I’m baaaaaack! I have now had the sort of rigorous training that would allow me to win a medal in house-packing Olympics, earning higher marks for the Degree of Difficulty in executing packing maneuvers with two preschoolers (not mine) and a standard poodle underfoot, and hay fever. There was much work and a fair amount of drinking, as we toasted each other, and the house, and test-tasted various bottles of liquor to decide whether they should be discarded. We did a lot of Making Merry, and at some point I took a long walk in the early evening, so I could have a little private cry and say goodbye to that particular chapter of my life. I am happy to be home.
This post is only tangentially — and eventually — about fragrance. If you´re not interested, feel free to skip it.
In what seems like several lifetimes ago, I did investor relations for a NYSE-traded firm. I was surrounded by high-testosterone Land Sharks of the Young Turk variety. I could bring in things like leftover canapàƒ©s and Halloween candy and they´d all be circling around eating at 8:10 a.m. Their agendas were simple: money, sex, food and play, not necessarily in that order.
At some point I had some medical tests done and was stunned to learn that my testosterone levels, while nothing that would impress a Land Shark, were indecently high for a woman. I did some research and discovered a study that revealed that women who worked in mostly-male environments frequently had very high T-levels. One explanation for that fact would be that women with high T-levels would be attracted to the sort of high-risk work environments that males occupied, but this argument was punctured by the fact that women in administrative support roles in those places, who were presumably doing nothing more high-risk than answering the telephone or filing documents, also tended to have elevated T-levels. It seemed that mostly-male work environments brought everyone´s T-levels up.
Now I live in an estrogen-rich, girl-centric household, and I wonder if my T-levels have fallen. Of course, The Big Cheese and Number One Son provide enough surplus testosterone to propel a small country toward civil war. Anyway, I pondered my T-levels recently as I paused in the mall to admire the topless male models on photographic display outside Abercrombie & Fitch (see photo at top). As I gazed at the point where their perfectly honed abdominal muscles disappeared into the tops of their very low-slung jeans, I believe my face conveyed the focused alertness of a horny 16-year-old. Then, embarrassed to be staring at photos of men who are, technically, young enough to be my sons, I shook my head and went back to surveying the mall around me.
And what I find that concerns me, when I turn my gaze from male models and perfume, is the way our culture is priming its young (and ever-younger) girls to be objects of sexual attention. I noted that Claire´s, which used to be a place for the tween girl set, has sprouted an offshoot called Icing, and the tweens are being redirected there. The original Claire´s is now being repositioned to aim its wares toward girls who are recently out of diapers and looking for some bling, with entire walls given over to princess tiaras, nylon fairy wings, glitter sunglasses and tiny purses that say things like High Maintenance.
There is also a store called Club Libby Lu, which is a birthday party destination for the preschool girl set. Girls at these events are made up and dressed up in the sort of outfits that would qualify them for backup dancers in a Britney Spears video à¢â‚¬” pudgy baby bellies hanging out of sequined tube tops over their low-cut dance pants, blue eyeshadow, and the sort of accessories I associate with pole dancers.
I find the whole Libby Lu thing disconcerting. I am not alone; the local paper featured an article full of parents´ mixed feelings. I wonder if my youngest daughter will ever be invited to a birthday party at Libby Lu, and if so, will I let her go? I am, I guess, more a Build-A-Bear birthday party type of mom, and Libby Lu makes my skin crawl. (Actually, what I am is a squirt-guns-in-the-backyard kind of mom.)
I don´t suppose my testosterone has fallen too low, however, because I found myself pondering sexy fragrances the other day, stuck in traffic on the Beltway (I guess we are now giving LA a run for its money in the Nation´s Worst Traffic Sweepstakes.) I was mentally diagramming the relationship among my Big Three Sexy fragrances, the three that seem to have a direct line to the Land Shark part of my brain. This is what I came up with (***WARNING: INAPPROPRIATE MATERIAL!!!):
Guerlain’s Jicky Parfum is like a woman taking off her couture silk ball gown to reveal à¢â‚¬¦ she´s wearing leather panties.
Malle´s Musc Ravageur oil is like a woman taking off her severe white linen sheath dress to reveal à¢â‚¬¦ she´s wearing no panties.
Desprez Bal a Versailles EDP is like a woman taking off her couture organza ball gown to reveal à¢â‚¬¦ she´s really a man.
photos: torsos, abercrombie.com; tiara, claires.com; Club Libby Lu participants, washingtonpost.com