As I type this I am reeking of Absorbine Jr., which my equestrienne sister-in-law assures me is in fact horse liniment, repackaged into a dab-on bottle for humans at 50 times the price of the per-gallon stuff you get for the pony. I don’t care. The sultry arms of Patou’s Joy may drive you wild with its embrace, but nothing says I love you to me like the smell of Absorbine Jr. We always had an old stained bottle sitting around the house when I was growing up and, assuming a bone wasn’t poking through the skin, my mother dabbed Absorbine Jr. on whatever bite, burn or scrape I was whining about and sent me on my way with a popsicle, assuring me I’d live. I put it on now just so I can smell it, not because I pulled a tendon in the Belmont Stakes.
Absorbine Jr. smells strongly herbal/medicinal; ingredients include absinthium oil, iodine, calendula, echinacea and wormwood (btw it’s also got acetone and FD&C Blue No. 1 and Yellow No. 6, which I am sure is great for my skin.) I wouldn’t drink it, but it’s good for what ails you. To me it is the quintessential smell of summer. I uncap that bottle and release memories of hot pavement burning the soles of my feet, ripe white peaches dripping down my chin, cold grape soda by the pool (don’t go in for an hour after eating or your stomach will cramp up and you’ll die, remember that?), and setting off the requisite quasi-legal explosives at night, since I grew up in Virginia. The smell of gunpowder and the beauty of fireflies is inextricably entwined in my memory at this point. I wonder if you can still buy M-80s and other things large enough to take off a hand? Probably not.
Weleda Calendula baby cream is also an excellent scent, a less piquant version of Absorbine Jr. that makes me think of Santa Fe in the summer, and anything that makes me think of Santa Fe is good, obviously. I rub it on my hands when I need some moisture and a smile.
Perfume-wise, here is my random, totally subjective short list of fragrances that have been mis-labeled: perfumes that should be room sprays and vice versa.
Fracas. Okay, I admit this smells amazing on lots of people, especially men. (Men reading this: wear it, please. For me and those you love.) I am not a Fracas hater, so don’t flame me. At my house it’s best enjoyed one spritz at a time in the air in my bedroom. Eventually the smell permeates the entire second floor. I am not complaining.
Diptyque Essence of John Galliano. This is a room spray that has not caused any rashes or parts to drop off despite my using it regularly on my skin. One of my all time favorite non-perfume smells, I might like it even better than CB I Hate Perfume Burning Leaves. Why? Because underneath all that Damp Fireplace lurks a heart of something cologne-ish, like a virtual reality Weekend Ministering to the Needs of My Lord the Duke in his Drafty Medieval Castle. I will spare you further details of my fantasy to avoid getting trapped in your spam filter.
Apothia Velvet Rope. I have a couple of friends who love and wear this, but I have the candle and a decant and seriously, I think the whole deal works better as a room spray. Considering it’s inspired by a nightclub, this makes sense.
Serge Lutens Encens et Lavande. Okay, I should probably be shot for writing this, but it makes such a great room spray. I love incense fragrances on my skin, but I don’t want the house to smell like a cathedral. For the record, I don’t like lavender much either except on my linens. But EetL in the hallway? Heaven on earth.
Malle Une Rose. It seems so wrong. And yet. The perfect room spray. Um, one spray, no more.
What room spray or other household/medicinal product do you wear for the smell? (Tiger Balm? Band-Aids?) And what fragrance do you use to scent your surroundings, and not just because you’re stuck with a bottle of something you’re trying to use up?