One Thousand Scents

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Great Divide

I am slowly ensnaring a co-worker in my heinous web of scent addiction, and I don't feel a bit sorry.

A few months ago I gave her a half-dozen Demeters that I wasn't wearing much any more: at one point I had something on the order of 60 of them (mostly the wee half-ounce bottles), so I figured I could part with a few. Last month she ordered some for herself. It's only a matter of time before I've got her hooked on Serge Lutens* and vintage Hermes and the like; just you watch.

Today for fun I brought in the first two Demeters I ever bought, Gingerale and Graham Cracker. As I had guessed she might, she instantly fell in love with Gingerale: how could you not, with that unbelievable carbonation effect? (And why hasn't Demeter done a whole line of carbonated scents — Sprite, Orange Crush, Hires Root Beer, Coca-Cola? I'd buy every one.)

On the way out the door tonight I let another co-worker smell them both, and while she was surprised at the accuracy of the Gingerale, she didn't get it, or Graham Cracker either. "Why would anyone want to smell like ginger ale?" she asked, and then, "Why would anyone want to smell like a graham cracker?"

Because they smell nice, and are therefore nice things to smell like? Because they're fun? Because they're unexpected?

I've been wearing scents for so long that it is normal for me to smell like a jar of olives in a forest fire or sambuca or the coast of Newfoundland and to expect other people to want to do so as well. I have to remind myself from time to time — because this knowledge does not come naturally to me — that not everybody thinks the same way as I do or has the same experiences as I've had, so to most people, fragrance is aftershave or a fruity floral and not some baffling concoction that makes its wearer smell like a Dadaist hootenanny.

*I have already given her a start down the Lutens road: recently I gave her a couple of spray vials, including Louve, which she likes (although if I can find my sample of Rahät Loukoum I think she will like that better), and a booklet of wax samples including the irresistible Un Bois Vanilla. She's bound to succumb.

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