I do not love thee, Doctor Fell
The reason why, I cannot tell,
But this I know, and know full well,
I do not love thee, Doctor Fell.
My father, who was an old school Virginian and fond of a peaceable dinner table, used to stop nascent disagreements by saying, “De gustibus non est disputandem”. There’s no arguing over taste, and once he said that, we had to drop our heated discussion of Disco vs Punk, or whatever other nonsense had popped into our chuckle heads that day.
Sometimes I will come across a perfume that is clearly cleverly composed, stable, and possessed of finesse, or longevity, or whatever it is that lifts one perfume over the enormous crowd of also-rans, and that is becoming very popular, and will just dislike the heck out of it.
I know it’s not the perfume. What is it? It’s the same phenomenon that made a prominent Victorian lady (Frances Trollope, I think?) ask someone please to explain the jokes in The Pickwick Papers to her. She was shut out of a giant party that Britain was enjoying in 1835, whirling with crinolined and pantalooned abandon around the book, and it was completely incomprehensible to her.
I feel her pain. With many perfumes, the same thing happens to me. By the way, I’m not talking here about the mainstream releases. I know I’m not going to like most of them, and when I do: Bottega Veneto, or Sensuous Noir, or Martin Margiela’s Untitled, I know that they are oddball scents, and will probably be called that by the majority of reviewers.
No, my real trouble is with the mini-hits of the perfume world, picked up and dandled by one blogger and reviewer after the other. Then I will smell whatever it is, and either I don’t think it’s good (and stick by this) or I know it’s good – but I still don’t get it.
A case in point was de Nicolai’s Le Temps d’un Fête. Everyone adored it in the world of perfume blogging. Le Temps turned up regularly on lists of everyone’s favorite Spring Perfumes (these appear every year, like robins on front lawns) and usually I will find one commenter or another who will have Le Temps on theirs. Le Temps is indeed, remarkably green.
This aversion resurfaced recently when I received yet another sample of L T (from Luckyscent, as I had bought a lone bottle of a de Nicolai scent I do like, Nicolai Pour Homme). Well, it can’t have been that bad, said I. Everyone else likes it, my brain pointed out, and several of the everyones know what they are talking about. “Oh, come on, stop being such a baby” said my super ego.
So I cracked the sample open, and there it was, the same scent I remembered. My mental image is of a tulle scrub brush in bright green, swabbing out my nose. Ouch. It hurts, frankly. I re-capped the sample, and after trying to wear Le Temps for two miserable hours, promptly gave it away.
Now in a logical world, this would not happen. Le Temps is a green floral, and I am always off-gassing about green florals, and how there are not enough of them out there. It contains galbanum and opoponax, jasmine and narcissus, sandalwood and oakmoss, patchouli and wood notes, materials that in the ordinary way, I love.
So why do I dislike this elegant, sophisticated, dry perfume with its great galbanum lifting top notes like wings, so much? Because to me, the wings are bumblebee wings and the actions is up and down, buzz, buzz, and my nostrils are irritated. Oh Lawd, get this stuff away from me now!
We are dealing, folks, with one of the most unpredictable things on earth – a visceral reaction. The truth is that Le Temps is Doctor Fell to me. Le Temps, Titanic, and Brussels Sprouts are beyond my coping skills. Nope. Just can’t do it. This particular joke is on me.
What’s your most irrational perfume aversion?