Monday, September 19, 2005

The Case for Scents and Memory

Continuing our discussion of fragrance from last week, here are a few more perfumes that bring up memories. Keep in mind that I probably wore some of these fragrances in copious amounts, sprayed at least twice all over my younger self several times a day. Between that and the smoking I used to do, it's a wonder my nose is still intact...

- Gloria Vanderbilt. The one with the swan on the bottle. Aw, man, this was the stuff of middle-school dances where I felt dorky about not having anyone to dance with me so I would go home crying. To this day I can't even look at a bottle without remembering that I probably spritzed this on while wearing elasticized acid-wash jeans.

- Colors de Benetton. This was the fragrance equivalent of the Swatch watch - everyone in my middle school had one, and it was colorful and awesome, so I pestered my folks to buy it for me. Not a bad scent, though.

- Lady Stetson. How did this tiny bottle come into my possession? Did I get this for Christmas at one point? All I remember is that it was actually quite feminine and woody, and I still wore it, even though the name itself conjures up cowboy hats and country music.

- Body Shop Dewberry. Or, as my cousins used to call it, "Dew Berrymore." Anyway, when I was in high school, people had a habit of carrying around their honking full-size bottles of fragrance in their backpacks so that they could spritz themselves after PE, or at least mask the fact that they've been smoking. This fruity/fresh scent, along with the Lady Stetson, was the one that ended up in my school bag most days, considering what I didn't want to carry to school...

- Chanel No. 5. My “I'm too sexy for 12th grade” scent, and one I had no shame about buying at a Duty Free on my Dad's dime. Yes, I even wore it to bed. With my pajamas.

- Joop! Nightflight. Talk about memories! My biggest crush-slash-almost-boyfriend back in high school wore this, and for years I went around trying to sniff it so I could remember him. I don't know where I can find it now (or the guy, for that matter - not that I care either way) but I do remember how deliciously sexy it was on him, kind of citrusy and herbal. No wonder I love it when guys smell good, even if it's just from soap.

- Davidoff Cool Water. On the flip side of the “nice smelling guy” coin was Cool Water, which for all its pleasant freshness could not shake off its subliminal association with most of the jackasses that I've met who wore this, be it with the popular guys in my high school or the one dude I made out with at the club back in the day. Incidentally, said jackasses mentioned were also heavy smokers, which probably explains why I could also never shake off the connection between Cool Water and tobacco.

- Guerlain Shalimar. The only fragrance I saw in the bathrooms of our friends' house in the French countryside. (Even the soap and lotions were Shalimar!) Timeless and ageless, thanks to the vanilla and lemon notes. The scent Britney and Jessica could only wish their signature fragrances would smell like.

- Coty Vanilla Fields. I have a love-hate relationship with this fragrance. The hate comes from an ex-roommate who spritzed this stuff all over the place, which was one of the numerous things that drove me nuts about her. The love comes from the floral and musky notes that emerge after you get past the vanilla, which is why I did end up wearing this for a spell back when I was working.

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