I’m not sure, but I think it’s under that black thing on the beach.
I’ve just returned from St. George Island, Florida, a skinny little key that skirts along the east side of that pointy thing that sticks out into the Gulf of Mexico from the Florida panhandle. It’s my sixth time there; usually I don’t mention this place to very many people because, let’s face it, they’ll tell their friends who will tell theirs, and we don’t want it to be roooned, do we, but if any of you are interested in finding about this secret paradise, email me at olfactarama at gmail dot com and I’ll tell you all about it. Oh, and one more thing -- if you don’t think you look good in a bathing suit this appears to be the last place on earth where just about everybody is going to be bigger/blobbier/older than you.
Okay, then, let’s get to olfaction.
Oddly enough, the panhandle section of Florida really is only faintly olfactionary. In this area, there are some of the most spectacular oyster beds in the world, but there isn’t that brininess of the Pacific or Atlantic or other, colder oceans of the world. I haven’t eaten a raw oyster in years, but I do remember that that was pretty much the only appeal to them, and without that, I can’t imagine a reason why anyone would gobble down what looks and feels like -- well never mind -- but these are spectacular cooked, fried especially, as they do it down they-ah. Fried food? I can hear you saying with indrawn breath; yeah, I allow myself one fried seafood platter per year and that one platter -- shrimp, little bay scallops, oysters -- tastes pretty fabulous.
So, I thought, the last thing I’d want at the beach would be perfume, right? Wrong.
I took down some 4711, a little O de Lancome, the remainder of a sample of Jo Malone Grapefruit that I had, and some YSL In Love Again (don’t spray this on a white shirt, btw). But there was something about the heaviness of the Gulf air that seemed to require something more substantial, especially at night, especially at the local beach bar that looked as if it was constructed of driftwood somebody had nailed together. I wanted to smell like magnolias or gardenias or jasmine. Maybe because this part of Florida is still the South. But something about it transcended the Beach Cologne Rule -- you know -- lemon/citrus/light. No one ever wears anything more formal than shorts and an unstained T-shirt, but still. Snarfing down cold boiled shrimp with horseradish sauce while drinking a pint or two would seem to require something lemony, but...no. I wanted one of my divas. SL’s Fleur d’Oranger comes readily to mind. Jasmine -- they have a plant there called Confederate Jasmine, which has a lighter fragrance than, say, a la Nuit; maybe a mixed floral in which jasmine predominates? Or Fracas. Even Mitsouko, vintage extrait, with that heavy peachy-beer note. Or a Rosine; Poussiere de Rose, Twill Rose, Rose d’Homme.
I do love these kinds of surprises.
What do you wear to the beach?
photo by Patricia Borow
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