In the wake of a Neptunian weirding episode, my daughter and I were meandering around a department store in the city and met Gary the Aries fragrance freak. Mature, witty, and perfume-erudite, he was manning the legacy/classic scents counter.
As hyper-opinionated as any Aries, he regaled us with fantastic fragrance tales while wafting aromas around.
“Smell this,” he said. “This is Black Jade by Creed, the scent Marie Antoinette was wearing when she was apprehended.” Swiftly followed the last fragrance worn by Princess Diana, the perfume commissioned by Grace Kelly to seduce someone she would never name, Cary Grant’s favorite scent, the ‘dark rose tweak’ at the heart of Lady Vengeance created by Nina Ricci’s grandson – a racing car driver, a thunderous lecture on “blonde” scents versus those more suitable for “true brunettes” (it is apparently hormonal) and the evils of the new Justin Bieber cologne.
“At least Justin is not dead in a conspiracy theory,” sniffed my Gemini daughter. Up until that moment, her faith in Eau du Bieber had been unshakable. “Steel yourself,” said Gary: “It is literally toilet freshener, public toilet freshener.”
We talked about Fracas, created by the dazzling Germaine Cellier, and her lesser-known Bandit. Gary trumped by asking if I knew Brigand. He was not at all surprised when I said I remember living in a haze of Fracas around the time I’d asked for a divorce: “Of course, it’s all the tuberose…” he said, launching into a quote from Thomas Moore’s poem Lalla Rookh: “The tuberose with her silvery light, that in the gardens of Malay is called the Mistress of the Night, so like a bride, scented and bright, she comes out when the Sun is away…”
Apparently, before no-fault divorce was made legal, many fragrances alluded to illicit romance – My Alibi, My Sin, Indiscretion and so on – but the Rose (unlike the naughty, nocturnal Tuberose) is reserved for wives. Sadly, retail staff talents like Gary are rare these days.