French Perfume

“What’s that smell?”
“What smell?”
“You smell different.”
“I don’t know, is it bad, or what?” I did the comical lift left arm and sniff action. Nope it wasn’t me.
“The perfume?”

As a woman, you spend your life looking for the perfect perfume, the ultimate pongyness that is just right for you.
As I stood in a queue in the Milton Keynes shopping centre a scent of absolute bliss wafted delicately under my nose. I turned to find the middle-aged lady standing behind me smelling delicious.
“Excuse me, what are you wearing?” I asked, “its beautiful.”
“Yes, it is.” She smiled.
“What’s it called?”
“Beautiful.”
“Yes, but what is it?”
“It’s beautiful.”
I decided to speak up, in case she hadn’t heard me and was a bit confused.
She laughed. “It’s called Beautiful and its by Estee Lauder.”
“Oh right, my ignorance was none the wiser. I was in my twenties and hadn’t got a clue who Estee Lauder was, nor even how to spell it. I finished my business in the queue and went to Boots. My go to pharmacist and beauty supplier.
“No.” The woman at the perfume counter said. “Never heard of it.”
I went to Debenhams, the poor man’s rich shop as I call it. When I was that age Debenham’s was for buying clothes to pose in or when you were past it. I now purposely avoid the shop under pain of being placed in one of these two groups.
I have to say that it was pricey as far as pricey went in those days. I bulked at the price given to me by the posh woman on makeup steroids. I smiled as politely as I could and told her that I would be back after I’d been to the bank. I avoided that place for years after that, in case she collared me. But I was determined to one day own a bottle of Beautiful Perfume, and I did. In fact, it has been my go to top up smelly for years now and spraying liberally is as natural to me now as roll on deodorant and moisturiser.
It’s at this point that I would like to describe my two beauty routines in the morning. One is the I’m awake, I ache, therefore I know I’m alive and should be grateful that I can move, and the other is, Ok, let’s put the lush into luscious and rock this middle-aged marvel.

I’m awake goes like this;
Shower, hair drier, moisturiser, deodorant, nearest smelly, clothes.

Lusciously Lucy goes like this:
Check clock, I need two hours at least.
Add semi permanent hair dye to ends of hair, either red, blue, or purple.
Take off nail varnish and moisturise hands, add anti-aging base coat.
Exfoliate face with coffee bean and lime paste.
Shower and shave under arms and legs.
Add in shower self-tan lotion to legs and step outside shower very delicately.
Clean teeth, pick out bits of last night’s burger (to add, I do clean my teeth at night but there is always one bit that just gets lodged in) with sticky picky brush. Swill generously with mouthwash, apply whitener.
Get back in shower and wash off excess self-tan and then rinse and condition dyed hair.
Dry carefully for fear of smudging and having red, purple or blue legs and beautifully self-tanned other bits.
Now I can start my beauty routine, what you thought that was it, oh no. Let’s not forget the eye dewrinkler and dark circle minimiser, the face serum, the moisturiser, neck stretcher exercises, the neck moisturiser, plump’em up and keep’em perky breast exercises, the yoga, the meditation, the body spritzer, deodorant, tautening contour gel, hip flattener, breast tightening cream. Feet soak and then the for nails. Two coats of colour, one overcoat and then the sealant quick dry. That’s after you’ve Vaselined the outer edges so as not to bleed the polish on to the cuticles and fingers. Have I missed anything?
Needless to say, Luscious Lucy days, don’t happen very often.
I won’t get the makeup bag out, but as you can imagine mascara and lippy just don’t cut it in this day and age. Looking natural takes at least two different kinds of mascara, and three different shaped brushes to make sure that your eye brows look in place, natural and not like overweight slugs. Plus, the lippy and sealant.
I’d done it, I was pomped and purposed to kill. I got dressed, opting for the one and only skirt I have in my wardrobe, I was out to look casual but extremely sexy and demure at the same time as looking effortlessly comfortable. The finishing touch, my Beautiful. As I reached for the bottle I hesitated and moved my hand over to the tan and gold slim bottle that sat beside it. This was my French Perfume. Recently bought and loved and cherished so much that it was used sparingly.
“Why not? I’m special.” I sprayed. Now the new perfume is one of those delicate fragrances that needs to mature on the skin to get the full effect. I was aware of this but felt as though I deserved just a tad more than a quick squirt. (Oh, why should I not mention, past experiences with ex’s in this same paragraph?!?)

