The Perfume Diaries

Today I wore “Jasmine and Tuberose” by Henri Bendel, and I walked through the streets of Europe.

Well, in my mind, anyway.

You’ve heard of the psychology term “classical conditioning,” right? (Does the name Pavlov ring a bell? Heh heh.) Whereby, one stimulus, the conditioned stimulus, signals the occurrence of a second stimulus, the unconditioned stimulus. At first, the unconditioned stimulus brings a natural, or unconditioned, response. Over time, however, the conditioned stimulus brings a conditioned response that is related to the unconditioned stimulus, even if the unconditioned stimulus is removed.

It’s simple really.

Basically, classical conditioning explains how a guy can be turned on by onion breath. For example: let’s say a guy is turned on by kissing his girlfriend. Okay, so, the unconditioned stimulus is the kiss, and the unconditioned response is the natural response to affection. BUT this guy’s girlfriend usually has really bad breath. The bad onion breath is the conditioned stimulus so that over time the onion breath and the kiss become associated in his mind to feelings of affection. Then, at some point, the kiss can be removed, and this guy will find that, strangely, he’s turned on whenever he smells onion breath.

Anyway, when I traveled to Europe five years ago, I wore this scent daily:

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Only because the cap to this

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broke and poured over an ounce of “Truly Me” into my luggage in Büdingen, Germany.

In any case, since my trip abroad, I have been fascinated by the conditioning possibility of the Henri Bendel perfume. It has the distinct ability to transport me to a time and place. To French nights, under porches, next to amber lights, waving to friends drive away in the dripping rain. To a Swiss wedding reception with loud, laughing American friends and exquisite cuisine (a phrase which, I think, I probably only ever use to describe that experience on July 1st, 2007). To the streets and the park in Luxembourg, where my simple Midwestern happiness gazed upon million dollar faces and golden trenchcoats and missed their empty bodies lying under Rout Bréck. To the ridiculous sound of flip-flops clacking in an empty cathedral. To the experience of wearing my neon pink Hello Kitty hoodie, and freezing off the top of Schilthorn. To the colors and cultures of modern Berlin, my own parent’s city of love, and the dismay I felt when I watched a homeless women, sitting next to an ancient pillar, swat and slap her crying baby. And to the German brötchen breakfast, the four-hour one, where we chatted long into the afternoon with old friends, and the tea and nutella flowed freely.

“Jasmine & Tuberose” can do that to me.

Just like Adidas Fresh takes me back to high school… and to all the insecurities and the drama. Just like Tommy Girl, which was my signature scent. Before I discovered Hugo Boss’s Femme from a dear Russian girl in Bad Pyrmont. Whenever I put this on, I remembered walking in the garden where the queen of Prussia took her holidays. Seriously.

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Charlotte Russe’s Shine was more of an everyday thing, but it reminds me of working at the greenhouse with flowers and blooms and how my friend’s grandmother and another coworker were always commenting on it. So much so, that I bought my colleague a bottle.

Once I was in New York, New York, and I slipped into a perfume store, hoping to pick up some more Femme when a man basically grabbed my arm and sprayed it with a bottle that resembled and that he called “Juicy.” The scent was phenomenal. “You like Juicy? Normally $30, but I give it to you for $20!” I bartered him down to $15, and he complained the whole time claiming that was how much he paid for it. I finally set the price at $10, saying it was all I had, and then I walked away. He came after me, bagging up the perfume, and said, “Here, take it. $10.” (Then I was pretty embarrassed to hand him a twenty and ask for change.) But not really because when I took it out of the box, it was labeled “Gussi,” as in “Joo-cee,” as in, “I’m-a-fake-perfume-sucker.” However, ten bucks for believable fake perfume is a really great bargain for a poor college student.

And of course, PINK “fresh & clean” comes from an EPIC shopping trip with a dear Kansas chum last summer.

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Very nice for everyday use.
And the bottle is the funnest square bottle to use.
Next only to:

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Burberry Sport: my current olfactory atmosphere. I can’t wait for the conditioning, and the memories, to begin.

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