Black and blue and embarrassed

By Ann

First off, congrats to the winners of the Dahlia Noir samples: dinazad, Madea, Austenfan and Elizabeth C. Drop Musette an e-mail at her gmail addy evilauntieanita  AT

Now that we’re well into the dangerous time of year for ice and snow in the South (much of our worst weather has come January-March), it prompted me to think about mishaps on slick or icy patches.

Even at my best, I have a natural inclination toward clumsiness. Perhaps it’s because I have too much on my mind and I’m not as aware as I should be of my surroundings. That tendency, paired with skin that bruises if you look at it too hard, makes me a prime candidate for a full-length padded body suit, as soon as someone creates one that’s practical.

One of my worst incidents, a few years back, was especially embarrassing. Coming back from the mailbox, I slipped on some icy slush at the edge of the garage, fell down, hit my browbone on my son’s scooter handle and passed out. I wound up with a whopper of a black eye and what I can only call a kaleidoscopic knee:  Each day showed off yet another intense hue on the bruise color wheel. That I covered up with pants, but the eye — well, all I can say is thank goodness for heavy-duty concealer and dark purple eyeshadow (to help make my good eye match my bruised one). It wasn’t foolproof, but it passed muster upon casual observation and helped keep the stares to a minimum. I must have looked like a goofy middle-aged woman in dire need of a makeup lesson. Poor hubby, understandably, was a bit reluctant to go anywhere with me for fear of the dirty looks he was likely to get.

Then last summer, I fell at the beach, slipping down on a rain-slick ramp in the condo parking garage. Didn’t pass out that time, but both my behind and my pride got a good bruising.

Now, you might be thinking, “Good grief! What on earth does her rambling have to do with fragrance?” Well, fear not, I’m getting to it.

A few years ago on one of my annual late spring trips (pre-unemployment, naturally) to my beloved San Francisco, I headed over to the lovely Chanel boutique on Maiden Lane. I walked in the store, so quiet and serene, almost reverential, exuding luxury from every square inch. I headed across the plush ivory carpet, past the to-die-for handbags and down the stairs to the fragrance and cosmetics area, where I could see the glorious glass bottles of the Les Exclusifs on display.

Almost there and  then — whoops! I completely miss the last step and go crashing down on my derriere. This, of course, not only knocks the wind out of me, but also mortifies me beyond belief. I’m praying the earth will open up and swallow me, because almost instantly I’m surrounded by security guards, multiple sales associates and the store manager. Turns out I wasn’t hurt, just shaken up, and I got back on my feet as quickly as I could. I assured them that I was all right and got the crowd to disperse as I limped over to the fragrance counter. There I was most attentively helped and given a good selection of samples. So in the end, my humiliation ended fairly well, save for a few days of bruising and soreness. But I might consider donning a disguise were I to visit again.

Anyhoo, what’s been your most embarrassing moment, perfume-wise?

  • Wordbird says:

    Ooh, ouch! Glad you were OK.
    My embarrassing perfume moment has previously been related on Basenotes, but I’ll cheerfully tell it again as it’s a beaut.

    I used to live in Switzerland and would occasionally take my little daughter (the famous Small) on expeditions to Zurich to smell things in the incredibly posh boutiques on Bahnhofstrasse. Small did this under duress as she would get very bored very quickly, so she had to be bribed to behave. Often with promises of hot chocolate and/or pretzels.

    The Chanel boutique in Zurich is large and utterly fabulous, its walls lined with mirrors. (Can you see where this is leading? Oh yes.)

    I took Small into Chanel because I was desperate to smell Les Exclusifs and in a moment of fragrant inattention, turned my back on Small. Knowing that she wasn’t allowed to touch anything on display on pain of pain, she was dancing in front of the mirror, being very sweet. So sweet that she planted a big very buttery pretzelly kiss on the mirror, leaving a large greasy smudge.

    I gasped in horror, but the charming Chanel ladies laughed gaily and produced a spray of Cif and a cloth and dealt with it in a trice and were delightful about it. But I was mortified! :)

    • Ann says:

      What a great story, Wordbird — you had me grinning from ear to ear! Does Small remember this high-end smooching at all?

  • Olfacta says:

    I fell on my face at the Hard Rock Cafe in London once, in the late 70’s when the place was still cool. Missed the 2 steps into the pit. I was 25, though, and didn’t hurt myself, physically anyway. I have a history of pratfalls worthy of the Three Stooges, one I took just before Christmas this year, stone cold sober, that has me still limping and going to physical therapy.

