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Photo Credit-Louise Docker

Photo Credit: Louise Docker

Just the other day, I purchased my winter perfume. Yes, winter perfume. I now have two signature scents. One for spring/summer, the other for autumn/winter. I am peculiar like that. My Suitor accompanied me on this visitation to the perfumery, partially against his will. We contemplated fifteen or twenty different scents. Not in a graceful, cultured sort of manner, but more along the realities of gagging, bulging eyes, choking, watering eyes, and occasional wheezing. By the time we departed the store, I was a bit light-headed and reeked of combating fragrances. The trip was a success and I left carry my purchase in one hand, and holding My Suitor’s hand in the other.

While incense, oils, and perfumes have been around since the dawn of civilization, they were originally used for religious reasons. Egyptians have recorded the use of oils to embalm the dead and light incense to assist the spirit’s journey to the Other Side. The word perfume comes from the Latin per fumum meaning “through smoke.” Before long, the upper echelons of society were using perfumes for their own personal uses. Due to the time-consuming labor and sheer quantity of resources required to make a vial of perfume, only the upper class could afford such luxuries. The art of concocting scents was in high demand.

By the time the 19th century rolled around, the haute perfumeries were established in France. Naturally. The English Victorians, who collectively did not bathe routinely for fear of contaminated water, used perfumes as a means to ameliorate their natural odors. Initially, they did want to conceal their own scent for it was considered a means of attraction. This issue is still not resolved in present day. Some claim it is important for the pheromons to be released, for the “chemistry” or chemical attraction to truLY play a part. Others believe such notions are appalling and any hint of natural body oder is unacceptable. The English of the Victorian era did not go quite so far. Even if a person was cloaked in perfume, some other person present was bound not to be. Given the penchant for large gathering, one can only imagine how rank the room would be. This lack of fresh air was only compounded by the tight corsets and general pollution of the London atmosphere, it is not wonder why so many fainted; aside from the ladylike and fashionable implications. Yet I digress.

Perfumes are in everything from the obvious, bath and beauty products, to unobvious, such as fabric and unscented things. Ironic, is it not? We interact with a high level fragrance on a daily basis. Perfumes are as individual as they are intimate. Likewise our bodies chemistry reacts differently on each person. The same fragrance can smell heavenly on one person and smell like putrid rubbing alcohol on another. Perfume can also irritate the epidermis, as anyone with sensitive skin can attest to. Certain scents can cause headaches, even seizures, while others can revive a unconscienous person. For anyone who works with adolescents can confirm, there is something rather nauseating about hormonal teenagers drenched in perfume or cologne. This stems from the cloud that stays in the room long after the occupant has vacated.  Whew! It is enough to make my eyes water.

This is why I require my signature scents to be subtle. The only people who shall smell them are those who lean in for an embrace; namely My Suitor and Buttons, my geriatric special needs canine. What can I say, I like a bit of mystery.