Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Living the Perfume Commercial

The other night, I'd taken advantage of a commercial break to go get something from another room, and I came back to the living room in time to catch the beginning of what looked like the best romantic movie ever. I figured out pretty quickly that it had to be a Chanel No. 5 perfume commercial because they make these mini-movies that have nothing to do with the perfume, and I always wish they were real movies because I think I would love them, and I want to live in that universe. It's just too bad that I don't really like that perfume all that much, and I don't think those ads even fit that perfume.

Oddly, although I am not really a perfume person, Chanel No. 5 is one of the few perfumes I own. It's a remnant of my days working at the medical school. I worked in the public information office, and in addition to doing the usual media relations and news release kind of stuff (or the radio health feature writing I still do for them), we also had to do work related to all the school's fundraising efforts, which meant dealing with Society -- all those bold-face name, mover-and-shaker people. We had to write articles for fundraising newsletters or do news releases on the latest big gift to the school. That meant I had to go to a few of those society parties. I never really felt I fit in, since I was in my early twenties and probably earning less than the maids who worked for these people. Still, I met interesting people. For instance, in the Malcolm Gladwell book The Tipping Point, he mentions a man who is the example of the Connector, the person who seems to know everyone. I've been to a party at that man's house (so I guess he really does know everyone).

Anyway, we also got dragged into some odd things related to all this Society stuff. One day, the university president's assistant called over to our office and drafted the women in the office who were free for lunch that day. There was some luncheon fundraiser, one of those "ladies who lunch" things, and there had been some no-shows, and they wanted to fill some empty seats, so they needed warm bodies. Fortunately, I was appropriately dressed for that sort of thing, wearing my best suit. Unfortunately, the luncheon was also a Chanel fashion show, and my best suit was a sort of faux Chanel look, very much the classic Chanel style, but without the logo on the buttons. I was already a little uncomfortable because of that. And then I ended up sitting with Margot Perot (wife of erstwhile presidential candidate H. Ross). Talk about intimidated!

But she turned out to be a lovely person, very warm and friendly, and she put me at ease. It was the kind of fashion show where the models walked from table to table as we ate our fancy chicken salad, and then they'd tell us about the outfit and let us ask questions. The clothes were as bizarre as you usually get at a fashion show, and Margot Perot and I ended up having great fun snarking about the clothes between models. It was interesting to hear a billionaire's wife wondering who in their right mind would buy those things.

The party favor for the event was a miniature Chanel shopping bag with a full-sized bottle of Chanel No. 5 cologne spray in it. That probably added about 25 percent to my income for the week. I still have that bottle, barely used. It doesn't seem to have degraded any, which may have something to do with the traditional black bottle, which blocks out light. Although it's an iconic perfume, that perfume really isn't to my taste (when I even wear perfume).

After seeing that commercial the other night, I picked up my bottle and spritzed on a little. I still think it's pretty nasty right out of the bottle. It smells like a nursing home -- a mix of industrial cleaning solution and Old Lady. But it does mellow nicely. After a few hours or overnight it takes on an entirely different character. I'm still not sure it's "me" (and I can't afford for it to be "me"), but who knows, maybe if I wore it, I'd get the kind of life they have in the commercials, or at the very least it might counteract the effect of the Kitchen Cabinets of Depression and Despair. I'd just have to remember to put it on at least two hours before being around people.

The only perfume I own that I bought for myself is Stila's Creme Bouquet, which is more "me," I think. I also have a couple of Jo Malone scents that I got as gifts from my publisher. But I don't wear any of them often because most of the time when I go out, it's for church or choir, and it's really not good to wear perfume around people who have to sing, in case they're sensitive to the smell.

And it's just occurred to me that all the perfume commercials this week are related to Mother's Day. My mom's allergic to perfume, so I've never associated perfume with Mother's Day. I'm more likely to give my mom something like the Firefly DVD set.

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