    Perfume — last year I gave a decant of a Montale Amber to a friend. I hadn’t liked it — too much synthetic oud — but she did, and wore A LOT of it when we went out one night. She smelled like all those things we don’t want to smell like (I won’t digress further, as I know you know). I had to tell her that maybe she should um, use a little less — what I really wanted to say was “pour it down the toilet” but tried to nice it up. She wasn’t happy.

    My own moments, well, there are many, all of them having to do with my love of the skank, over-applying said skank in the daytime, having people wave their hands in front of their faces as I approach, and so on.

  • nozknoz says:

    Oh, just what I needed: a chance to confess my own recent egregious klutziness. I ordered a bottle of Vero Profumo Onda, all the way from First in Fragrance, and when I opened it, the stopper stuck and the whole top of the bottle cracked off, just below the neck. I guess that big flat stopper provides too much leverage for its own good. These days most stoppers are covered in plastic, so I wasn’t attuned to attention to the possibility of its being seriously stuck, but this one has a band of exposed glass (why? why?).

    Miraculously, I was able to hold the bottle together with my left hand and keep it from spilling while I ran for my decanting supplies. It now resides in smaller roll-on bottles, which are actually more convenient though much less glamorous. Could have been worse – imagine wall-to-wall carpet and a leather chair soaked with Onda – that stuff is amazingly persistent! :-)

    • Ann says:

      Hi, nozknoz, so sorry to hear of your bottle trouble. I think that’s every perfumista’s nightmare. But at least you were able to salvage the scent. That would’ve been quite a room scent — for quite a long time!

  • Madea says:

    This isn’t so much embarassing as it was weird and rude, but here goes:

    When I was maybe twelve or thirteen, my grandma took me to the nearest city for the day (it’s a smallish city without much to recommend it).

    I developed early, so I probably looked closer to sixteen or seventeen. I was at the Origins counter when a woman in a black makeup counter smock walked past me and thrust something into my hand.

    ‘Here, take this. This is popular with your group.’

    She used the same tone most folks would say ‘serial killers’ in, never breaking stride, like some sort of leathery, smock-clad Santa Claus, trailing perfume and barely disguised disdain.

    It was a perfume sample, I think Candies in the yellow bottle. I remember it was okay, as these things go.

    This woman didn’t work at Origens (different uniform). I hadn’t so much as looked at her. I have no idea what prompted that.

    Of course, now, meaner as well as older, I would’ve been tempted to point out all the different kind of offense I could take from that statement, but at thirteen, I just nodded, intimidated.

    Seriously, who does that?

    • Musette says:

      :-< Those type of comments are really irritating, aren't they? I'm old enough to have run that gauntlet for nearly 40yrs before PC came into vogue. But you know what REALLY chaps my cheese? Nobody EVER swans past, pressing an 11cwt emerald-cut 'D' flawless diamond into my hand, saying what she said to you. Where is the leathery, smock-clad Santa ^:)^ with THAT sample, I ask you? 😕 xo >-)

      • Madea says:

        I’d happily take the remarks and only five carats if a gorgeous fellow were the one swanning…or an 85 year old millionaire, I’m not choosy :)

    • Ann says:

      Sheesh, Madea, that was so odd and off-putting — especially given that you’d no interaction with her at all. Things like that really do leave you scratching your head.
      Musette, I’m wondering where that diamond-carrying Santa is myself. ;)

  • DinaC says:

    I’m a big time bruiser, too, Ann. Not a bruiser, like, Bruno is gonna beat you up, but like, Wimpy McWimp who turns black and blue when she opens the ketchup bottle. :-) So, I really appreciated and sympathized with your anecdotes. I could tell you about the time a car ran into me when I was on a moped on my honeymoon…or the more recent time my daughter brought me down onto the ice while ice skating holding hands, and I got a concussion. Sound like a familiar scenario? My bruising was bad enough that I had bleeding time tests and blood studies done — and I passed out cold in the phlebotomy room. When I came to, they were wheeling in the crash cart while yelling my name! So, you’re in good company.

