Grace wrote: Do you know any lemon or citrus-based scents that don’t smell like household cleaner? I have this scent-memory I’m trying to track down. When I was in the hospital two summers ago, the sweet nurses would come in once in a while and rub my hand with some kind of cheap lotion that smelled like lemons in a warm, comforting, delicious way. I’d never liked citrus scents much before that, but now I’m a little obsessed.
My money’s on: Jean Nate. It comes in packaging that looks like this. It is extremely cheap and extremely simple and lovely and I love it, especially the body powder. Jean Nate does not actually smell like lemons, although it recreates the bright, uplifting lemon experience with notes like lavender and lily of the valley. I think it would fit the description of warm, comforting, and delicious as well as forensically being something a nurse might actually have lying around her hospital station. Another option could be Razac Hand and Body Lotion. This smells more like soapy, woodsy grapefruits than lemons to me, and it’s more brisk than comforting, but it could certainly find its way to a nurse’s station.
I looked all over for a nice nurse picture to use with this post, but they were all either holding syringes or else they were “nurses,” that is to say, costumed strumpets. Neither seemed like an appropriate image to go along with a memory of someone’s much-appreciated competence and kindness, so I found some flowers instead.
Hope one of these works out for you, Grace!
So, to lay a little bit of casual groundwork: Joy’s claim to fame is that it is (or was) The Costliest Perfume in The World. Created by the French house of Patou to make American women feel luxurious even in the midst of the Great Depression. On one hand, awww, France… thanks! Between Joy and the Statue of Liberty, you guys have historically been grand buddies of the USA. I’m sorry that our leaders tend to get all butthurt every time you disagree with our politics, because you have for the most part been most excellent allies, both politically and culturally. Don’t listen to them. You are appreciated for all you have done and all that you are, France, including Joy de Jean Patou, which remains one of the great perfume big guns of history.
And lawwwd have mercy, what a big gun she is! It was suggested by Jae in the comments section that I try Joy on for size, and try her on I have. To be fair, I already had Joy in my stash before she said anything about it, but I took her out for another spin yesterday, a freezing stay-inside-if-you-can doozy of a cold, cold day. The parfum is amber in color, thicker and more sticky than the average parfum, and packs a stinging eau-de-vie wallop right out of the vial. Give it a few moments and it’s Grasse jasmine singing a dramatic soprano aria, joined a bit later by the earthy, mezzo murmurings of the Rose de Mai. These notes are so strong, distinct, and almost crudely rendered that it smells as though you’ve just put pure essential oils on your skin. Joy goes on like this for about an hour before the other part kicks in, and the other part is this mellow, honeyed, salty warmth that calls to mind nothing more than a clean but slightly sweaty ass crack. In the best possible way. I offered my wrist to a friend and asked him if it didn’t smell like ass crack. He sniffed me for awhile and finally said, “I don’t think ass crack is a bad thing.” That about sums it up. The ass accord is commonly attributed to civet, but since I don’t know anything about all that, it smells more to me like all the flowers in the opening have wilted slightly, sweated into their costumes, gotten very relaxed and sleepy, and are ready for bed after a long night of hard work. It’s lovely, and very human-smelling even if you don’t buy the ass crack line and haven’t personified perfume notes into opera singers. Also, all stages of this perfume are very strong. People will smell you if you wear this. They won’t be sniffing and looking around and wondering loudly who has swamp ass on the subway, but they might pick up on a bit of subliminal sex and start looking at you like you possibly have some for them. So basically, it accomplishes what the D&G Light Blues and Fresh Sugars of the world won’t: actual suggestiveness.
When viewing it all through the filter of Joy de Jean Patou, it’s easy to imagine that French sympathy for Americans during the Great Depression carried with it a wise, understated message: lighten up, take the ass crack with the flowers, and shit, if the stock market crashes, definitely pick up a bottle of the costliest perfume in the world to tide you over until happier days arrive. Joy is your birthright. Don’t let anything take your humanity from you, and don’t believe anyone who tells you they’ve never smelled an ass crack and liked it.
