Sometime in grade school I went to the five and dime and bought my first bottle of perfume, Blue Waltz. It cost me a whole quarter and the first time I wore it a classmate commented, "Oh, Blue Waltz! Yuck, how cheap." Not the response I'd hoped for.
Years later, in junior high school, I moved up to Evening in Paris, which wasn't even sold in five and dimes. You could only get it at Eckerd. I felt like I'd really come up in the world, especially when no one said I smelled cheap. But then, no one seemed to say anything at all.
As time went on, I experimented with trendy scents the rich girls were wearing: Ambush, Taboo, Windsong and Chantilly. Some got compliments, some didn't. I was no science wiz, but I wondered if it might have something to do with body chemistry. What I suspected back then has since been confirmed. To be noticed, the chemistry has to click.
In college I discovered Muguet de Bois (French for Lily of the Valley,) which attracted compliments like a magnet, but before I graduated disappeared from the shelves.
After trying dozens of other perfumes that for me made no scents, a gift of Cachet turned out to be a perfect match. But unfortunately, it, too, disappeared. Soon after, an Avon lady gave me a free sample of Brocade. It was like it was custom formulated just for me. I wore it so well, until it too, was discontinued.
After years of hit or miss, my husband bought me Cher's Uninhibited. When I wore it, it almost seemed like men went out of their way to ask me what I was wearing. But as with all the others, the product vanished. I was starting to get really paranoid. Why was it that the perfumes that made me smell pretty were all discontinued? Is my body chemistry so weird that I was the only one purchasing them?
I was back to squirting and sniffing samplers at the mall until last year when a friend at church smelled so good that I mentioned it to my husband. "Whatever she's wearing, I wonder if it would work for me?"
He asked her what it was and bought it for me for Christmas. And he couldn't resist mentioning that this perfume, Joy, is the most expensive in the world. But he thought I was worth it. How sweet, yet sad, because I still never got a compliment on it. Until last week.
I was subbing at Trickum Middle School and the kids were researching on the Internet. I stood between two little girls as they surfed the Web, and they simultaneously started ooing and awing over how beautiful my perfume smelled.
"You smell prettier than my mom, and she wears White Shoulders," said one. "Ooooh, you smell just like Tootsie Rolls!" said the other.
Susan Larson is a Lilburn resident. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.