    I haven’t had any major scent catastrophes yet. Or if I did, then I’m blocking them out. I’ve had people tell me that Chanel Sycomore smells like pot, which I completely disagree with. And I’ve had someone who sat next to me in choir trade places with someone else, so they could get away from my scented-ness. But that’s about the extent of it.

    • Ann says:

      Oh, DinaC, so sorry to hear you’ve been throgh all that. Hope you haven’t had any recurring ill effects from your accidents. And please don’t shoot me, but the one time I tried Sycomore, it did smell that-a-way on me. I hated it, but what can you do? It does smell marvelous on a friend of mine though …

  • Tulip says:

    Ann, just a thought – it’s your shoes’ fault, not your clumsiness. Seriously.

  • Musette says:

    OMG! These are so funny – even the painfully funny ones!

    Okay – here’s mine…and both happened within the space of an hour, in the same space, alas…/:)

    Barneys, of course. Where my ‘image’ was somewhat…tarnished…on this day.

    I go in, toting my large Mulberry Bayswater (14″x12″ or thereabouts) – go over to the Lutens. Set the Mulberry on the counter. The handles flop over onto the bottles and send about 10 of them crashing and skittering across the counter, with me and Lydia frantically trying to grab them before they take themselves down to the marble floor. We are successful.. I am MORTIFIED!

    Finish my biz, we are walking towards the elevators…and there is this gorgeous display: mannequin in a kelly green sheath, stone-colored silk coat…and a Delvaux handbag over the wrist. Oh…did I mention that it’s a Le Labo display, so there are dozens of beakers and bottles and pipettes????

    Did I mention it’s a Delvaux? That’s like catnip to a cat or dognip to a dog….so I lift the handbag for closer inspection, not realizing it’s like a weight on a fulcrum….

    Mannequin goes tipping backwards, beakers go crashing all over the place, pipettes go flying….we’re shrieking, trying to grab as many breakables as we can and get the mannequin back upright….

    oh, the horror…:o

    I wuz Mortified. :”> (stupid display :-w )

    xo >-)

  • maggiecat says:

    I enjoyed these stories especially since I am a naturally clumsy person myself (my latest incident wasd in Whole Foods, where I managed to avid taking down a entire display of wine bottles by gyrations that caused truly spectacular lumps and bruises to my shin. Much fuss ensued since the cause was a hand basket someone else had left on the floor. I still get solicitous calls from their legal people….) My most embarrasing scent story? probably the time I went for my final fitting for me wedding drress. A friend had sent a bottle of a lovely soft rose scent, which I spritzed lightly before leaving the house. At least I thought it was a lovely soft rose scent. It turned into a Godzilla of a ROSE scent in the car on the way over. I went into the bridal shop absolutely reeking of roses, and the poor fitter tried to work with me at arm’s length as much as possible. i felt terrible for her – and for everyone else who didn’t want to feel rosy that day!

    • Ann says:

      Hi, maggiecat, I feel for you, not only on your Whole Foods incident but also the wedding dress fitting. Hope the dress still turned out OK despite the shell-shocked (scent-shocked?) fitter.

  • Marilie says:

    My embarassing moment was when I tested Lyric Woman and made the mistake of thinking that one spray could never bother anyone… Why not wear it to the office? :”>

    Sitting in the train, I noticed that Lyric was really bad on me ( too loud, too strong) but I was confident that nobody else would notice.
    Unfortunately, my colleague (I had a little crush on him) had a very sensitive nose and kept asking who or what smelled so awfully bad. I pretended not to know and smell anything but the next time I went to the restroom I gave Lyric a good washing – Lyric was unimpressed by water and soap and continued to smell like &$*!?@
    I couldn’t do anything else and went back to my desk, carefully avoiding every expansive arm movement. Minutes passed, he didn’t ask. I felt safe and thought that maybe the washing had had an effect and that the scent had lost sillage. Well, not really.
    “I think it comes from the door!” he suddenly burst out. What followed was him walking through the office, sniffing every corner until the scent led him to my desk… :((

    Needless to say that I never wore Lyric again!

    • Ann says:

      Poor Marilie, I can just imagine your horror. Reading your post, I wanted to cry for you, but also couldn’t help smiling (just a little) at the image of this man searching through the office like a bloodhound sniffing out the source of that scent.
      BTW, whatever happened with the situation? Did he ever ask you out? And was all eventually forgiven and forgotten?

