After a few months of MUA swapping, I’ve got samples all over the place. They’re on the nightstand. They’re in little boxes here and there. They’re in my handbag and in my pockets and on kitchen counters. The other day I found one in the refrigerator.
I sometimes wonder what would happen if my house ever got searched. What would the cops make of all these little zip-loc bags, hundreds of vials, inch-high screw-top bottles (let's not go there), pipettes, eyedroppers and teensy-weensy funnels?
My derriere would be hauled off to the slammer, that’s what. Intent to distribute, well, I’m sure they’d figure out something.
I’m not the best at identifying “notes.” I’m in awe of those who can, with one delicate and refined sniff, say, “Ahhhh. Of course. Hyacinth. Ambrette seed. Isobutylquioline-hydrocitralcellu-benzodiazapine-18.” I’m not there. Actually I don’t think I’ll ever be there.
But I wanted to really kinda grok* these samples. So I made a whole bunch of little watercolor paper strips – one 18 x 24 sheet of Arches will provide a huge supply – and applied a drop from each sample. These hold onto the notes for awhile, as the paper is thick and fibrous (and besides, I’m not painting on it much these days anyway). I thought, I’ll sniff a random few of these and see if my nose has improved any lately. So I did, recording my impressions, and then went to Basenotes to see if I’d been right. For brevity here, let’s call Basenotes “Alex” and I will be “Contestant # 1,” a.k.a. “C1.”
C1: “Hmmm. Something woodsy, something sweet. Kind of dry. Classic, powerful. Smells kinda like a Guerlain. I want this.”
Alex: “The answer must be posed as a question! Ylang-ylang, blackcurrant bud! Woods and balsams!”
C1: “Uh, yeah. Right.”
Tauer Reverie du Jardin
C1: “Is it lavender, Alex? Sweet grass? Some kind of floral?"
Alex: (Impatient grimace) "and fir balm, galbanum, bergamot, orris, frankincense, rose absolute, ambrette seed, oakmoss, vanilla, cedar, amber and sandalwood!”
C1: “Oh!” (Slaps forehead in frustration) “How could I have missed those!”
Malle Angeliques Sous La Pluie
C1: “Ummm…herbal? Cedar? Is it cedar, Alex?” (Sniffs strip again) “Wait a second…it’s gone!” (Scratches head.) “I know! Is it a Jean-Claude Ellena?”
Alex: (presses buzzer) “Pink pepper. Juniper. Coriander. Yes…cedar. But I don’t see any…judges?” (Waits.) “No, no uhjohnclodelena. Not a note. Sorry.”
Tauer Lonestar Memories
C1: “Wow. Tar. Chilly air. Is that WD-40?”
Alex: “Not tar, Tauer. Sorry. Tobacco. Leather. Wood. But you were close!”
C1: “Wait…don’t tell me. Hamster bedding! Is it that stuff you use to line a hamster cage?”
Alex: “No, dear. It’s perfume. Cedar and ginger…” (buzzer sounds)
DSH Special Formula X
Yves Rocher 8eJour
C1: “Wow. It smells kind of like Mitsouko, only sweeter. Maybe it’s me…though, is it Mitsouko, Alex? Chypre and, uh, what’s that stuff, persicol? A reformulation maybe?”
Alex: (riffling though papers) “Judges?” (Waits) (Waits) “Yes? We don’t have record of this substance? What is your ruling, then?” (Waits)
“Close enough? All right.” (Turns to contestant C1) “We’ll accept your judgment. And that means that YOU, C1, go home with fifty dollars and a lifetime supply of “Covet” by Sarah Jessica Parker!”
Of course there are more samples. Many more. And I know I’ll find that vial of Lutens Fleurs d’Oranger one day. Wait a second…maybe it’s under the bed?
See you next time!
*The word “grok” means, roughly, “to understand fully and completely.” It’s from Robert Heinlein’s Sci-Fi classic “Stranger in a Strange Land,” and is one of the few words from the Sixties, unlike “groovy” and “peaking,” that is still actually useful.