There is Candy at the end of this post. But first there is Trouble.
On Saturday I smelled trouble. In our house I often smell trouble rather than hear it, because trouble is preternaturally quiet; in fact, the absence of the usual level of screaming is a good sign in itself that trouble is on the hoof.
I figured out the nature of Saturday’s trouble well before I entered the twins’ bedroom. A visual inspection confirmed the worst: they’d located a long-forgotten economy-sized tube of petroleum-based diaper rash salve, which they’d managed to squeeze and smear over various parts of the room and themselves. Two baby-shampoos of the girl-child’s hair failed to put a dent in the gunk, which is why I’ve been shampooing her long tresses in the backyard three times a day with Dawn dishwashing liquid while she stands there naked. Her hair is extremely well-conditioned right now. I am assuming the room will eventually absorb all the salve I couldn’t remove.
The twins are almost four, and they are Trouble. The boy-child of the pair (let’s call him Buckethead, which is, in fact, what we call him, among other things) generally confines his trouble to more limited collateral damage, content to hurl Barney videocassettes into the empty fireplace until they break, or toss his used cereal bowl into our farmhouse sink for the satisfying sound of crockery shattering.
The girl-child (let’s call her Hecate) is more of a visionary. She prefers her trouble Installation-Style — the sort of Trouble that takes creativity, planning, and effort to execute, and leaves a lasting impression, like Christo and his miles of fabric. She was the force behind the Sharpie Fiasco, Water Damage On The Ceiling (I and II), and the Toothpaste Debacle. She hears the siren call of Trouble and answers, which is why visitors to our house can’t lay their hands easily on staples like pens, liquid soap, scissors, tape, and (for awhile) toilet paper.
Their two greatest Trouble Achievements are easily recollected — indeed, I will probably never forget them. The first was the nap-time installation of Poopfest (they were still in diapers,) the horrifying details of which I will leave to your imagination. The second was another nap-time installation I will call Rash-Salve I, which involved an industrial-size tub of Balmex, a jumbo bottle of baby powder, and every reachable surface in their room and on their persons. I was so stunned by the sheer magnitude of the mess that I beat a hasty retreat and called my sister-in-law to talk me down before I Went Back In. That marked the official end of naptime.
I have two older girls, who at the twins’ age were the sort of friendly, compliant children who allowed me to sneer at folks whose kids were pitching tantrums in Wal-Mart or being escorted around on leashes, which I viewed as borderline child abuse. The Twins and their Trouble have given me the gift of a complete re-evaluation of my assumptions about parenting, along with a higher degree of tolerance for chaos, plans gone awry, and human foibles. It has taken me almost 40 years to relinquish my control-freak persona and accept the bumper-sticker truism that Shit Happens, in my house on a daily basis.
So I am crossing the days off on my calendar until the twins start pre-school in the fall. I have carefully selected a nurturing, stimulating environment staffed by seasoned educators who’ve seen enough rough road to be prepared for Hecate and Buckethead. These women have eyes in the backs of their heads, and the perimeter seems secure, which is more than I can say for our house. In fact, Shit is Happening right now. In the time it’s taken me to write this the twins have dumped all their books on the floor, scribbled on the wall with a contraband crayon (probably smuggled illicitly in a Pull-Up) and tugged all the potty wipes out of the container, just for grins. They are outside, rearranging the landscaping, and I suppose I will get a cup of coffee and go join them.
Now, the Candy:
Dorissima Goldmund — tonka beans, vanilla, iris root, rose, powdery carnation, benzoin, sandalwood, soft musk, balsam notes, Peru balsam, allspice. Ina, I am really trying with this one. I know, everyone is wild for this, and I went back and re-read your post and Marlen’s review on Now Smell This, and all I am thinking is, skin chemistry? It is difficult to believe this is what you and Marlen are raving about as a comfort scent and/or infatuating. I think it’s the combination of iris and tonka (or maybe just the benzoin?) doing something very mercurochrome-ish on me. It is medicinal to the point of smelling like an antibacterial agent, and nothing else. How sad is that?
