane Birkin thing, remind yourself that I like D&G Light Blue.
Or: splits – who hosts them? Does it drive you nuts when others suggest a split but never offer to host? What if they don’t pay up their share promptly? What if it’s vintage and the bottle turns out to be bad, has anyone stiffed you? Or backed out for another reason? Did you hunt them down and spray them with Pink Sugar?
Have you ever found out you were battling someone you knew for a bottle on eBay? And you lost? (snerk. Yeah, me too.)
Have at it. Anything else you want to discuss or solicit opinions about? Again, let’s keep it marginally polite.
Image – my Google “safe search” is off. I googled “mud wrestling” and “wrestling cartoon” and like that. Images … hoo, you don’t even want to know. I had to go bleach my eyeballs; hence, no image for today’s post.