Scent of a Woman

It’s funny how a whiff of a certain scent can transport you in time. Does that happen to you?

My first perfume was Wind Song by Prince Matchabelli. I was a sophomore in high school, with my first real boyfriend whom I knew couldn’t forget me because my Wind Song stayed on his mind, and also because I visited his house every day after school.

Wind Song was followed by flirtations with Jean Nate and Jovan Musk. There was a summer when Chanel Cristalle wafted through the air around me thanks to a neglected sample bottle I discovered on the mantle of my mother’s fireplace.

Looking back, my perfumes all had one thing in common: They were free, either borrowed from the women around me or given to me as gifts. I was an opportunistic lover of scents but unlikely to spend my hard-earned minimum wage on smelling a certain way, although I do remember one period of my life when I was obsessed with the smell of SafeGuard and another when the application of Johnson’s Baby Lotion was a daily ritual. As I got older and my income allowed, I tried a number of perfumes but I never found a signature scent. I’m much too fickle to stick with one thing for too long and besides, I like how the whiff of a forgotten scent can bring back memories of younger days.

I haven’t been attached to a specific scent for well over a decade. I think a dab of lavender oil on each wrist in my early forties was the last time I showed any consistency in that respect. Now, I wonder, how will I mark these most recent years without a scent to remember them by? What smell will attach them to my memory? I think possibly the smells from my kitchen will do the trick; weekend pancakes, eggs and bacon, Sunday spaghetti sauce, weekday stew, and my family’s most favorite scent of all, the one that seduces every time, a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies.

What scents take you back? Or are you more likely to be transported by a favorite song?

Chicken out





  15 comments for “Scent of a Woman

  1. November 15, 2017 at 4:57 pm

    Songs for sure, but Jergens original and I’m four years old at my grandmother’s.

    Liked by 1 person

    • November 16, 2017 at 1:47 am

      Hi Joanne-Wow, that’s a good one. You remember that? I’m not sure I can go back that far. Did you ever read the book, “The Secret Life of Bees”? I don’t think I finished it, but I recall a part where a young girl is trying to find the perfume that her mother wore and she couldn’t find it anywhere until she discovered that it wasn’t a perfume at all-it was Pond’s Cold Cream. My mom used that, too, and I did like the smell of it. I still use it.


  2. November 15, 2017 at 5:29 pm

    Safe Guard did smell good. I used Obsession in my forties and nothing since. Now I use nothing. Remember Evening in Paris in the blue bottle?


    • November 16, 2017 at 1:52 am

      Safe Guard still smells good! I remember Obsession and Midnight in Paris. Obsession reminds me of cologne commercials. Do you have a favorite one? I have to say I really like the Invictus one. I could not have told you what the name of the cologne was, though. That’s a great example of marketing that’s a little too clever. The visual is so entertaining that you don’t pay any attention to the information.


  3. Doug in Oakland
    November 15, 2017 at 9:37 pm

    I gave my sister a bottle of Wind Song for Christmas one year when I was a little kid because of the commercial you quote from. I don’t think she liked it that much.
    I, of course, have the different periods of my life attached to the music I listened to at the time, which has always presented a challenge: how to not let horrible events forever ruin the music I listened to while they happened. Let’s just say that my record is hit and miss on that one.
    But scents can totally transport me to the time I have them associated with. When I was living in the old foundry building, one time I heard a little motorcycle pass by in the main corridor outside our door, and a few seconds later the scent hit me like a ton of bricks: Blendzall. Blendzall is a special racing oil for two-stroke engines which require the oil to be mixed with the fuel, and the smell it leaves when burned in the engine is heavenly, and instantly transported me back to my childhood and the magic I felt when I would go watch the motorcycle races at Redwood Acres in Eureka.
    I still remember the first time I used Blendzall in my little 100cc Yamaha. It felt like I had finally arrived. I was twelve. I think it smells that way because it’s made from castor beans.
    The scent of garlic browning in a pan with butter and a dash of hot sauce has a wide-ranging area of time pinned to it for me, mostly the five years I worked as a line cook at The Buttercup in Berkeley, but also some of the various kitchens in the places I have lived afterwards, when I brought my cooking skills home and tried them out.
    And the smell of pine trees and water on a sunny day transports me back to one of the rivers in the National Forests beside which I spent large, wonderful chunks of my childhood.
    Oh, and girls, too. But I don’t find myself being reminded of them specifically very much any more.