Divine by Divine. This one is breaking my heart. Notes: peach, coriander, gardenia, Indian tuberose, May rose, oak moss, musk, vanilla, spice. Not a timid fragrance, with the gardenia/tuberose sillage ranking somewhere between Fracas and Carnal Flower. The peach is there but not overt, and there’s a wicked sashay of animalic skank running around naked in the middle, although it gets dressed and leaves during the drydown. With those top notes you’d think it would be insanely cloying, but that oakmoss base holds it together. Ina, I Kneel At Your Feet. Logic says this white-floral bomb should fall outside my general parameters of adoration, but adore it I must. You know what I want to layer this with? DK Wenge. Or Montale Jasmin Full. Do you think my arm would run off, looking for a more exciting life? Only complaint: on a scale of 1 to 10 in the Fragrance Olympics, the first five minutes of this are a perfect 10. But then it amps itself down to maybe an 8.5 and I’m disappointed. Which seems so unfair and churlish of me, given the opening; I really need to try this in an atomizer, in cooler weather.
Parfumerie Generale Ilang Ivohibe — Pierre, mon ami, my French is pretty much nonexistent. I am perpetually mixing up words like eau and au. But this is far, far worse. I have to study the label like it’s Sanskrit. But I forgive you and give you, mwah! mwah! the cheeky French kiss, because your fragrances are so unlike anything else I have ever smelled. No, I do not love them all. But I do love Ilang Ivohibe, in spite of its name. Madagascan ylang-ylang, Californian orange and Egyptian jasmine. Here, let me post the translation from www.ausliebezumduft.de: “Parfumerie of generals – Ilang Ivohibe EDT is a florale smell creation with a Zitrusakkord. Romantically, feminine and exotically fruchtig. White blooms form the heart note and with a vanilla note on the basis are softly fitted with springs.” I’m not so sure about the exotic fruchtig, getting mostly zitrusakkord and the strange green clang of ylang, sans the fitted springs. I think the reviews have been meh on this, but I am smitten — it’s not anywhere as sweet as you’d think, given the notes — much greener and denser, and a little peculiar, in a very good PG way.
PG Grand Siecle — this is a classic cologne, and there is nothing unconventional about it, so if that holds no appeal, don’t bother. For those of us who love classic cologne, however — from 4711 to Guerlain du Coq — another option is always welcome. Lovely as it is, for the money (I assume it’s priced the same as the rest of the PG line) I’d pick something else. So far, what I’d pick would probably be Iris Taizo, Ilang, or …
PG Hyperessence Matale. Citrus, jasmine, black Matale tea, cedar leaves, musk, pepper. Everyone else loved the Harmatan Noir, which smells like sweet, soapy hell on me. This, on the other hand, is a glorious woody tea — with the faint smoky-tarry note I love so much in lapsang. The really cool part is that it pings back and forth between that somewhat peppery, very fine-smelling lapsang and something like Dior Cologne Blanche holding a chainsaw. The Matale refers to tea rather than metal, but I’m sorry, I smell what I smell — it has a sharp edge that reminds me in the best possible way of that compelling wet-metal-fence note in En Passant. I get essentially no jasmine, which is fine, because the rest of it is so captivating.
A note here: Having smelled most of the second chapter of PG fragrances, I am joining Patty’s Impressed as All Hell club regarding the Parfumerie Generale line. Even the ones I don’t like are very interesting. In my own personal, eccentric mental filing system I have placed them somewhere between L’Artisan and Serge Lutens. They are richer, more complex, and stronger than L’Artisan (and I mean no disrespect to L’Artisan, which contains some of my favorite scents.) They are not quite so dense as, and less challenging than, Serge Lutens (and I mean no disrespect to SL, either.) To me they combine L’Artisan’s overall accessibility with Serge Lutens’ excellent lasting power, and that is no small feat.
image: Hecate in her favorite hat. Look at her. Isn’t she adorable? Cute as a button! Do you know what she is thinking? She is thinking, tonight I’m going to get up at 3:47 a.m., turn on the overhead light and wake my brother up by singing the ABC song really LOUD until mommy staggers down the hall and tells me to knock it off…