Everything Is Relative

He didn’t feel comfortable. Not comfortable at all. He had never bought anything from that type of stores before. But it was her birthday. So he sighed deeply end entered.

“Hello Mr. Stone! Or do you prefer Tom?” a bright-eyed, professionally exuberant shopping assistant smiled at him.

Some of his friends though it was spiffy when kids addressed them by their first names so he went along with that but he could never understand the idea of complete strangers’ familiarity, “Mr. Stone is fine.”

“Mr. Stone, I’m Cindy; I will be your Scent Guide today. Are you looking for something new for yourself?”

“I need to buy a gift… A perfume…” he paused trying to collect the thoughts: everything he saw looked a little strange and not the way he remembered or expected.

“Would you like to try the newest flavor from PepsiCo?” she made a slight move towards the stand on her left.

“No-no, I don’t need the newest…” A couple of times when he brought her something a sales assistant persuaded him “everybody is crazy about”, she thanked him with a polite smile but later, as if without connection to anything, she would go on and on: “I don’t understand why they try to re-invent the wheel: my favorite perfume was just perfect – why did they have to discontinue it?!”

“Oh, I see, Mr. Stone,” the girl smiled understandingly. “Here, Blanc Noir is one of the best sellers for the last couple of years. It’s a truly unisex composition and it’s very popular with our customers.”

“Sorry, Cindy, I didn’t explain it right… I’m looking for the special perfume. I need…” he chuckled apologetically. “Of course, now I can’t remember the name… Wait… I have it somewhere… somewhere… Right! Here it is.”

She looked at the name blankly and paused looking at the surface in front of her; then a flicker of recognition appeared in her eyes but was quickly replaced with almost disdain, “Oh, it’s an “old lady” perfume…” she burst out, then stopped herself and tried to recover, “I mean, nobody uses this one any more…”

“My mom is 70, so I think she would qualify,” he smiled for the first time.

“Of course, Mr. Stone. I’m sorry. Just a second, I’ll start your order,” she re-applied the cheerful smile to her lips. “What application form does your mother prefer? Do you want it as a drink, pill, food supplement or a patch?

“I need a perfume…” he felt as if they were speaking different languages.

“You mean, you want it in its historical form, in a bottle?” she tried very hard not to sound surprised.

“Yes, please!” he made an effort not to get annoyed telling himself that it was just a usual arrogance of youth.

“Here’s your order summary. Please check the price and your payment credentials. We scanned your biometric information at the beginning of the session but you know how those systems are sometimes…”

“Everything looks correct.”

“Great! We’re almost done,” her smile was shining exactly the way it was in the beginning of his visit. “Please make sure your 4-D printer is on. When ready, just say “Deliver!” or use OK gesture. I’ll stay online until your order is delivered.”

“Thank you, Cindy. You’ve been helpful.”

“Thank you for shopping with us, Mr. Stone! I hope to see you again soon.”

He fiddled with the bottle for a while: it looked very similar to those he saw on his mother’s dresser when he grew up. He didn’t remember the scent but hoped she would like it as much as the perfume the memory of which she loved.

V&R Bonbon

This fantasy came from my thinking on the topic after reading “old lady perfume” musings of one of the young(er) bloggers (yes, believe it or not, there are some people who consider themselves perfumistas and still use that term!) And though I’m still some years away from qualifying, for some reason it bothered me enough to create that story. It must be age-related.


34 thoughts on “Everything Is Relative

  1. Excellent Undina. WOW! Imagine how dedicated you’d have to be to a scent to take a pill and have it come out your pores like rum or garlic?
    Old Lady Perfumes are among my favourites, as you well know. Sometimes it’s fun to tell the SA they are for me.
    Portia xx


    • Thank you, Portia (I’d love to see a face of those SAs! ;-) )

      I’m sure technology of the future will manage to create ingestible perfumes that disappear from your system as modern perfumes disappear from your skin ; -)


  2. Off with her badge! ;-) no, seriously, I’m with you, how can someone writing about perfume still in all honesty use that term. I like your reaction though, nice story.


  3. So creative, Undina! And it reads like a send-up of purchasing perfume (which can sometimes be a long process depending on where you go and the sales associates). I’m imagining perfume as a food supplement… would it have to be a gourmand? haha. I won’t lie, there are some perfumes that smell so enticing, I could imagine drinking a cocktail made of the same ingredients.


