Scent of a Woman and Bringing Home the Bacon -- the Pursuit of the Perfume That Defines You

In search of an antidote to the Great Depression, Jacques Guerlain in 1925 (second release with 1921 the original debut facing delay due to a competitor's intervention -- more on this when another occasion presents itself -- truly a fascinating story but off topic) created a concoction of various scents gathered together in a magical fragrance factory and tada, Shalimar was presented to the world.

Every young lady must select her own scent -- a definitive emulsion of us -- our essence and presence wrapped up together so that it remains ever so briefly even when we have left the scene. A distinct fragrance that suits our character and what we wish to subtly share with the world around us.

Just as our favorite color finds us through exposure to the rainbow of options available to our sight and there it is-the blue, red, purple variation that fits us and our clothing, car, bicycle, wall colors, etc. so does the unique fragrance that suits us. We must sniff what is available and discover which combination of flowers and such intertwines with who we are and lifts us up with one wiff, one deep inhale. Our selected scent reveals us, at least a subtle sensuous part of us, exposing a piece of our hearts desire, to the world. Even if you have been of the tribe that has several fragrances upon our vanity, depending on the mood you will select that which suits how you feel at the time you press the perfume decanter and aim toward your décolletage. You are what scent you wear.

It can be a bit of an intimidating venture out to your local perfume counter to discover a piece of yourself amongst the dozens of choices. How to narrow the process down without neglecting a possible match? And how to keep from a prolonged chemistry experiment gone awry. You run the risk of walking away smelling like a pungent mess. I last about 22 seconds in the perfume bubble of a fancy shop before I escape for a breathe of fresh air.

I simply got lucky at 17. A little young to step onto the sensual path a special scent takes you on, though I had the best guide at my side. My dear friend, Ms. Keith, a charming beautiful Richmond Virginia belle insisted all young ladies find their scent post haste prior to the initiation into adulthood -- which for us was soon approaching. So off we went to Garfinkel's in downtown DC in search of our scent. My twin dibs Anais Anais (brilliance-delicious scent) immediately, and I craftily avoided 17 wrist sprays. To this day when I catch a breath of A2 a picture of my womb mate pops into my mind's eye. The aggressive perfume counter sprayer-lady hired for the job sprayed me repeatedly with several options as if she was collecting a fee for each whiff she shot at me. Like wine tasting for the day, I lost track of what I liked and didn't like. My skin turned pink on interior forearms and upper chest and my eyes teared up. There was a strange tickle in my tonsils. This "journey" would soon end, or I would suffocate and break out in hives. I needed some air. This wasn't going well, but what was I to do without a scent of my own if I gave up too soon?

I pentagon walked it to the nearest door and sucked in the summer-back-east air. Ms. Keith caught a few humid inhales of the season heat wave with me outside the doors. I felt ill as well as a failure. I closed my eyes and as impossible as it seemed I smelled the scent of me, the what-I-wanted-me-to-be scent. Perhaps it was the heavy humid air just before the rain hits the pavement smell, the smell of a thunderstorm brewing that cleared my nasal palate from the early counter assault. I breathed Ms. Keith in. Hard not to as she had her arms around me comforting me in her delicate southern drawl, "Honey child, we can do this another day if you're not well." She always smells like a delicious combination of old-fashioned glamor and modern woman. She smells absolutely divine, and this is what I want my scent of almost-woman to be. I asked Ms. Keith if she would mind if I adopted her scent as my own, with a bit of pride (and I am sure a bit of relief as well), she agreed to share her beloved Shalimar with me. The mad scientist mixologist's brilliant slight seduction of vanilla and spices wrapped up into a dreamy concoction is what I have claimed as my scent. It took a deep breath in and some fresh humid air to find Shalimar, and I have never strayed.

During the I-am-a-Pepper You're-a-Pepper wouldn't like to be-a-Pepper-too, the Juicy Fruit tree filled with gum we all wanted planted in our backyard, as well as the I am stuck on BandAids and BandAids are stuck on you, the era of the late '70s, the most enticing of them all, the creative genius work of commercials of this time, birthed my favorite, the Enjoli perfume spots that seemed to run each night with The Brady Bunch show.

"I bring home the bacon. I fry it up in a pan and never let you forget that you're the man..."

I was in elementary school when I decided I wanted to grow up to be the Enjoli lady. She was gorgeous, a great cook, accomplished and managed to do it all with her hairdo staying put (most likely Aqua Net-supported), and she could sing. I am very grateful Shalimar crossed my destiny when she did or I'd be a cougar with a frying pan smelling like Enjoli walking my pup to the park.

Our preferred perfume is a bottled essence of us that shadows us wherever we go. So we must select wisely.

Which fragrance do you most identify with? How did you discover the scent of the woman that you are?