Hello, fellow perfume lovers, and welcome to the Cranky Perfumista’s show on how to select your fragrance of the day. Please, come in to my elegant boudoir and — no! — don’t sit there! Holy mother of Bob. Well, that leftover casserole was growing mold anyway. I hope your skirt isn’t real silk. Just wipe it off and knock the rest on the floor. Hortense, my maid, will deal with it later.
So, where was I? Oh yes. Selecting a perfume. When deciding on a fragrance, first consider the day you have ahead. Me, I’ll be planning a top-drawer society event, the wedding of one of the town’s most important car dealers to his daughter’s best friend. (I’ve already managed three of his prior weddings, including the one with live doves and a special performance by the Redskinettes.) We'll be discussing what work of art the live chainsaw ice sculpture artist will create during the reception.
I guess you’ll be selecting perfume for a trip to the dry cleaner’s, but this isn’t about you, is it?
Now that I know I need a fragrance that says “I’m refined and tasteful,” and “you’ll drop more money on me than at a trailer park bordello,” I’m ready to examine my perfume collection for something appropriate. Something wafting the classy buzz of Grasse jasmine and vaguely vetiver-cedar tang of cash. No offense, but something that smells a little more uptown than what you're wearing. What is it, anyway? Eau de Doggy Day Care?
Let’s move to my perfume cabinet and see what I’ve got. Admire the gold leaf and paintings of unicorns and putti? My own design. Oh no, I didn’t paint it — Hortense did. It only took her 36 straight hours. Don’t worry, we ran a fan for the fumes, and I distinctly remember bringing her a tuna melt at some point.
Sweet cheeses! How am I supposed to choose among so many bottles of perfume? Hortense, get in here! I thought I asked you to organize these. What do you mean you didn’t understand me? I told you to put the chypres there, starting with the green ones — vintage to modern — and moving through to floral then fruity then leather chypres. But look. You went and put Jean Patou Colony ahead of Yves Saint Laurent Y. I mean, how hard is it to get that straight? Sniff that. Pineapple, Colony's signature. What kind of puckernuts are you, anyway?
Gasp. Where is my priceless Christian Dior Diorling extrait? You know, the bottle I keep on the tiny altar? What? You don’t know?
That’s it! I’ve had enough. Crack! Ha ha ha. Nice dodge, Hortense, you son of a sea biscuit. So what that the bottle broke. Who cares? It's just some Calvin Klein Obsession I hadn’t got around to throwing out yet. Try this! Crack! That’s right, you can run but you can’t hide, and now you’ll stink of Lanvin Rumeur when you do.
Whoa! Watch out for that casserole!
Whoops. I’d dial 911, but thanks to Hortense’s twice-a-day emergency calls, I’m not sure they’d answer. Anyone know how to make a splint?
Never mind. Just ignore the maid’s shrieks of pain, and I’ll see you next time when the Cranky Perfumista tells you how to choose a perfume for a court date.
[Ed. note: The Cursing Mommy is a series of New Yorker columns, later turned into the novel The Cursing Mommy's Book of Days: A Novel, by author Ian Frazier.]