Setting: A crowded perfume cabinet in the Pacific Northwest.
Monsieur Balmain (“Monsieur”): the original Pierre Balmain fragrance for men;
Monsieur Balmain (“MB”): the reformulated version of Monsieur Balmain.
Monsieur “awakes” and is startled to see a new, bright yellow bottle standing next to him on the perfume shelf.
Monsieur: Excusez-moi monsieur, we have not been introduced. Could you turn just a bit…. What? Is this a joke? MY name is Monsieur Balmain, yet “Monsieur Balmain” is written on your garish bottle! Imposter!
MB: Calmez! You’re too old for such excitement! Your label will fall off or, worse, you’ll start leaking! My name is Monsieur Balmain, and I’m the new you.
Monsieur: The new me? TOO OLD?! This is outrageous! What would Germaine think!?
MB: Germaine? Who’s he?
Monsieur: MADAME Germaine Cellier! — one of the greatest perfumers of all time! She created me in 1964. Who’s your perfumer?
MB: I have no idea. Monsieur: Let me smell you. Spray!
Monsieur: (inhaling deeply) I can barely detect your scent; spray a little longer s’il vous plait.
Monsieur: I smell we’re related, but you are so “fresh”…perhaps a bit TOO fresh?
MB: Not fair! Let me smell you!
Monsieur: Ah, my screw cap is sticking…uh...um…there we go! I am not a spray; come close and sniff my neck.
MB: (Sneezing) Not necessary! You’re so strong I can smell you over here! And, no offense, but I’m usually not attracted to old perfume bottles, so I’ll pass on the neck sniffing!
Monsieur: IMPERTINENT! I was not suggesting any layering! We’re related after all!
MB: Okay, okay! I apologize. Let’s see (inhaling) — I smell lemon…fruit…citrus fruit…something lemony….
Monsieur: You only smell LEMONS? I am made of many essences: bergamot, lavender, basil, jasmine, lemon grass, ginger, carnation, cyclamen, oak moss, cedar, musk, leather, patchouli and, yes — lemons.
MB: I smell lemons.
Monsieur: Apparently, you have a clogged nozzle. I am vibrant and complex! Lemon does dominate my personality, but it is an authentic, deep, warm lemon. I smell of whole lemons simmering in sweet syrup flavored with lavender, basil, Thai lemon grass and ginger, stirred by a spoon of precious cedar wood, with jasmine blossoms floating on the surface of my golden liquid! I quench the ‘thirst’ of perfume lovers searching for an immortal perfume!
MB: Such florid talk! As for “immortal perfume,” pardonnez-moi, monsieur, I hate to be the one to break the news, but you were sort of discontinued in 1990. Nineteen-ninety was my birthday. I am “you,” only better…I mean — “reformulated!”
Monsieur: Discontinued! Reformulated! Holy Pierre! Mother of Germaine! Pourquoi?
MB: You needed updating! Carnation? Lavender? Fusty!
Monsieur: Fusty? Tell me what you’re made of Monsieur 1990!
MB: I still have bergamot, cedar, ginger, oak moss and all things lemony-citrusy (citron, petitgrain, bitter orange, lemon verbena) — but I’ve been given a boost of mint, rose, pepper, nutmeg, rosemary, thyme, sandalwood, vetiver, sage and amber. If you are a warm pot of spiced lemon syrup, I am a sparkly, fizzy, ice-cold pitcher of lemonade, spiked with sprigs of fresh mint and rosemary, topped not with a garnish of cooked, limp jasmine flowers, but with a few sprinkles of nutmeg. I am SO refreshing and beloved in summertime. I’ve been told my heart notes produce a lovely violet aroma after a few hours on the skin.
Monsieur: Violet! And you deem lavender and carnation fusty?! I grant you one thing, you do smell summery (aside: if a bit artificial), but people wore me year round; my scent withstands cold weather and layers of clothes. I am season-less. Or was….
MB: How much of you is left?
Monsieur: Hardly a quarter of a bottle’s worth! I am on the verge of extinction I suppose. Even you must find it sad that I, the Original Monsieur Balmain, have almost disappeared from the world, or shall I say, suffered the indignity of “reformulation?”
MB: Don’t be sad! All things change. All things end. Right, Kyoto? I do love Zen poetry!
COMME des GARÇONS Kyoto: Actually, I prefer comic books.
Monsieur: How depressing it all is! The Balmain perfumes used to be so fabulous. I wonder how many of my “friends” remain and how they smell today. Pierre would die, again, if he saw your packaging! You look like you belong in an Easter basket! Zen, indeed!
MB: Don’t be rude! You’re dressed for an evening out in Paris; I’m dressed for casual Friday in Miami.
Monsieur: Enough! I have a head-note ache! I must rest. I heard Kevin say he is wearing me tomorrow and now that I know I cannot be replenished, I must prepare myself for the ‘loss’! The loss of self!
MB: Sleep well old thing. (To Comptoir Sud Pacifique Thé: I’m sure when Kevin said he’d be wearing Monsieur Balmain tomorrow he meant me! Love your orange bottle by the way.)
Comptoir Sud Pacifique Thé: Thanks, but don’t be too smug — you ARE 17 years old. I was discontinued before my 10th birthday!
MB: Kevin sure can pick ‘em!