Filed under: Perfume | Tags: Bond Chinatown, Chan Marshall, Jovan Fresh Patchouli, patchouli
So, ever since I wrote this post on Jovan Fresh Patchouli, it has generated far and away the most traffic of anything else on this site, with the occasional exception of this one. It is searched for and viewed many times a day. I have no idea why. My only clue comes from my own comment section, courtesy of one Chan from Toronto:
YES. YES. DITTO! i cant beleive tht someone is able to put WORDS 2th way ths stuff-is!? idunno…and its th 1st time since th 1960s-70s tht i had tht, ‘i’m friends w/tht chick cuz we both luv levijeans’ feeling tht kids get when they really wanna be a part of th club. pre-sex,-drugs,etc. its th patchouli club!!! and every single girl i’ve ever met who wears ths stuff [or wild musk by coty] is th kinda girl tht guys can laugh with but wanna make out with 2 yet other girls dig her! lol thnx 4 th trip! i’ll fav ths and pull it out when i need a high. cheers! ps~btw, i cant find it anywhere anymore! been looking for 3 weeks now. i just took 7 empty bottles, broke off th tops and put it into a weee bottle. i’m in toronto canada. do u have any idea where i can obtain it? [a case?] teeheehee..kinda like a dry spell o’magic mushrooms,eh?!!! LMAO
Well, Chan, I wish I could relate more. As it stands, I am a very infrequent visitor to the Patchouli Club’s fragrant compound. But I was really taken with the idea that the Patchouli Club was some sort of teenybopper precursor to actual sex, drugs, and et cetera. Like if marijuana is a gateway drug, Jovan’s Fresh Patchouli is the gateway to the gateway drug. That sounded absolutely spot-on to me, believing as I do that perfume is an indicator of identity as well as remembering firsthand all the Patchouli Club kids from my own adolescence. On top of that, Jovan Fresh Patchouli is sort of a training-wheels version of patchouli scents in general. It’s nowhere near as raunchy as the hard shit straight out of an essential oil vial. No one’s going to tell you that you smell like an armpit or a heavy session if you wear this. Instead, it uses patchouli to add an appropriate wet, funky note to a grassy meadow, or perhaps even a plain old All-American baseball field. This is exactly what perfume you’d wear if you were screwing up your courage to try a cigarette in the girl’s bathroom someday. I feel you, Chan. Wait, you’re not this Chan, are you?
When I first started messing around with Fresh Patchouli, my friend Heather said that it reminded her of strawberry incense. I was like, you’re crazy, it smells nothing like that. But after she said it, I began to smell what she was talking about in there. This faint, sweet, burnt-fruity note that I suspect is not actually strawberry, but a happy, impressionistic accident. Now the strawberry incense is the whole reason I like the perfume. In fact, I almost wish someone would take that idea and run with it. In my mind’s nose, the perfect Fresh Patchouli variation would smell similar to Bond No. 9’s Chinatown but with strawberry instead of peach. Punk sticks, patchouli, sandalwood soap, hay, that teenage bedroom-rot smell, and just a little bit of that sickly strawberry head shop oil. Fucking yum. Make this for me, someone. Me and all of these Jovan Fresh Patchouli Clubbers that blow my site up daily.
But back to my Patchouli Clubbers, I don’t know what else to tell you about this perfume. I wrote this post to help scratch your seemingly insatiable itch a little further, but the fact of the matter is that this stuff has become very rare. I found mine at a CVS, but it’s not in the other CVSes. This is about all that comes up from an internet search other than my review and a bunch of E-Bay shysters trying to sell this stuff for way too much money:
I know it’s not much to go on, especially when you have a monkey on your back. But I’m trying to be an advocate for y’all here, and who knows, maybe someone is listening.
Filed under: Uncategorized
My classes are over for the winter and I am bored out of my mind. Please, please, please send me in some excuses to leave the house. Namely, what perfume do you wear, or what perfume are you curious about? I’ll go out, wander around one of our local perfume emporiums looking all shady, spray them, smell them, and then come back here and write about them.
Leave me some instructions in the comments so that my ass doesn’t atrophy.
Uhhh, I just dug up my infamous “first novel.” Sorry I have to do this to you, but I really, really do. Laughing at yourself with yourself by yourself is not as satisfying as it should be.
I have sex with Sam and as far as sex goes it’s basically standard. The kissing-with-intent, the self consciously consuming passion, the first genital contact alien and formal as a UN handshake, but far from bad, it’s just not anything except sex. The usual series of sophomoric writhings, little breathless whimpers, my weak almost-an-almost-an-orgasm achieved during the dry hump phase, his premature ejaculation, the post-premature-ejaculation-apologies, noncommitally tender caresses, spooning, faux-sleep, real sleep. Sex, sex, sex, blah, blah, blah. I’ve had better times with my hand and PJ Harvey.
Oh, Sam. I’ve betrayed you at the last like you always knew I would. I think of your free espressos and shiny smiles and clean shirts and heartless manipulation and unreturned phone calls and casual sex with hippie girls and contort motionlessly in an agonized pathos between these itchy motel sheets because none of it helped, Sam, and I suspect you must be heartbroken. But I don’t really. I don’t even get that much out of it.
Sweet dreams, internet! I’ll be over here, contorting motionlessly in an agonized pathos.
You know that one moment when acquaintances unequivocally reveal themselves to you in something of a regrettable fashion that is almost certainly a mistake? It’s always awkward, because while they are the ones who cannot go back in time and undo or unsay whatever has just been done or said, you are the one with the burdensome choice of either pretending it didn’t happen or in some way commenting on it. Both of you will stare at each other for a few seconds, knowing that regardless of which option you pick, it will cause the other person to dig themselves even deeper into what is now your mutual uncomfortableness. This is a crucial point in human relationships, because there is no recovery, only a deepened understanding or a swift rejection. Most people avoid this moment like the plague. Others, myself included, have been known to encourage it. I do not have any friends who have never made a complete ass out of themselves in front of me. It suggests to me that I have full reciprocal impunity to make an ass out of my own self, and I find this comforting.
