In my madcap life, I’ve seen more cocktail receptions than a dried-up cheese ball. I attended yet another soiree at a very “distinctive” hotel in Minneapolis the other night. It was just one more in a series that week. I was enmeshed in ennui.
I was rushed, and didn’t have time to splash on my usual fragrance. Like any elegant inn worth its chandeliers, this one had a Parfum Shoppe in the lobby. With just minutes to go before the event began, I darted in.
“Quick,” I said to the salesclerk, “I need a spritz.”
“You’ve come to the right place,” she said.
She started to point me toward an array of testers on the counter when I noticed someone staring at me. It was the shop owner, who, I suspect, reads palms on the weekends. She eyed me carefully, then approached me. In her best exotic yet nondescript foreign accent, she asked, “Vot are you using now?”
“Chanel No. 5,” I replied.
She rolled her eyes: “Ken ve graduate you?”
How could I refuse? Her assistant made a few futile attempts to find just the right one.
“What do you think of this one?” I queried, offering Madame Scent the top of my still moist hand.
“No magic,” she deadpanned, shaking her head.
“No magic,” parroted the assistant.
Taking another gander at my goods, the owner gave me a sly smile, saying, “You look like you’re full of mischief. I hev just the thing for you.”
She stepped up on a stool, and reached for a solid glass bottle balancing precariously at the top of her window display. The lights hit each angle of the unusually shaped container, giving it the appearance of a lightening shower. I kept thinking of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
“I must varn you,” she cautioned. “This comes with a great deal of responsibility. It is a mixture of chocolate and berries and other vonderful things. It vill make you edible. I tell those few who can vear it that they must use a condom. It’s that dangerous.”
At that moment, I actually felt like I was ovulating! But, before I could just say no, she drenched my neck, and, pulling back the front of my dress, continued her maniacal mist across my bosom.
“What is it?” I asked.
“Angel,” she responded.
“Yes?” I replied, thinking I’d already made an impact on her.
“That’s the name of the parfum,” she corrected me. “Angel.”
“Oh,” I blushed.
She instructed me to stand before the giant fan in the corner of the store: “These things take time. It usually takes days to fully discover its magic. But, you’re in a hurry.”
I stood shamelessly before the whirling machine, my hair blowing wantonly in the wind. Before I could say “Prince Matchabelli,” she twirled me around, and pushed me toward the door.
“Go,” she ordered. “Go, and be vonderful. But bevare!”
As I exited the store, a young woman entered.
“What is that?” she asked me.
“It’s me,” I answered with a newfound power.
“But it’s not you,” Madame quickly admonished the new customer, giving me a knowing wink across her shoulder.
I sauntered in to the reception, feeling vulnerable yet powerful. Conversations seemed to pause in midsentence. Heads began to turn.
The compliments came at me like tennis balls from a practice machine: Had I lost weight? Did I have a new hairstyle? Have I been working out? Was I wearing a Wonderbra? (Some people can be so catty.)
None of these were true, however warranted.
One man stood out from the crowd.
“I love your cologne,” he dared.
“I love your chili peppers,” I countered, noticing his one-of-a-kind tie.
His head wafting in my brazen bouquet, he suddenly blurted, “I’m ravenous.”
“Of course,” I responded breathlessly.
Our hands brushed, as he reached for the chocolate-covered berries, and I for the stuffed jalapeños.
But, of course, consider the source.
Bye for now.