I had to take my dog to the vet last week. While one of my children tends to get snorfly in the right season, and has a life-adjusting allergy to peanuts, the most allergic member of our family is 74 pounds, furry, and has a tail.
And has a vexing habit of chewing himself "hot spots" if the allergies flare up too quickly without medicinal intervention.
Spotting a hot spot means I need to load him up into the creaky-mobile. Off we go for the look-see, the shave, the steroids, the anti-bac spray, the recommendations for OTC anti-histamines. It occurs to me that even though 'twas allergies that brought us in, I can ask about other dog "things." I mention my dog's wacky tooth. "It's become...transluscent," I tell the vet. "Has a couple of lines, but looks like you can see through it." Vet takes a look, and starts chuckling. "It's hrmmmabllrrrphexiodon," citing some vaguely Latin sounding name, "Does your dog chew metal?" Because, as it turns out, if a dog gnaws on metal, their teeth will become galvanized. Sort of. Their teeth get this coating that makes it look like you can see into the tooth, kind of milky shiny.
I've got a beast with a dully gilded canine tooth and a spot on his haunch that I've got to keep him from licking.
Meanwhile, this same weekend, I had an "aha!" moment when reflecting on a test drive of Calandre. (Yup, I lemminged; two folks mentioned Calandre–Patty over at the Posse, and Helg at Perfume Shrine–so I dug some up. Unfortunately, not from my yard a la the dog, but via online sources. Hey! Perfumista game! Remember the "find the treasure in the sand" box at school carnivals? Tweak it to "find a bottle and keep it." Duds and treasures buried. Hmmmm.) ANYWAY, I have an "aha," and am pretty sure I am on to something. I get out the Calandre, teeth on edge, ready to spritz again.
Why teeth on edge? Because Calandre has this odd note, which I think is the "metallic" note Turin refers to in The Guide. It hangs out in your upper nose, not all bubbly like an aldehyde, but like a menacing aluminum multi-edged shiv. It doesn't move, exactly, so it doesn't cut, and it doesn't actually hurt...but the threat is there.
What was the "aha!"? It was the realization I had had this sensation before, if ever so slightly lower in my nose. Or, to put it another way, with a sympathetic tone that about a musical third lower. Where? From my beloved but often challenging Shiseido Zen, the original in the black bottle. Especially in the edt. The one with the hefty cylindrical glass bottle and the industrial gold sprayer.
Because I am a weird creature perfume explorer, I get all excited. I put my hands on this bottle of Calandre, my teeth brace for trouble, and I find myself liberally spritzing my left wrist. A sniff of the opening, and yup, there it is, that gray metal presence, embracing (armoring?) a cloud of green flower. Pause...personal inventory...nope, my teeth don't hurt this time. But I know we're not done yet, not with this one, or its track partner in the pretty black bottle. Up with the Zen, and a dousing spritz on the right wrist. I brace my nose, and my teeth, and lower my face to my wrist. What's the first thing to hit my nose? Woody rose. Oh, Zen, I've done you wrong. Slandered you, cast asper---wait, what's that? hang on!! There it is!! (Nose clenches.)
A galvanizing experience, this.
Yup. It's the olfactory equivalent of what I imagine it would feel like if I rubbed my teeth against that aluminum serving ware I was so into collecting a while back. Not the smooth modern stuff, but the older style stamped metal. You know, so that the embossing would act like, oh, maybe something between a bumpy road and a microplane? NOT that I've ever done this. But maybe I did at one point in my life chew on a piece of aluminum foil, because a friend told me it would feel weirdly awful. Maybe. All I'm saying is that if I did, my teeth don't look translucent, so if I had, I obviously did not do so too much. Like, maybe, a certain dog I know.
ANYWAY, the metal. That note that is a bit raspy, but not in the comfortable way I spoke of last week, that sandpaper easing away a problematic surface way. This is just...dangerous, a little bit. Keeps you on your toes, by hanging out in a not quite comfortable area and reminding you it could do damage if it had a mind to.
This is exactly the thing that has prevented me from waxing rhapsodic about Zen in the past. How to explain this element? I'll bet it is more pronounced for some than others. I'll bet it gets wrapped big time into an initial "old lady" impression for a lot of people. Heck, I've been *willing* to give it a go, and while I am often happy with the results, I do sometimes have to clutch the armrest until the opening is over. (Not really with the parfum, incidentally. But if you find Zen in the black bottle, it's likely going to be a lighter concentration.)
The way Patty spoke of Calandre, I'm not so sure she gets the "metal" from it. Or that, even if she does, it has that effect of putting her teeth on edge. I know it does me. But less and less so each time I've tried it. I think that eventually (and pretty quickly), I'll have accepted that and folded it smoothly into the Calandre experience.
Zen, I takes my chances.
Have I made clear I decided long ago I liked Zen, and that I'm about to decide I like Calandre?
A question of perception. Am I looking into the glowing depths, or am I stopped short by a metallic layer? It all depends on the angle.
I will try, of course, to not gnaw a hot spot into my wrist if either should betray me.