Laura -- what a sick story! It's got it all: obsession, a love triangle, emotional stalking -- all aided and abetted by fragrance. And the worst thing is how much I can relate. (And the other worst thing is that the perfume punch line was Burberry Summer for Women.)
Hi Katie -- no pressing perfume questions for you -- rather, I'd like to share a story. A few years ago, two people mattered more to me than anyone: my best friend and my significant other. The friend was someone I intensely admired, jealously, almost to the point of obsession. And honestly, I think the only reason I kept the boyfriend for so long was that I knew that the friend was in love with him, and would hang out with me as long as he was there. An odd triangle -- me loving her, her loving him, him loving me.
Anyway, at one point she told me her favorite fragrance and I planned to buy it for her, but her mother got there first. I was wounded about that for a little while.
Eventually my relationship with the boy ended -- violently. He promptly moved in with her, got pets with her, blah blah pain pain. It was a huge obstacle in my life and it took me a year to start moving on.
But my superpower is remembering random little things people tell me about themselves, and I never forgot which perfume it was. Lately, the possibility of owning a sample of her favorite stuff, smelling what she loves to smell, loomed until I gave in. The descriptions online sounded good, if not really my cup of tea. The sample arrived in the mail today, and I applied it about thirty minutes ago.
Katie, I feel that a huge weight has just been lifted off my shoulders. This perfume smells immature, uninteresting, and like straight-up clear hand soap. Not soap-y, just soap. Like, if I washed my hands right now, they would smell just the same.
What a relief! I would feel a lot less happy right now had the perfume smelled incredible. I am trusting myself a little more and thinking maybe, if this scent accurately represents her, I never had reason to admire her so much in the first place -- and it's all thanks to my nose for letting me know.
I think I will keep this sample and use it very occasionally, on days when I have envy that needs fending off. For the record, the perfume is Burberry Summer for Women, the original rather than the 2009 version.
I, too, have been diminished by jealousy. I, too, have been crumpled into a fetal ball after a beloved friend’s dismissal. I, too, have broken into an ex’s apartment and prominently re-displayed old pictures of us happy together, to freak out his new girlfriend. (Wait, you didn’t do that?)
I’m always fascinated by the power of scent to seduce, to manipulate, to repulse. People use perfume to enchant, but in your case, disenchantment was the desired effect.
Just be careful that your other superpower isn’t staying stuck in your attachment to the old drama. I'm happy to hear that smelling your ex-friend’s crappy old Burberry has broken the spell, but now you need to put that hair of the dog away and pour yourself a new perfume.
Sometimes, the thing you're stuck on isn't the person herself, but the emotions that swirled in the air when you were with her. Or the person you were when you were friends. But whatever you do, don’t start stalking the old you. The old you will never return the new you’s calls. Take it from me...the new me, that is.
P.S. Read this moving essay on the iron grip of a beloved's perfume in Invisible Magnet. (Oh Invisible Magnet -- where did you guys go?)