In common with many people who once upon a time attended parochial school, I have a very curious selection of memories. One regarded the (prohibited) candy we ingested then. My school was very elegant and situated in a suburb of Rome, and we were all expected to behave like little ladies.
Oh well, it must have been a desperate repetition of hope over experience for the nuns. We never really behaved like ladies. Whether it was at Mass when Sister would lean across three girls’ laps to slap the fourth girl on the leg because she was sprawdling during Father’s sermon, or sending another girl home because she was wearing panty-hose under her knee socks, or whether Sister had detected licorice on someone’s breath during English Composition, we none of us ever behaved like ladies. Hooligans, yes; shakedown artists, yes; squealers and grasses, absolutely. But ladies? Never.
As to the odd candy, we favored a truly horrific kind of licorice pellet that came in a Kelly green tin box called, I believe, Bongo Mints. They were foul. They tainted the breath, induced a Red Bull like hyperactivity, and turned the tongue and saliva black. We were told in no uncertain terms never to ingest these frightful confections and naturally they became a food group for us.
I remember vividly that Sister once caught me by breaking her routine and moving diagonally across the classroom to make a casual inquiry about a compound-complex sentence while I had a mouthful of the things. When her queries about the main verb went unanswered she swiped me upside the head and I spewed black spit all over the desk top. I don’t believe either of us ever really lived it down.
This makes the current crop of licorice perfumes difficult for me. Is, say, Lolita Lempicka an interesting arresting scent? Undoubtedly, but it is Eau de Bongo for me, and therefore unwearable. Equally Guerlain Homme is a fine perfume, but impossible, for there is a distinct bongo drydown after the mojito cocktail evaporates. Not for me. The relatively civilized Eau de Reglisse, has a bongoish note to it that puts it beyond the pale for one, although it’s probably the most refined of the perfumes listed here.
Even, dare I say it, the current formulation of Apres L’Ondee, has that note wafting along, and even though I know it’s aniseed and not the dreaded black licorice, I smell it, and a faint suspicion that I should call Poison Control passes through my head.
Association, it seems, is everything, in human relations, politics, and perfumery.