Monday, June 29, 2009

surrounded by water, I'm thirsty

Okay. I'm on my third attempt to write this blog entry. This is the first time that's ever happened. I don't know how many entries there have been on this blog, but I know it's not a small number, so I have to give myself a pat on the back for hundreds of free flowing words.

So, the topic tonight is perfume. Not the analysis of perfume, but the amount of it. I catalogued my collection of fragrances yesterday and I have 197** different scents in my possession. Don't be too shocked (though a few of you, I know, may be saying "is that all?"); most of this collection is stored in tiny 1 milliliter vials. But still, I was surprised that I had that much.

I'd been thinking lately that I really needed more scents to smell. I wanted more. And I still do.

Oddly, my desire for more came after discovering I had in my possession a gem I didn't realize I had - Parfums de Nicolai's Vie de Chateau (thank you, Nika). I spent a sultry day repeatedly reapplying it, not because it was weak, but because I was in love with its top notes. I kept lifting my wrist to my nose, ooh-ing and ahh-ing and generally driving Dick crazy with "aw, smell this - it's intoxicating!", over and over again. It didn't intoxicate him. "It's nice" was about all he said (half-heartedly).

The thing was, even though I was happy that I'd finally found something new that moved me so, all it did was make me wonder why I hadn't smelled everything put out by Parfums de Nicolai. A few days later, I found an old vial of half-used Annick Goutal Neroli and re-discovered how much I liked that. Then, I started thinking of how I had not collected many green scents since my disenchantment with the reformulations of Chanel Cristalle and No. 19. I was craving bright scents, clean scents, flowery scents. . .maybe it's because we haven't seen any sun in an entire month. I don't know. My desire for more, more, more, was (and still is) a bit obsessive.

So, I catalogued and discovered I had more. But still not enough. White florals? There's good ones out there, certainly, but I eschewed them right from the start of my interest in perfumes. Rose? I found one I loved (Yves Rocher Rose Absolue), tried a few, hated them, swapped them away and then stopped bothering.

I want to try all the "girly" stuff I once couldn't care less about. I want something pink, with bows on the bottle. I want to sniff the old tried and true scents. I want to try more of the scents that are hated by perfume snobs. I want to try every single Madini, every Serge Lutens, every Frederic Malle, every. . .well, everything. And that crazy Thierry Mugler comfret of Perfumes based on the movie. . .at $750 (if you can still get it) for scents that smell like rotting flesh (and more!)*

I want every vial of fragrance I can get my grubby little hands on. And I want it now.

I really don't think this is about perfume.

I don't know what it is about. Really.

I have never been a collector. Is this what it's like? If so, there's something rather awful about it. Sure, it's fun, and collecting vials is not an expensive habit (thankfully). Swapping with strangers, who sometimes become friends, is wonderful. But this grasping, well, it doesn't feel right. It doesn't feel good craving something so strongly.

Maybe if it was love of another human being it would feel okay. But even if I'm not spending copious sums of money, or even hardy anything at all, it feels like some kind of crazy materialistic need that's suddenly spiraled out of control.

Last week a fragrance board went a little crazy with all the C.O. Bigelow stores going out of business. Now, I thought C.O. Bigelow was an old pharmacy that I used to get my prescriptions at in New York City. I live in rural Maine. No, C.O. Bigelow is a chain of fake apothecaries (or something, I haven't seen one). Many of them are going out of business and they were having huge sales, putting L'artisan and Annick Goutal perfumes out for 75% off, and while they didn't do this on line, they were taking orders over the phone. I came into this late in the game. Hundred dollar bottles of perfume for 25 bucks?! I got on line and found the phone number for every C.O. Bigelow store in the country and called them: "What do you have left?" Nothing. Nothing. Then, finally, one gal gave me a long list of Goutals, all in the worst American mispronunciation of French I've ever heard. Listening hard, I realized I didn't need or want any of them, but someone else I knew did. I sent her a message. One store left on the list, though. . .uh oh. . .it's past 9:00p.m. in Illinois! I call anyway: "Yes, we've got lots left. Call in the morning." I'm so excited. They've got L'artisans left!

The next day. I wait until 10:00. Pick up the phone. No one is answering! Isn't it 10:00 in Illinois?! They open late?! How dare they?!

All they've got left is Vanilia, which I hate.

Later that day, I look at the same fragrance boards. There's a three-hour sale at Beauty Habit! What's the code?! What's the code!!??

Then my internet connection goes dead. Hold on. I've got a copy of a Beauty Habit receipt from December in my documents folders. So, I call them; "You've got to become a follower on Twitter to get the code." My connection is down! No!

This is craziness. I've got better things to do then chase down perfume sales.

And, I'm beating myself up for not buying that bottle of Goutal Neroli I saw at Marshall's over the winter.

This post does not have a nice tidy ending with a moral. It doesn't even have an ending.

Photo note: A glimpse of the Annick Goutal shop in Paris. Just because it's pretty (and there's lots of bottles, which is a good thing, right?).

*If you haven't seen that site, go! It's a lot of fun, with good music, too.

**As of July 1st, the number is 201.


BitterGrace said...

I sympathize completely, but your post made me laugh, too. The quest for magic juice is absurd, yet irresistible.

Tania said...

oh God, this is so true! ;-)

I have never counted my collection. I daren't. Most of it is full bottles, which is absurdly wasteful when decants and samples are available. And yet, I still want the next perfume I hear about, which is sure to be better than all those I have already. I went to the Liberty sale recently - twice! - and bought several more bottles.

Is there a patch for this?

Julie H. Rose said...

Well, lucky you, Tania, that you can afford that. I'd be doing the same thing if I could.

Of course there's no patch for it, though perhaps some perfumer with a sense of humor might design one.

Personally, I don't want to be cured of this addiction! There's too much pleasure in it and it hurts no one (I hope).