    • Thank you, Caitlin. I’m doing too much shopping, including online, so it was harder to step aside from today’s experiences and try to fantasize how it will be in 50 years. People’s behavior will change perhaps not as drastically as technology.
      Hmm… Perfume-inspired cocktail isn’t such a bad idea…


  4. “We scanned your biometric information at the beginning of the session”
    Futuristic perfume shopping, LOL!
    I hope tha never in the future having perfume in a bottle form would be old-school or out of fasion. I’d rather have it in a bottle than as a beverage or food flavor :P


  5. Haha, scary vision…I note that she didn’t offer him an e-cig format. ;). Maybe patches will have supplanted those by then.

    And it seems likely that PepsiCo will have a finger in every consumer pie some day. Me, I’ll stick with historical forms, even if that also makes me an ‘old lady’. :)


  6. If “old lady” means smelling like my incredible (now 95) year old mum who still wears Youth Dew, 4711 and Shalimar, then I’ll take it. I inherited all of my grandma’s perfume collection several decades ago – chock full of what would probably be termed old lady frags – and what an amazing collection it is. I wonder if aforementioned young blogger would refer to Chanel No 5 as an old lady perfume – after all, Marilyn would certainly qualify as such as, being 88 if she were still alive…


    • He seems to label that way floral perfumes: “It’s soliflores and bouquets that scream:

      In general, it doesn’t matter which perfumes got into that category: I object to the existence of that category.


  7. I loved your story! :)
    Such imaginative thinking of the future. Probably very accurate too.

    And I don’t think you qualify as a perfumista (perhaps a very newbie one) if you use the phrase “old lady perfume”. I would probably qualify as an old lady then what with my love of Shalimar…


  8. Hello dearest Undina, this is a wonderful way to let out your frustration :-)

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we can bring a drop of a our favorite perfume and the “biometrics” is done on it instead of on the person? SA not required, just you and the perfume copy machine!

    I was thinking about your use of PepsiCo given the dearth of companies that don’t yet have a perfume. PepsiCo used to own a fast foods division that was spun off to become what is now known as Yum! Brands Inc. (formerly known as Tricon Global Restaurants but what a boring name). Anyway, guess what fast food chain is part of Yum! ???? Pizza Hut! That’s right – the progenitor of Eau de Pizza.


  9. I enjoyed this! I loved the idea of perfumes by Pepsi; that doesn’t seem too far off.

    Whenever I see a young person talk about “old lady” perfumes (ESPECIALLY a self-described “perfumista”,) I want an umbrella I can tap on the floor so I can say “Young lady (or young man): Do not use that term pejoratively. When I wear that perfume what it indicates to the world is that I am more knowledgeable, more sophisticated, more experienced, and richer than you.”


  10. I loved this post! When I got to the Viktor & Rolf Bon Bon, I laughed out loud.

    Hooray for old lady perfumes. Anyone who says that is an idiot. I don’t think youth can be an excuse. Those young perfumistas decrying old lady perfumes probably don’t realize that when they are 70, the fragrances they loved in their 20’s and continue to wear, will smell like old lady to the next generation.

    Another thing that irks me about sales people? When they say, “But that’s a MAN’S fragrance!”


    • Thank you, Daisy. I’m so not familiar with the current mainstream releases that it took me a while to find a proper perfume for the story finale.

      I think it’s funny when sales people instead of making their commissions (or just doing their job if they are salaried) by selling a customer whatever he/she wants try to enlighten them regarding who that perfume was designated for by marketing people.


  11. Oh no! I didn’t mean to upset anyone with my post, sorry if you were upset by it Undina! You made good use of the energy by putting it into this story though :)

    I like the pill/patch idea and would certainly try it if available, I hope the next technological step for fragrance is to be able to adjust longevity and projection regardless of scent(I could have L’Humaniste last all day!).
    You talked about a patch that only the wearer could smell. That’s a cool idea, I think that could be nice for some frags but most of mine I want others to smell on me too.



    • Hi Andy! I realized that you didn’t mean to insult anybody – so, as you could notice, I didn’t name names or give a link. But sometimes things sound to others not the way we hear them in our heads or intend to express.

      In general, I prefer others to smell my perfumes. But for some situations – airplanes, concerts or small board rooms – such delivery mechanism where you scent only yourself might be handy.


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