You Watch the Superbowl and I’ll Talk Perfume

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A possible shot for "Perfume Hoarders?"

It’s time to showcase my inner nerd before I head to a Superbowl Party to watch Madonna and socialize because I have no idea who is playing. Actually, I think Tom Brady might be involved, only because I heard rumblings of a sappy email written by Gisele Bundchen. She should stick to looking pretty. So should Tom Brady. I digress. Let’s talk about my perfume fetish.  In order to do it proper justice, I need to give you the back story.

Once upon a time, Lady Sensory was in a committed relationship with Thierry Mugler’s Angel for ten years. Have you ever smelled this stuff? I’m sure you have by now – if not the original, then some wannabe version of it.  It came out in 1992 and I couldn’t get my hands on it until roughly 4-5 years later and bought it unsniffed by mail from New York City. I opened the box and wanted to vomit. It smelled like Christmas on crack – fruit and chocolate and pine (patchouli). I was like, “Seriously, WTF did I just do?” My mother instantly professed a headache from the smell and had to leave the room. What on earth was I going to do with a $95 bottle of stanky perfume in the dead heat of August? Well, I’ll tell you what I did. I wore it…in small doses, which is key for this fragrance, but mainly because I wasn’t sure I could stand to smell myself. A funny thing happened. I got loads of compliments from 95% of the population for about 10 years (we won’t talk about the other 5% couldn’t stand to be in a 10-20 foot radius of me). Not too shabby. It essentially became my signature.  I never had to worry about what perfume to wear and people always knew what to get me.  At ten years, it was the most committed relationship I’d ever had. We had endured quite a bit together: graduations, deaths, weddings, births, and drunk-dials. And then one day it happened: they started selling it locally, my friends started buying it, and then flankers and scents that smelled remarkably like it hit the market. I even had a woman at a craft festival tell me her knockoff oil smelled just like, if not possibly better, than my perfume.  Needless to say, the last two years of my common-law marriage to Angel became difficult. I started smelling the more dissonant notes on other people and not liking it with their chemistry and in turn, started noticing those notes on myself. Basically my perfume was making the rounds with others and I didn’t like it one bit.

I decided Angel and I needed to go on a break. I started researching fragrance and trying before buying. I found sites like LuckyScent and The Perfumed Court where I could order samples of perfume and try scents that hardly anyone else (at least locally) would own. Coincidentally, this occurred around the time that Air Tahiti Nui came out with a brilliant marketing campaign for a flight directly from New York City (I don’t believe they are offering that anymore) and after looking at it decided I would make that my honeymoon destination…you know, for when I eventually found that super-special person that I could tolerate for more than 48 hours at a time.  That year, I also managed to lose my job and go on “Unenjoyment.”  We like to call this period of my life “Pathetic Times.” 2007 wasn’t a pretty time for Lady Sensory. So between dropping resumes, interview appointments, excessive drinking, and ridiculous weight loss from consumption of little more than a can of Campbell’s, a crusty roll and a yogurt, I managed to connect with a few people on a little forum called, MakeupAlley.  The MakeupAlley ladies were willing to swap perfume samples with me, and some very generously, in order for me to try fragrances without putting a huge dent in the Unenjoyment check.

MakeupAlley also provided light socialization with people who shared a common interest but didn’t really know me intimately or know of my Pathetic Times. I mean I was, for lack of better description, thoroughly depressed, discouraged, running out of Unenjoyment and cutting into my savings. This was also the period in my life where my relationship with my father, Crazy Bob, officially went to hell in a handbag. I didn’t know what my next move would be, but I made a list of several things I wanted to accomplish once I got my act together:

1) I would buy all the perfumes that I tried and loved while on Unenjoyment and eliminate the olfactory memories of the bad years and 20-somethings I over-sniffed at job fairs.

2) I would stop drinking cheap wine and buy quality kitchen items to make better meals for myself since the perfume exploration and years of kitchen experimentation had enhanced my palate and olfactory senses.

3) I would finally get my passport and go wherever I wanted, Tahiti being at the top of the list.

4) I would get on with my life and stop being miserable.

5) I would write a book about all of it, even if it manifests as a work of fiction and not a memoir. Considering my snarky sense of humor, a work of fiction is probably the safer bet.

So fast-forward five years later, and four out of five are checked off. There is a secret sixth item on the list but I refuse to talk about dating and men in this post. This is not Sex and the City. This is about empowerment and getting your sh*t together when you’re down and out.

I’m going to give you just a hint of Tahiti today. Here’s a shot of the market in Papeete (the capital), where you can buy everything from coconut water (a cold young coconut with a straw), shell necklaces, pareos, pearls, tapa (Tahitian art on a special cloth made of bark) and monoi oil:

Market in Papeete, Tahiti

Since I visited six of the Society Islands of French Polynesia, it wouldn’t be fair to sum that trip up in a post about perfume. What I will tell you is that there are several perfumes on the market that claim to smell like Tahiti or Hawaii and while these fragrances offer hints and smell quite nice, they don’t really do it justice. I’m not even sure Tahiti has a specific smell, but I believe what they are trying to accomplish is an attempt at bottling a set of incomparable experiences: a tiare lei, the vanilla plantations, the greenery, the beach, etc.  I have many scents that remind me of this magical place. My breakup with Angel brought me to the land of clean, tropical white flower scents. No more stanky chocolate fruit-chouli for me. Don’t ask me to disclose what I wear now because if I start smelling my stuff on you it will totally ruin it for me.  I think the most authentic way one can experience Tahiti-in-a-bottle is to purchase monoi oil (tiare macerated in coconut oil), in original (tiare) and if you like sweet, get some vanilla-scented monoi. You can order the real stuff I found at the market in Tahiti here: http://www.monoi.com/oil.html.

Now, slap that on after you shower and look at how glowy your skin looks. Inhale deeply, make a list of your own, and call it a day.

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