Words About Not Smelling Like Teen Spirit….Linda Knight Seccaspina
Just about every home in the world had a bottle of “Evening in Paris” somewhere in someone’s bedroom. Once upon a time even the perfume machines in women’s restrooms had them. If you put in a coin and pushed the buttons a big squirt of perfume would come out. My Grandmother would always get a bottle for a gift when I was a kid and I never heard her say she didn’t like it.
My Grandfather would take one of us girls to Varins drug store on South Street on Christmas Eve to buy a gift for her. We would come home reeking of many perfumes he had tried on me, but he always bought Evening In Paris as a special gift to win Grammy’s heart with its enticing scent.
How wonderful I felt when Grammy dabbed the fragrance from that cobalt blue bottle on my wrists and behind my ears before sending me off to school. I also remember when the vial shattered and spilled inside her coat pocket —-you could smell her long before she approached you in the preceding months.
One of my favourite flowers, Lily of the Valley, grew everywhere and after my Mother died they sent home her belongings in a blue Samsonite suitcase. When I opened it a bottle of her favourite perfume Coty’s Lily of the Valley had broken inside. For years, each time I opened that suitcase, I relived the rare hours spent with my Mother, in the many hospitals she lived in during my childhood before she died. Fragrances made me feel loved. Nothing is more memorable than a smell, sometimes it’s the key to our memories.
This is exactly where I should pump the brakes in my written journey about scents you remember. Last week I told my 7 year-old granddaughter that when I passed she and her cousin could share my collection of jewellery and hats. She was ecstatic, and then she turned to her mother and said,
“Mum, are they going to smell like Gammy?”
I was shocked and wondered if I had begun to smell musty or bad.
They say when a person approaches old age, they are more likely to start suffering from a distinctive whiff which is often described as a greasy or grassy odour, or ‘old people smell’. I remember going into my grandfather’s bedroom and it always had a certain scent to it. Concerned, I looked it up and they report it’s called– wait for it–Skin Gas. Apparently it’s 2-Nonenal gas, emitted by skin, which is a byproduct of the normal ageing process. Of all the things I thought I’d be thinking of in the new year, this wasn’t one of them. But, last week’s conversation with my granddaughter really made me think about what she was going to remember what Gammy smelled like. Getting to the bottom of it– she just didn’t care for my perfume.
Evening in Paris contained “bergamot top notes and middle notes of jasmine, Turkish rose, violet, iris, ylang-ylang, and a hint of peach and woody cedar that gave way to a sensual, powdery base of soft vanilla”. My Miss Dior Blooming Bouquet on the other hand, was supposed to be a “peony-rose sprinkled with some juicy apricot, an airy floral scent with clean white musk” wrapping it up. The first word that comes to my mind when I wear it is “celestial”– to her I smelled the opposite.
Trying to evoke my scented nostalgia for her memories would never be possible. Every once in a while a gal gets a yearning for a little powder, roses, and violets. Now, all I think about is that older people’s skin and smell will contribute to greenhouse gasses.