When I was 13-years-old I decided that I wanted to be Audrey Hepburn. Not Doris Day, not Marilyn Monroe, but Audrey Hepburn. I read everything I could about her and somewhere one factoid I gleaned was that she wore a perfume called Shalimar.
So off I went to the temple of all things grand, Eaton's Department Store, and sure enough they had that exotic French perfume, but it was $13 a bottle.
Those were 1964 dollars and to put it in perspective, my parents were paying $72.50 a month for the mortgage on their house and I was making a grand total of 25 cents an hour babysitting.
It took me forever, but before I turned 14, I bought the bottle and it's been my perfume ever since.
So while my contemporaries were wearing one note wonder perfumes such as Windsong, there I was with an extremely complicated perfume that started out with a strong musk note and after a few hours ended up whispering about irises. This is not a perfume for a young girl, but I didn't know any better and wore it anyhow.
I didn't realize it in 1964, but Guerlain created Shalimar back in 1925, a time of social upheaval not that long after the First World War. This was the time of emancipation for women, the era when they cut off their hair and discarded all the corsets and layers of clothing that had bound them for generations. Sex had tiptoed out of the Victorian shadows back then. To me Shalimar is about all these things, an olfactory time capsule.
Heck, Theda Bara's reign as the silent movie's "it" girl was coming to an end when my perfume was made. Shalimar has been around the block and then some.
My most recent bottle ran out a few weeks back. I bought a new one a few days ago when I was in Montreal, wincing mightily at the price.
But now, as I head ever closer to my 50th birthday, and I think of the jumble of contradictory words I would use to describe myself, I feel I have finally grown into this perfume.
Its tangle of contradictory scents--bergamot, lemon, hesperides, jasmine, iris, rose, patchouli, vetiver, vanilla, incense, opopanax, sandalwood, musk, civet, ambergris, and leather--reflects all the contradictions that make me who I am. Too bad that the contradictions that describe me are alot closer to Grannie Clampett than Audrey Hepburn, huh?
Yep, back when I was 13 I bought a scent and bought into a very complicated lie our culture tells. It took me quite a few more years to realize you can't buy yourself into being someone or something.
But I still love Audrey Hepburn's perfume, eh.
Want to delve into my sordid past?
She's mellllllllllllllting - Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012 - Back off, Buble - Monday, Dec. 19, 2011 - Dispersed - Monday, Nov. 28, 2011 - Nothing comes for free - Monday, Nov. 21, 2011 - None of her business - Friday, Nov. 04, 2011 -
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