    • November 16, 2017 at 2:04 am

      Hi Doug, those are some good ones-garlic and pine trees…I have good memories attached to both. The Blendzall one I had to look up. I’ve never heard of it. If I ever see a bottle of it, I’m going to sneak a whiff just so I know what you are talking about. The smell of gas on a cold night takes me reminds me of snowmobiling with my uncle as a kid. I’d stay over night at my cousin’s and he’d take us out all day. I’d whine about being cold and he’d tease me. I miss him.


      • Doug in Oakland
        November 16, 2017 at 5:46 am

        Just to be clear: Blendzall doesn’t smell like anything in the bottle, it only smells good after being burned in an engine. Which is why the motorcycle races smelled like it.
        I’ve never driven a snowmobile. It sounds cold.


      • November 16, 2017 at 11:50 am

        Ohhhh. Darn. Well, I guess I’ll have to find a good motorcycle race somewhere then. Snowmobile riding is cold but that is why they invented snowmobile suits:-) I haven’t gone snowmobiling since I was a kid and I don’t think I appreciated as much then but I fondly recall it now. We don’t get snow as much where I live now, but where I’m from, it’s a given from December to April


  4. November 16, 2017 at 1:54 am

    Aviance was my signature scent in my college years/early 20s, and I did have a lot of “Aviance nights” as the commercials promised. A couple years ago, I went searching for it and found an unopened bottle on eBay, which I bought. Talk about a scent transporting one back in time. I suddenly had a hankering for Lambrusco on the rocks, a lighted dance floor, disco ball, and a DJ playing “Brick House.”


    • November 16, 2017 at 2:07 am

      Oh my God, Paulette, Lambrusco on the Rocks! I could tell you some stories….I’m sure you could tell me some, too:-) I don’t remember Aviance-I’ll have to look it up. I do remember the disco and Brick House, though. Drinking white wine instead of Lambrusco out of a wine glass instead of a coffee mug and feeling very sophisticated. I was so not very sophisticated.


  5. jenny_o
    November 16, 2017 at 2:52 am

    I was given a hand cream a couple of years ago that smelled just like an Avon peach cream sachet I had when I was a teen – that was a lovely surprise to smell that. I think the smell that takes me “back” more than any other is the smell of hospital dispenser soap. I used it every day for over seven months when my dad was in the hospital after his stroke, waiting to receive placement at a nursing home. I have various appointments at our hospital and always need to stop and use the facilities (tiny bladder!), and one whiff of the soap and those months are back in my head. But my dad is there along with them, so it’s a good/bad kind of thing.

    I enjoyed this post! The comments were excellent too.


    • November 16, 2017 at 11:47 am

      Thanks Jenny-that hospital dispenser soap takes me back to school because they used a similar soap in the restrooms there. And yes-mixed memories:-) What other smells remind you of your dad but in an all good way? For me, it’s probably walking into to a fragrant kitchen because he was the cook in the family, but the smell of a Christmas tree brings him back, too, because he loved Christmas so much.


      • jenny_o
        November 16, 2017 at 6:18 pm

        I tried to think of something that brings back only good memories but couldn’t – there are lots of things that remind me of him but they all still make me tear up. The last years of his life were just so hard for him and it still breaks my heart. Maybe some day. I’m glad you have good memories to associate with your father.


      • November 16, 2017 at 6:52 pm

        Aw. I understand. It takes a long time to grieve for a parent. Mine passed in 2010. Everything made me cry for awhile.


  6. jenny_o
    November 17, 2017 at 1:22 am

    Thanks, Chicken. Your understanding made me cry. (That’s a good thing, in case you were wondering.)

    Liked by 1 person

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