Disappointment, already an unpleasant emotion, is always intensified by the coloring of one’s expectations. To really, really look forward to something, to build it up in one’s imagination until it exceeds all of its realistic dimensions — this is an unfortunate reality most of us are familiar with. Previously, we’ve exercised these hopes for schoolyard crushes, Christmas gifts. Then, university applications, first dates, second chances.
Not to be overdramatic, but this is how I felt about Comme des Garçons’ 2 Man. (Whereas certain people have the emotional range of a teaspoon, I hyperextend.) I came upon it in a menswear shop in Montreal, at the beginning of the year. A close friend had tried it on, and it peeled itself layer by layer on his wrist, magnificently. We sniffed at it repeatedly on the way back to his apartment.
Perplexed as to its constituents, an investigation was launched immediately: white smoke, incense, saffron, mahogany, vetiver, leather. If my perfect match existed on paper, this was it. A true soulmate-level compatibility. Certain interests are piqued by appearances, and others by rumoured defining traits — I had liked what these notes were saying about the cologne. Like the infatuation forged when a cute date shares your taste in literature, my interest became an obsession. (As I said, hyperextension.)
I had left the shop without trying it on, not believing at the time that a cologne of 2 Man‘s nature could be successfully worn by a woman. I don’t know what kind of self-limiting witchcraft I was exposed to, but there it is. I didn’t think I could live up to it. (In my defence, the tagline was: “a worker, a man who loves his work.” I don’t aspire to such standards.) But when a friend introduced me to The Perfumed Court and its overwhelming decanting possibilities, I ordered it immediately. Surely, it would reward my fondness with a good projection, a rich and enduring complexity.
And of course, it didn’t. It stank. I smelled like an elderly hoarder with a proclivity for medicine and ink. Gutted, I wore it repeatedly, offering up my wrist to any willing nose — many noses were unwilling, but obliged by friendship and/or proximity. In the feedback I gathered, descriptives were rich and plentiful: they ranged from ‘attractive but slightly dusty librarian’ to ‘refined cougar’, to ‘what you might be in 40 years if you didn’t age well.’ Sum all, not positive. My disappointment welled.
And honestly, I should have known better. It was, for all intents and purposes, an anosmic* date. (*Research was needed for this. Whereas words denoting most sensual deprivations –blind, mute, deaf, numb — are integrated into the English vernacular, the sense of smell has been revealingly left out. Anosmic: relating to an impairment or loss of the sense of smell.)