      • Marilie says:

        Thank you, Ann. Looking back, I cannot but smile at the situation as well. He kindly asked me to use less perfume next time but I think he was also a little pleased to see me wearing perfume – he never noticed my office-friendly scents and once told me that he likes it when women wear perfume (this was of course a big plus for him!). Eventually it’s all forgiven and forgotten :)

        • (Ms.)Christian says:


          That reminds me of an office where I was consulting some years ago-3 female chiros shared an office. One ‘supposedly’ was DEATHLY allergic to perfume. I sort of raised my eyebrows (mentally) to that, but never wore anything scented when I was there. She came in one morning and within a few minutes of being there, claimed she had a raging migraine that had her in tears because someone was wearing perfume. *rolls eyes*

          Everyone claimed to be innocent of the crime and scent free but she would not leave it alone and went around closely SMELLING every single person in the office. It was kind of disgusting and disturbing.

          She got to the office I was using, walked in and stuck her nose in my scalp and took a big sniff. I’m an obnoxious old lesbian so I turned and put my arms around her neck and said, “I don’t usually go this far on a first date.” I think she forgot about her ‘raging migraine’ as she rocketed backwards out of my office.
          In the remaining few weeks I was consulting there (always scent free), I never heard anything about perfume or headaches again.

          • Marilie says:

            Haha, that’s great! Wonder why people don’t notice that they’re rude. I mean, she sniffed at your head! How weird is this? :-?

  • Francesca says:

    I don’t think I’ve had any embarrassing scent moments, but I nearly choked reading (Ms) Christian’s and Joanna’s. Very funny.

    • Ann says:

      I agree, funny now but very “ouch!” at the time. It’s good we can look back on things like this with humor.

  • Joanna says:

    Before meeting a boyfriend’s mother I slathered myself in Bath and Body Shop’s Vanilla Body Cream, (College years, early 90’s.) When we walked into her home his mom kept sqawking, “Who smells like marijuana? I smell pot! Oh my God Stuart why do you keep dating these little potheads?” I have no idea how she was reading marijuana from vanilla, (Stuart thought I smelled like a cookie.) His mom looked and sounded exactly like Mike Myer’s character Linda Richman, (Coffee Talk) from SNL. I wasn’t a pothead and I never wore anything vanilla around her again but she always referred to me as “That little pothead” for the remainder of my relationship with her son.

    • Ann says:

      Oh, good heavens, Joanna! Talk about a case of mistaken smells. And to make matters worse, it was nearly criminal that she kept calling you that even after she knew you.

      • Joanna says:

        Thanks Ann. I do have this little voice in the back of my head whenever I wear a vanilla scent now that asks, “Does this smell like pot?”

  • (Ms.)Christian says:

    Meant to end it with, I never WORE Poison again. See, the memory still upsets me!!!

    • Ann says:

      Oh, no — bless your heart! I was reading your post and cringing right along with you. So sorry this happened to you. As much as that scent upsets you,I think you’re brave to even write about it and share with us.

    • jen says:

      I may have been one of those people! I gagged at Poison when it came out. I dont mind it now, for some reason…

      • Ann says:

        I understand that, Jen. Too many people were just spraying it with abandon. Maybe time (far fewer folks wear it now) and our more experienced noses have made the difference.

  • (Ms.)Christian says:

    Most embarrassing-back in 1988, at a new job, I dabbed Dior Poison on the day of the office Christmas party. I had a sample and had never smelled it or worn it before.


    It was the kind of avoidance where they move away quickly then look over their shoulder to make sure you are not pursuing them.

    A kind, older secretary who had worked there for over 20 years asked me in a whisper what scent I had on. When I told her, she kindly suggested I get as many alcohol wipes as I could, go to the restroom and scrub all spots where I had dabbed. I did, but I remained highly odiferous. And unpopular.

    I never work Poison again.

  • pam says:

    Hi, Ann!
    Thanks for sharing the stories, and my condolences on the bruises. The perfume tale is a good(?) one, and I cannot for the life of me think of a comparable one. But then, I am never around any luxury boutiques. If I ever have that opportunity, I will keep this in mind and watch carefully for steps.

    • Ann says:

      Hi, Pam! Thanks for your sweet note. Yes, do be especially careful, as it’s bad enough to fall in Wal-mart or K-mart, but it’s just rock-bottom awful to go tail over tin cup, as they say, somewhere very high-class and ritzy, ha!!