Even so, someone should have told Mrs. F back in junior year that high school girls were not her friends. She was a small and energetic brunette sporting a shaggy, mousse-curled mop of hair that combined with her saucer-sized blue eyes caused her to resemble a muppet. One of the pretty-girl muppets, but a muppet nonetheless. Anyway, Mrs. F was the choir director. High school choir is intense, man, and requires something of a charismatic leader to inspire in its teenaged singers the appropriate sense of being part of something important and challenging. The teacher before Mrs. F, Mrs. B, had this quality in spades, but the downside of this was that she was totally and completely evil in that Jean-Brodie-meets-David-Koresh kind of way. While Mrs. B loved nothing more than to do things like miscast the school musicals with sophomores in the lead roles and then sit back to enjoy the ensuing macrodrama, Mrs. F just kind of did her job. When people sang solos, it was because their particular voice fit the particular piece of music. Choir members were not pitted against each other so that Mrs. B could catalog who would crumble under her perversely-applied pressure and who would take it up as a cause. With the advent of Mrs. F, choir was suddenly a simple endeavor: we sang, Mrs. F directed us.
As much of a relief as this was, it was also boring. We had no sense of knowing who Mrs. F was, or what we needed to do in order to work with her to our own maximum benefits. For this reason, she was dismissed as an authority figure and we began to more of less self-govern.
Since we hadn’t been looking to Mrs. F as any sort of personal role model, the day that her inherent authority as a teacher made itself known brought with it a heightened sense of shock. The story that ensued is one that is capable of sending my friend Jamie (who was there too) and I into spastic states of mirth and disbelief to this day. It is also one that terrifies me when I remember that I’m also a teacher now, and infinitely capable of creating a similar effect in my college freshmen in the space of one misworded sentence, one personal anecdote gone awry.
Anyway, we were all on the bus home from a choir competition in Boston. We’d done decently. Everyone was tired. A few of us were sitting in a little five or six girl knot in the middle of the bus when Mrs. F stopped over for a chat. I don’t remember what we’d been talking about, but it was probably something having to do with boys or sex, subjects that most of us knew little about and were therefore required to carry on conversations about at all times. The level of girlish bonhomie was high, enough to intoxicate Mrs. F into a state of security. She sat listening to our chatter for awhile before interrupting with a naughty fable of her own:
“I went to a bachelorette party once where we got drunk and put gourds down our pants and… you know.”
“What?” someone finally asked.
“You know,” said Mrs. F, popping her giant blue eyes at the speaker.
“I don’t know,” said Maureen McEvoy, who sealed it right there because if any one of us would know, it was probably Maureen.
“Me either,” I spoke up. We all looked at each other with a combination of puzzlement and horror, Mrs. F included.
“You know,” Mrs. F repeated one more time before going to sit somewhere else in the bus. Her insistence that we must know of a probable course of action following the part where a bunch of women put gourds down their pants was sincere, and tinged with an eye-rolling certainty that we were trying to embarrass her by suggesting that she elaborate on this.
“What kind of gourds were they?” I asked after she’d left. None of us knew, and having been left to figure this out on our own, Mrs. F’s story took on an added element of the sinister. Did they like… masturbate with them? I didn’t see how Mrs. F would have felt comfortable telling us this partial story fragment in the first place if that were the case, nor could I imagine the logistics of how a gourd down one’s pants would provide any kind of sexual frisson, especially while hanging out with girlfriends at a party. Had Mrs. F told us that she and her drunk friends had merely pretended that the gourds were boners or something, it would have been met with relief, because putting gourds down your pants and pretending they were boners probably is funny. But it made no sense that after beginning this story, she would refuse to elaborate on the very part of it that would make the telling of this story in the first place in some way okay. Was there some third option that possibly had nothing whatsoever to do with sex? The “down the pants” part seemed to deny that possibility, as did the mysterious, “you know.”
Had any of us for any reason put gourds down our pants and then told a story about it, we would have told the entire story, but the only clue Mrs. F left was the fact that she was a teacher, making whatever had happened next something necessarily inappropriate to tell high school girls.
Suddenly, we understood the deep ambivalence of authority, perpetually torn between allowing one’s true self to do the governing and fearing the resultant loss of respect. We also understood that we ourselves held a certain degree of power over authority, capable of deciding whether or not to allow our authority figures their humanity. But the thing we understood best was that we really had no idea what to expect from life if our slightly dopey choir director was a woman with a secret life, a life in which she put gourds down her pants and… you know.