All of you in regular receipt of The Dandy’s Scented Letters will know that a perfume normally inspires in me images and tales, some drawn from experience, others from the past, a majority from the imagination, others from involuntary emotional response.
I have to tell you that, in all frankness and with great gratitude, The Dandy has never been anywhere lived through anything, experienced any sensation or felt any emotion that fully equates to the current incarnation of Calvin Klein’s Obsession.
I have not imagined, even in my Halloween nightmares, anything that quite equates to this horror.
Nor do I ever wish to.
This rancorous confection explodes into a room like cheap drugstore oriental pot pourri spilling forth from its cellophane gift wrap. Suddenly everywhere is synthetic spices and desiccated, no plasticised fake flower petals all competing for their share of the olfactory action.
At every attempt to get the hideous play perfume stuff back into the bag merely results in the malodorous miasma reaching out further into space.
Have a caution though, dear reader, for it is worse, far worse than that….
The opening is an awful admixture of cheap air freshner and the sickly sweet smell of the vomit of a child who’s been stuffed with too much candy. The stink that the stupid deodorizer was trying to cover up in the first place merely amplified by the artificial presence.
And at this moment The Dandy raises a silk handkerchief to his moist brow, furrowed by painful recollection… I have remembered.
There was a time, a place.
An EgyptAir flight returning to London from Luxor at some unearthly hour.
Nothing by way of inflight entertainment barring a juddering, decades old VHS that desecrates the beauties of this magnificent country with its luridly coloured cheap camera shots and harsh jangling soundtrack turned up way too loud.
It is plays again and again on a loop, every twenty six minutes we re-enter the same circle of hell afresh.
We are recovering from the mandatory fumigation of the cabin courtesy of our none to courteous crew when…
A plume of projectile vomit erupts from a small though rotund child two rows in front and to my left.
It is the boy I had seen eating nougat throughout our four hour delay in the cramped, sweaty, tent-like departure lounge.
It sprays down the aisle and lands with a wet thud on the threadbare carpet and then sits there, glaring at us, challenging us to take it on.
After an initial flurry the stewardesses decide that their manicured hands are no match for this freshly minted monster. They elect to delicately, almost ladylike, lay paper towels over the offending excretion and ignore it.
Well not quite ignore it. After some rattling in the galley and much conversation a massive ancient canister, the size of a small fire extinguisher emerges and the hostesses pull the trigger.
Its vile gas is immersed into the sealed container in which we are now held hostage to these olafactory terrorists.
The first time this happens, dear reader, The Dandy himself is very nearly sick.
I vainly try to distract myself by attempting to pick out the notes of the gas from those of the juvenile puke.
Spices, anonymous and cloying, sweetness, exactly like the regurgitated nougat it is attempting to conceal, assorted over-ripe fruits.
It is a cut price, dayglo, distant cousin to vintage Tabu; produced in great vats and forgotten about in dusty corners until occasions like this arise…
Once more into the breach. For each time the noxious chemical odour subsides out come our faithful fumigators to odorise us once more.
Approximately every 18 minutes.
For the next five hours.
When we land, everyone stands before we are allowed, in truth before we’ve fully touched down.
Cabin fever has set in.
A scramble for luggage and then when the door opens a surge, almost as forceful as the semi-digested fluid from the unfortunate youngster’s mouth.
We have to be released.
In the airport and all the way home The Dandy couldn’t, and not for want of trying friends, remove the stench. Even after bathing and a night’s sleep something horrible in every way, a sickly secretion, seemed to seep from me.
So, I thank you, Obsession.
You have ‘helped’ The Dandy unearth a memory so painful, so vile that I’d buried it so deep to never have to remember it again.
Now, Obsession, all I want to do is forget you.
By way of explanation, chers amis, this recherche was spurred by the Eau de Parfum that is retailing in the United Kingdom at reputable shops and at ludicrously cut prices at some drugstore chains.
I can’t comment on vintage or other formulations, my memories of them are of over powering and overwhelming scents, of which my mother and other female friends took a very dim view.
Such is my devotion to you that I tried no fewer than six examples at which my will, indeed my will to live evaporated.
Oh but that the perfume had so quickly done the same.
The Dandy could describe the notes in more detail but, please, I beg you no more torture. Suffice it to say this is a journey into the twilight and beyond.
As for silage, too long, way too long, like a bout of recurrent nausea.
Now, I must rest.
The Perfumed Dandy.