About the author: Arielle Weinberg is a Johns Hopkins University Natural Sciences major and aspiring perfumer. She writes about perfume, Star Trek, and her cat for her perfume blog, Scents of Self.
Hi there, Now Smell This! We’re going to start things off with a little quiz!
1. Do you read blogs about perfume? (We know that you read at least one!)
2. Have you ever had to correct a perfume salesperson?
3. Can you name at least three perfumers?
4. Have you ever attended a meet-up or convention for perfume lovers?
5. Do friends give you concerned looks when they see the size of your perfume collection?
6. Are you prone to using perfumista lingo? Examples of perfumista lingo include “sillage monster”, “IFRA restrictions”, or “evil scent twin”.
7. Do you have a favorite classic Guerlain? (Pssst... Nahéma doesn’t count! It was released in 1979.)
8. Did you know that perfumes are frequently reformulated due to issues with ingredients or costs?
9. Do you have a system for keeping track of your perfume samples, such as a written catalogue or a computer spreadsheet?
10. Do you have strong opinions on the IFRA regulations of perfumery ingredients such as oakmoss and sandalwood?
If you answered “yes” to even a single one of these questions, congratulations! You are a nerd.
That’s right! You are all enormous nerds.
You heard me.
Now, I know that this might be hard for those of you who had a social life in high school to accept. I suspect that at least a few of you are currently reassuring yourselves that you cannot possibly be nerds, because nerds play Dungeons & Dragons and write Spock/Gandalf fanfiction and you do not do either of those things. And how does loving perfume make you nerdy, anyway? Veritable billions of non-nerds wear perfume!
As your friendly neighborhood nerd, I’m here to answer all of your questions. My nerd credentials include a truly horrifying number of hours spent watching, reading, and/or playing Star Trek, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Pokemon, Buffy, Firefly, and Dollhouse. I also play five different Pokemon games on my laptop using computer programs that mimic real-life video game consoles. (This does not mean that I know how to fix your computer. Sorry, y’all.)
Now, let’s address the “perfume can’t be nerdy” issue. This right here is one of the major misconceptions about nerdiness. Nerdiness is not confined to a set number of topics. Literally anything can be nerdy. Nerdiness is defined not by the activity itself, but by the nerd’s level of interest in the activity. You are not a nerd because you love perfume. You are a nerd because you are waaaaaay more into perfume than pretty much anyone else is.
So those veritable billions of non-nerd perfume-wearers? They certainly exist. They just wouldn’t have answered “yes” to any of the questions on that little quiz! This is because they have only a very casual interest in perfume. They are the equivalent of that guy who saw two or three Star Trek episodes one day when nothing else was on TV and found them mildly interesting. You, my friends, are not that guy. To continue with the Star Trek metaphor, you are the guy who has the words “Live Long and Prosper” tattooed across his left butt cheek.
Still unconvinced? Let’s take another look at that quiz. Remember that question about your favorite classic Guerlain? Most people have absolutely no idea that Guerlain has ever sold perfumes other than Insolence, Shalimar Parfum Initial, and Shalimar Eau de Toilette. Do you know even one person, other than your Internet Perfume Friends, who has strong opinions on IFRA oakmoss regulations? Do you know even one person, other than your Internet Perfume Friends, who knows what oakmoss is? Do you know even one person, other than yourself, who even has Internet Perfume Friends?
Most importantly, think about the question about your perfume blog reading habits. When a non-nerd finds a perfume that they enjoy, he or she will probably never discuss that perfume with anyone unless someone happens to ask what they’re wearing. Now, here’s what happens when I stumble across a new perfume that I enjoy. First, I check its MakeupAlley reviews. Then I do a general Google search and look for any reviews by perfume bloggers. There’s an entire freaking research process here that would never occur to a non-nerd. Finally, I write my own review for my perfume blog. We’re perfume nerds because we’re not content to merely wear great perfumes; we want to talk about them. We actively seek out other perspectives and ideas about perfume, and eagerly add our own voices to the conversation.
Why did I write an entire post telling you all how nerdy you are? Because I truly believe that nerdiness is something worth embracing. I honestly can’t think of a more fun way to go through life than as a perfume nerd. We’re pretty much guaranteed to be the best-smelling people in any given setting. We get to have lively, intelligent conversations with our fellow perfume nerds right here on Now Smell This (and all over the Internet!) We can make almost anything into an adventure; every fragrant garden or grody antique store demands a quest. Being a nerd doesn't make you Urkel. It makes you awesome!
Allow me to leave you with an inspirational quote from comedian Simon Pegg’s new memoir, Nerd Do Well: “Being a geek is all about being honest about what you enjoy and not being afraid to demonstrate that affection. It means never having to play it cool about how much you like something. It’s basically a license to proudly emote on a somewhat childish level rather than behave like a supposed adult. Being a geek is extremely liberating.”
See also: Erin's 5 Perfumes for: Nerds