Thursday, September 29, 2016

Every Woman Alive

AFTER I POURED THE PERFUME
DOWN THE DRAIN.
When My Mother The Dowager Duchess was in hospital for her back surgery during the summer of 2015 and I spent my "down-time" cleaning her apartment, I noticed a full bottle of Chanel Number 5 perfume sitting on a shelf in her bathroom. The label was brown with age, as was the perfume. The bottle had sat on a shelf in my mother's bathroom my entire life. When I was visiting her that day, I finally asked about it.

"Your father brought that from Paris for me when he came back from the war," she explained. "I hated that scent, so I would never use it."

"Over the next 39 years, until the day he died, he never asked you why you didn't use it?" I asked.

"Oh, I immediately told him I hated Chanel No 5," she said.

And, as if it made perfect sense, she told me, "I didn't want to hurt his feelings [um, too late] by throwing it away."

So, she instead placed it in plain view on a display shelf in their shared bathroom.

And there it remained for nearly 70 years.

EVERY WOMAN ALIVE WANTS CHANEL NUMBER 5? REALLY???

34 comments:

  1. I was just getting very verklempt and then the punch!
    Your mother obviously had her own take on the whole situation.
    I hope you saved this vintage bottle, Mitchell. But I totally understand if you didn't.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jim:
      I couldn't GIVE the vintage bottle away. They are very common around there and even eBay had dozens for sale (with no takers) and in perfect condition in original box!

      Delete
  2. Mitchel was perfume in a good condition

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    1. Gosia:
      The perfume was dark brown and musty smelling. I don't think it was meant to age for 70 years.

      Delete
  3. I can tell you that my dearly beloved does like it either!

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    Replies
    1. Heron:
      My sister loved it and actually told me to buy her a bottle duty free in 1973 when I flew from New York to London to visit her. She didn't tell me it would cost me $60 (a month's rent at the time)!!! If I had known my mother's story, I might have nabbed hers!

      Delete
  4. I know my wife has held on to gifts for forty years that she didn't like.

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    Replies
    1. Stephen:
      Oh, I have so many stories about my mother to share!

      Delete
  5. I don't like chanel #5 either. but then again, I am allergic to most fragrances.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. anne marie:
      I love men's fragrances. Women's do nothing for me (hmmm....).

      Delete
  6. I love that story ... it wasn't the perfume, it was the gift that she loved.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bob:
      Never one for appreciating the spirit of a gift, my mother I'm sure simply held onto it out of guilt.

      Delete
  7. God how stupid we all are in our own sweet ways.

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    Replies
    1. Rachel:
      I feel like the TV ad, "But, wait, there's more!!!" I have so many stories to come.

      Delete
  8. I think Bob S. is right... she kept it for the thought behind the gift.

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    Replies
    1. Sharon:
      And THAT is a very nice thought. Unfortunately, I knew my mother only too well. She kept it out of guilt.

      Delete
  9. Lord, my great aunts have worn it for years and still do. My grandmother always worn 5, 19, and 22 for different moods. Since we were very close, they always remind me of her. When she passed, I took the three bottles, emptied the remaining contents, and use them as a single stem bud base in the bathroom.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. mistress maddie:
      Great idea for reusing. The musty 70-year-old fragrance that belched from the bottle when I opened it was not conducive to retaining any memory.

      Delete
  10. Lots of ways to interpret that vignette from DD's life. Our reactions to smells are so deeply personal.

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    1. Wilma:
      I just wonder how my father felt all those years.

      Delete
  11. This one touches my heart - not only because it's a sweet and twisted story, but because my mom adored Chanel No. 5.

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    Replies
    1. Robyn:
      That was my mother -- sometimes sweet and sometimes twisted. I'm glad it brings back the "sweet" memories of your mother.

      Delete
  12. This was my Mom's scent and to this day I see her when I happen upon the scent.

    My Mom detested "Joy" so I guess our Moms knew what they liked.

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    Replies
    1. Ron:
      My mother definitely knew what she liked and, even more, what she didn't!

      Delete
  13. Ah! The things that make a marriage work may make no sense to those outside.

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    1. Travis:
      That bottle could have driven my father crazy, but they were best friends and adored each other, so I guess he just laughed it off. Good for him. Good for them.

      Delete
  14. There are many deep layers of meaning in the bottle and story. Thank you!

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    Replies
    1. Travel:
      There certainly are. She was an unusual woman. There are more stories I can now share that she never would have appreciated the humor (or interest) in. Nothing unkind. All with loving memories.

      Delete
  15. wow what an amazing story. It made me think about all the psychological elements possible.

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    Replies
    1. Spo:
      Oh, yes, so much to think about. I knew you'd appreciate the many levels of this little story.

      Delete
  16. My Mom loved Chanel no.5 and I love the scent of it. So elegant.

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    1. Laurent:
      I don't tend to recognize women's fragrances and, given what my mother did with that bottle, never had the chance to really become familiar with Chanel No. 5!

      Delete
  17. You have to wonder what your father's reaction was - though he probably knew her and how exactly to take it.

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    Replies
    1. Willym:
      I have wondered what my father thought ever since my mother told me that story. We'll never know, although I can imagine him rolling his eyes if I would have asked him about it.

      Delete

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