...warm, thick and furry.
All of us have idiosyncratic internal maps of the world, a lattice of longitudes and latitudes drawn from our likes, dislikes, goofy little habits and whatever ex-friends we’re trying to avoid. We travel our same routes, choose our favorite meals, listen to the best music. And we know it’s the best music, because, well, we like it. Stuck as we are in our personal topography, it’s sometimes hard to shake up our experiences. After all, our bubble is a comfy one. We know the layout, even if the layout is straight out of House Beautiful circa 1986.
Everything in my version of reality corresponds to my not-very-accurate Katie Map. If the grocery store is out of Ciao Bella Malted Milk Ball Gelato, well then, that’s it – there’s no ice cream to be had anywhere in the land. That is, until Malted Milk Ball Gelato mysteriously reappears in my local freezer section.
My tunnel vision extends to television. I’ve heard tell of whole villages making merry over Project Runway and American Idol. I know these shows exist, but they’re invisible to me. In my own personal hamlet, my TV’s sole purpose is to broadcast True Blood and So You Think You Can Dance. As well as the great BBC 80s flashback series, Ashes to Ashes, which moved me to tears by the sheer nostalgic force of Ultravox Vienna in the soundtrack.
It’s the same story at the perfume counter: a few beloved friends and favorites (Bulgari Jasmin Noir eau de parfum, Agent Provocateur, Gucci Rush), standing head and shoulders over a bunch of anonymous blah blah (the Givenchy Irresistibles, the Burberrys, all 17 Bulgari Omnis, whatever the hell they are). And I really do stop and smell the blah blah, to at least hear them out. But as I try my darnedest to tell the difference between the new Juicy Couture “Couture Couture” and the new Marc Jacobs “Lola”, I wade dangerously into the uncharted, “Here Be Monsters” territory of my fragrance map.
The fancy-pants niche bunch is not spared my Swiss cheese-like focus, either. Particularly at risk are lines with a cast of thousands, like Serge Lutens’. Remembering what’s in Lutens’ is like trying to name U.S. state capitals: I get through a few before I hit a wall. Ambre Sultan, New York City, Baton Rouge, Chypre Rouge...and New York City isn’t even right. So when one of my YouTube viewers wrote to extol the special charms of Lutens’ Chergui, I was all, “Cher-what?” I got my crayons out and prepared to color in a little more of the Katie Map.
The smell of Chergui is warm, thick and furry, like Michael McDonald’s singing voice - or Fozzie Bear’s speaking voice -- or my favorite Lhasa Apso Rodrigo’s entire body. This eau de parfum is an unusual combination of smells from different planets in the “let’s get cozy” universe. There’s hay and honey, the faint niff of cherry pipe tobacco, a slight bite of incense. There’s a rocks-in-the-ground iris that tamps down the sweetness with its granite earthiness. And there’s a milky sandalwood haze that hangs around the whole gig.
By the time I’d finished processing Chergui’s friction between spicy and dusty, edible and smokable, masculine and feminine, I’d expanded my warped map of the world. Maybe I should give Project Runway a chance while I’m at it.
Image: Rodrigo the Perfume Dog