At no other time of the year are we assaulted by suggestions of the scents we should like than now. It begins in autumn when advertisements for everything from air fresheners to candles to lattes push the scents of apple, cinnamon and pumpkin spice. Now that the holidays are here, it’s switched over to gingerbread, candy canes and bayberry. These are, we are told, the scents of the season.
“Odors have an altogether peculiar force, in affecting us through association; a force differing essentially from that of objects addressing the touch, the taste, the sight or the hearing.” –Edgar Allan Poe
I’m a problem child, though, and I don’t particularly care for any of those scents. Except bayberry. That’s not too bad. Mostly, though, I’m that odd person out, prowling the candle section of the store during the holidays for sweet pea, lavender and lilac. Unless you have a Yankee Candle store in your vicinity (we don’t), those scents are pretty thin on the ground this time of year. That’s why I hoard them like a miser so I don’t run out when the weather turns cold and they disappear from the shelves.
It’s not just the air-freshening thing this time of year, though. The closer we get to the holidays the more frantic the purveyors of perfume and cologne get with their advertising. The thing is, it’s hard to buy perfume for someone else, right? Scent is such a subjective thing, and unless you ask, it’s impossible to give perfume or cologne as a gift and have the recipient like it, much less wear it.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever had bottles of perfume and/or cologne given to you that end up gathering dust in a cabinet.
But the perfume companies know what they’re about. Men see Charlize Theron slinking around in a semi-transparent dress and think, “I’m gonna get Martha a bottle of that perfume for Christmas.” (Women see those same commercials and wonder why Charlize always destroys her necklace, but I digress.) By the same token, ladies see that crotch shot when David Gandy pulls himself out of the lake into that boat, and decide ol’ Fred needs a new bottle of cologne.
The print ads for these products try just as hard. For example, a major department store included a slick, shiny mini-catalog into today’s newspaper that showcases their perfumes and colognes. The problem is that none of the text makes any more sense than Charlize Theron destroying jewelry. Here’s what we have:
A perfume that “spins an addictive web of glamour and decadence at the center of her golden world.” A fragrance “with a unique blend of intriguing tension.” One that “conveys a woman’s radiant femininity.” Here’s another one that “celebrates the most refined and gracefully seducing facet of femininity.” Oh, and here’s a perfume that purports to include the scent of “rain-tipped damask.”
Guys, they haven’t forgotten you. How about a cologne “for the modern man who is defined by his own expectations”? Here’s one “for the man with 1,000 lives to live.” This one claims to be a “wave of aromatic freshness that conveys strength and dynamic energy,” and this one over here is for “the charismatic and sensual man” with “depth, modernity and just the right amount of mysteriousness.”
Yes, but what do they smell like?
Some attempt to describe the scent. Bergamot. Amber. Tuscan iris. Pink pepper. I don’t know about you, but none of those things help me a bit. Isn’t amber resin? What does resin smell like?
My husband buys Estee Lauder’s Beautiful for me. I’ve no objections because I like it, but he must really like it because he’s bought it for me since we’ve been married despite my buying different fragrances for myself throughout the years. The company’s website gives a dizzying list of scents included in Beautiful: Rose, Mandarin, Lily, Tuberose, Marigold, Orange Flower, Muguet, Jasmine, Ylang-Ylang, Sandalwood, Vetiver, Amber. Whew! All I know is that I like the way it smells. When I buy perfume for myself, that’s the criteria I use, whether or not I like the scent. Top notes, middle notes, etc.? I don’t care what they are as long as the end result is something I like.
His chest pressed against her shoulder as he drew in a deep breath. “What’s that scent you’re wearing?”
Lost in the heady sensation of having his lips so close to her neck, Rhett almost replied ‘chocolate and Bacardi’ since the scent she wanted to wear was his. Besides, he had her in such a stew that for a moment she couldn’t remember the perfume she’d worn for over twenty years. In her mind’s eye she could see the bottle on her dresser and the tube of matching lotion right next to it. What the hell was it called?
“Beautiful,” she said as the name popped into her head. “It’s called Beautiful.”
“Very apt,” Rhys murmured. “But I don’t think it’s the perfume I find so appealing. I think it’s just you.”
–Excerpt from “Sister Golden Hair.”
My husband isn’t a big wearer of fragrance, but he does apply it when we go out. When we met, he wore Aramis. We both liked it until the day our toddler daughter found the bottle and upended it on his recliner. Since our entire house was immediately permeated with the strong scent of Aramis (and remained that way for a long, long time), it isn’t strange that we grew to hate it. I then introduced him to Polo, but after a number of years I got tired of that scent. So last year I took him shopping for new cologne, and together we decided on John Varvatos. I swear, if my husband only knew how much I love the way that smells, he’d wear it all the time. The company describes it as “A bold, modern and sophisticated scent with a refined, masculine intrigue.” Whatever. All I know is that it smells divine!
What’s your favorite scent? Do you have a “signature” fragrance you wear, or do you mix it up depending on your mood? And what in the heck does resin smell like?
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