I had been itching to get my hands on her for ages.
If ever Mum went out, I’d steal in, to cop a feel. To prise her open and press her nozzle, to roll her coolness, to feel her weight.
Time and again, she left her tale-telling residue behind: on my hands, on my nose. My wretched fumblings exposed.
Treachery, trespass. How do I get you alone?
I wasn’t yet thirteen; far too young for ladies’ ways. In my room, I’d mash up rose petals and chalk to a scented tincture. Family holidays to St Ives supplied Devon Violets, a nuclear, lime-jelly green set off with a purple faux-satin bow. Rancid Avon cast-offs coloured umber in the glare of my window.
Yet, all the desperate while, my loyal girl’s heart beat a loving tattoo–for her, for the doubly dubbed … Anaïs Anaïs.
What a romance ours was! She was an armful–a profusion–of the whitest, most spirituous flowers. She was a beauty of the finest pre-Raphaelite proportions. She was Alphonse Mucha women hazily captured through gossamer gauze. She was lilies in pastel shades, she was semi-opaque. She was young. She was feminine.
She was also doing the rounds with just about every other girl of my age, not to mention my own dear mother and then–the shame!–my poor, mild-mannered Gran. She rolled capriciously from palm to palm, she clung without compunction to a million necks.
By the time I had been deemed of sufficient maturity to partake freely of Anaïs Anaïs, her ubiquity had–for me–become a phenomenon beyond the pale. I quickly tired of her. She soured. I dumped her ass for a bottle ofYsatis.
Yesterday, I caught a quick glimpse of Anaïs Anaïs in the window of my local Superdrug. Cryogenically preserved; a tawdry, heart-breaking £12.95.
I wanted to smell her again–just once! She was my first. Had she changed? Had I? Nostalgic desire. I cogitated: Could we ever relive the magic?
I asked the check-out girl to retrieve her from her ignominious top-shelf exile. My request was met with a grimace, a look of jaded, adolescent incredulity: Are you for real? You want to smell that old shit?
I just want to try it, I fudged (as though that were my very first time). She tried to convince me with steely resistance that, she was sorry, but there was no tester.
Oh, yes there is, I pressed. I was taller than her. I could see it up there, behind that box, there, at the back.
She made a conspicuous display of lugging over a recalcitrant footstool. She sprayed the back of my hand. I wordlessly fled. I found a nearby, desolate alleyway, and stopped.
Only then would I take her to my heart again …
Anaïs Anaïs. She wasn’t unlovely. She was full-on, top-heavy, lily-loaded, pugnacious. I was embarrassed to say that I found her loud–sharp, even–and, frankly, dispiritingly one-dimensional. She was also far less romantic and whimsical than I recalled, though (to her dubious credit) her unsubtle tenacity meant that, for a 'floral bouquet', she certainly went the distance.
Soon sated and deflated, I slunk back to my business and other chores. The day wore on. I tried honourably to memorialise my first love, but the thrill was gone. Anaïs Anaïs and her sillage had faded; she expired just as my memory of ever desiring her was expunged.
Do you remember your first scent like you remember your first love? Share your secrets here, with The Scentimentalist.