When I was a kid I was called “a fine schmecker”. This was not meant in the insulting manner of, “She’ll never eat at that burger joint she’s too much of a fine schmecker” but more as in, “Close the car windows because if she smells that farm she’s going to throw up.”
As a mom and a wife I am given the honour of discerning whether or not teeth have been brushed well enough or if they need brushing by the smell test. Any one of five people may approach me, breach my personal boundary blow a puff of air from their mouth directly into my nose and ask, “How was that”. I invariably respond with, “I hate when you do that, fine.” or the dreaded “I hate when you do that. Go brush your teeth.”
Now I know that many people hate the smell of perfume. I have worn perfume since I was a about 14. My first perfume was a bottle of Chloe given to me by a friend of our family. Not wearing perfume makes me feel naked. Even during mosquito season when perfume is an invitation to blood letting I cannot go without it.
Perfume can transport me to another place and time as though it were my personal time machine. I wore Halston in late high school and university. I treated myself to a large bottle of it before I went to Israel for 6 months. About the third night on my kibbutz I rolled over in my sleep and my arm knocked the bottle of perfume off the night table (which was precariously close to my head) and it smashed into a million pieces on the terrazzo floor. I didn’t smell of perfume but our room sure did for the whole 6 months. Even now, if I get a whiff of Halston I am instantly back in 1984 Israel with a warm sultry breeze blowing and huge hibiscus flowers bowing over the staircase in front of my room.
I need perfume to protect me from the smells around me. A noxious odour can be avoided by surreptitiously tucking my nose into my familiarly scented scarf.
When in our early 20’s my sister and I decided to go visit our great aunt in her retirement apartment. She was quite infirm and we were unsure of how clean the conditions in her apartment would be. I was becoming queazy just thinking about it. I told my sister that we should each put a drop of perfume right under our noses that way it would mask everything else. We did. We entered the apartment and my sisters immediately started opening windows. I bent over to give my tiny 90 something year old auntie a kiss. She looked at me with her sparkling blue eyes and said, “You smell good!”
My husband knows how picky I am about perfumes. I’ve worn the same one since he first met me. I will change periodically but I always get drawn back to my favourite. So when he travels and he’s looking for that little something to bring me he knows not to make it perfume. He brings me body cream and creamy body washes. Usually he gets it right but lately he’s found a company whose aromas I neither get nor like. The first one was avocado scented. Avocado? Yeah. No thank you, no likey. I quietly put it away in a drawer. The latest is some kind of nut that I had never heard of before. He bought me both a tub of cream and a shower cleanser. O.K. so I don’t like the cream, but I can live with it. It also leaves a residue on the skin. I thought I’d try the shower cream. I put it on and started gagging. Whoa, no no no. Cannot do. I sadly fessed up to my husband. He asked me what it smelled like, I told him that it smells like dust and mould. I then brought it over for him to smell. He sniffed, shrugged, looked at me and said, “I like it, but if you don’t then don’t use it.”
Then I was hit with the most optimistic thought. We’re going to be O.K. when we’re in our nineties. When I smell old, mouldy and decrepit he’ll be happy with it. Woo hoo that part of aging is not so scary any more. I just hope he finds wrinkles and no memory sexy.