“What’s that smell?” Is not a comment any woman should hear come out of the mouth of any man as she enters a room, especially not her husband’s.
He collected himself as he looked up and noticed that I looked different as well as smelled at odds. After all he hasn’t seen my legs in over a decade. No honestly, think about it. I’m in bed when he gets in, I’m awake and up before him. He never comes swimming with me, I always wear jeans and jodhpurs and as for the other, really, what man ever looks down?

I was trying to be positive, he’d noticed, that was a good thing, right? At least he noticed.
“It’s just not you. It’s sort of smelly.”
“Yes dear, it’s that new perfume you bought for me when we were in France, remember, the one that you couldn’t work out the exchange rate for.”
Now there was a story. Explaining that the perfume itself wasn’t that expensive but that the tax and duty were to blame for the price, was a work of pure genius on my part. Mark didn’t mind paying the few extra Euro’s for a bottle of smelly stuff, but when he got the credit card bill which showed the real price in £’s he wasn’t that amused. It took a mere five minutes to explain that the price on the ferry was the price we paid but the rest was added on by customs automatically. Not sure if I got away with it, or he just said, “Yes Dear” because he felt sorry for my stupidity. Well whatever he thought was my stupidity, was actually skill on my behalf.
“The one you conned me into paying for?”
“The one you bought for me, yes.”
“Well it stinks.”
“Well I like it.”
I turned and picked up my bag.
“Where are you going?”
“Out, I’ve been stuck in all week, what with one thing and another and I need a break.”
That wasn’t quite true, I had been out, several times but there is just something different about going out and leaving the husband behind that gives you a sense of mischievousness.
“What’s with the skirt?”
“It’s 26 Degrees out there, what do you want me to wear?”
“Not criticising, just making an observation.” Mark sounded apologetic.
“Maybe it’s just one observation too many.” I exercised my right to huff. Oh, how I love the fact that women are allowed to huff and storm off and then blame it on a number of things. Most of which are a man’s fault. Men-opause, Men-tal Illness, Men-stration, and anything else that they can be blamed for, that could be said to be un-men-tionable.

I was upset, I had taken my time to look good and he was being mean. I was going to ask him out to lunch and had planned a lovely afternoon together, but alas, one wrong word and of course he had ruined my entire life.
The thing is I just wanted to be noticed, that’s all, sometimes that’s all we need, just a little bit of attention.
I sat in a coffee shop, on my Jack Jones, it rained when I got to the shops, a right old down pour, a storm hit suddenly and it was so warm that the steam could be seen rising from the pavements. My perfectly groomed hair reverted to its former scraggly curled glory. I had to wipe the panda disguise from my face as the super expensive seal it in mascara double coat let me down and there was a strange waft of ‘something’ about me that I now know was the overpowering French smelly stuff. As for the skirt, I don’t think I ever want to feel that breeze again.

The sun stayed high and as the storm passed a freshness filled the air that comes from that just washed World effect. How was I going to apologise to Mark for being a moody hitch?
As the phone rang I saw his name appear on the screen.

“Hello.”
….
“Yer Ok”
….
“No not long, I’m leaving now.”
….

It only takes one thing to change the World doesn’t it. I won’t get an apology, after all he was just being honest, mean and ill met comments maybe, but honest. I now know that French Pong needs to be used with a subtlety that a not so young biker babe, just doesn’t have.

I was feeling sorry for myself and wondering why Id made the effort.

Later that evening, standing in jeans whilst washing up, Mark came up behind me.
“Where’s the skirt you had on?”
“In the wash, why?”
“It looked good, you want to wear a skirt more often.”
Not to show any great excitement, I resisted the urge to turn around and throw my wonderful husband to the ground.
“You always had good legs, you should get them out more often.”
I began to melt as his smooth suave sophisticated voice charmed me into submission.
“But I think the piss water needs to go.”
“Bang, always a last word.”

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