New scence of scent.

May 5th, 2010

On the west side of the Wyatt, the distant sound of traffic on the 405 eleven floors below is what I hear before falling asleep at home in Portland.

Growing up I contently drifted off to sleep with a hardworking window unit in the tropics, Perry Mason episodes on the black and white TV in Palo Alto, or (in all our homes) the glamorous, musical, inviting tone of cocktail parties.

Children went to bed a lot earlier in those days and as the youngest in our small clan, I was the first to retire.

The household was well established when I came on the scene; no one tiptoed around or whispered after I closed my eyes.  The noises of a household still buzzing were comforting.  The nights my parents entertained (which were frequent) were especially magical.  JR smoked the occasional cigar and laughed easily.  My mother’s perfect hostess duties included  breezing through my bedroom for a goodnight kiss,  the absolute  vision of elegance  dressed in a black cocktail dress.  The image was rounded out with the finishing scent combination of Shalimar, cigarettes and bourbon.

Those were the nights Pops didn’t sit near my bed, singing to me until my eyelids got heavy but all was still right with my world.  When music was in our routine, his hit singles were “You Are My Sunshine” and “Red River Valley.”  Outside bedtime rituals, his quiet, partial participation in songs during Sunday mass regularly had me swallowing fits of giggles.

Today I arrived at the perfume counter of Saks Fifth Avenue.  My bottle of Channel No. 5 was in need of a refill.

I’ve worn Channel No. 5 since JR (my dad) and I bought my first bottle at Joskie’s in Houston.  I was 11 years old. There have been others during the past 40 years but there was always Channel No. 5, even when JR returned from overseas trips with  Chanel No. 19 for me  and when Clay gave me Coco Chanel.   There were also the gifts of White Shoulders (very New Orleans), Halston, Pheromone, Lauren, Youth Dew (heavy, despite its name), Opium, Dior… the other names will come to me. Most you’ll remember.

Back to Saks.  Two perfume consultants, a fellow shopper and I connected instantly over the topic of scents.  We could have talked and reminisced about perfumes until the store closed (enthusiastically, I would add).   One of the Saks consultants was a walking dictionary of all bottled scents.

I shared with them my impulse to add “a new fragrance to differentiate this new period in my journey” or to  at least add a dimension, a layer.

We arrived at a fairly swift committee decision.  Safe to say we were a complimentary mixture of classic appreciating old souls and young rebels bonded for an instant in  sisterhood.  I was predisposed to be decisive.  Too many choices are simply too many, plus I was asking for coffee beans (and Saks had them) to sniff after inhaling just the first two sample sprays. (If I may add at this point I overlooked an important step in the process of selecting a new fragrance: trying the final fragrance candidates on your own skin.  The store consultants spray the scents on a sample card that looks like a slightly porous business card).  A fragrance takes on different nuances, paper to woman and woman to woman.

What smells like roses on you might not be so nice on your best friend.

And if I might leave you with the most critical of reminders when it comes to fragrance… don’t marinate in it!

We’ve all experienced someone’s presence from blocks away.  We have gasped for fresh air in an exercise class, on a crowded plane and not infrequently pulled the covers over our heads after an overwhelming dose of fragrance has triggered a migraine.

A scent should be a whisper, something that draws a person closer to you to communicate, to take in your essence.


7 Responses to “New scence of scent.”

  • Alan Flashing Says:

    From this mans point of view on scents, like Trix said do not over do it. You do not wish to fill the room with the scent , I have always heard that you should not smell the perfume on a woman till you are within 3 feet or so… it is an intimate experience the scent of another person ,not a broadcast.

  • Deborah Bright Says:

    Have you ever considered natural botanical oils as a source of scent? Jared Tyler is a gifted aromatherapist and he will make a unique scent for you from a mixture of the purest oils available in the world.

  • Elie Says:

    If you can’t smell the fragrance
    Don’t come into the garden of Love.
    If you’re unwilling to undress
    Don’t enter into the stream of Truth.
    Stay where you are.
    Don’t come our way.
    - Rumi

  • Michelle Says:

    It thrills me to know you carry fond remembrances of your Pops singing to you. Our nighttime ritual after reading books and before slumber is I MUST sing “Dream a Little Dream of Me” to both the 4 & 6 year old. Though they share a room and are stacked in bunk beds they want Mommy to sing it “just to me, Mommy!”. Since I started singing the song to them while both were still in utero I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. :-) “So in your dreams whatever they be…”

  • Mature Dating Says:

    Great blog so much interesting information here

  • Norman Pienta Says:

    Considerably, this post is really the sweetest on this notable topic. I harmonise with your conclusions and will thirstily look forward to your incoming updates. Saying thanks will not just be sufficient, for the phenomenal clarity in your writing. I will directly grab your rss feed to stay informed of any updates. Admirable work and much success in your business dealings! Please excuse my poor English as it is not my first tongue

  • Trix Says:

    Norman: What type of work do you do with lungcancerstatistiscs?

Leave a Reply