Monday, April 19, 2010

Metallica -- Taking a bite out of Calandre and Zen

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.


Bloody Frida said...

great post!

when I was in grade school, we had little milk cartons with aluminum foil tabs, and we would take the tabs off and place them on our teeth to pretend we had braces (or was I the only oddball who did that?)

ScentScelf said...

Nope, I never did that. I have no idea what you are talking about.

Now, chewing gum wrappers...that's something I might know a thing or two about when it comes to folding them into dental ornamentation. ;)

{shivers with that same scrapy feeling}

Musette said...

There is nothing I hate more than the surprise of metal against my teeth, particularly if something (like a stray bit of alum foil) hits one of my old fillings (do they still use the metal stuff they used to use 'back in the day'?)

Anyway, I never got that metal from Zen but I did get it from Calandre - just a hint. I think it's what made it interesting. It's been 20 years (or more) since I wore either but I can still smell them both in my mind's nose.


La Bonne Vivante said...

I used to chew on aluminum foil just to get that weird feeling. I remember I could feel it in the nerves of my neck, down my shoulders and arms, all the way to my fingers. Your post made me shiver all over just thinking about it! Good times!

ScentScelf said...

Ack! Stray bits of aluminum foil...I find them to be some sort of karmic payback for indulging in convenience food. Said snorfly son just pulled a bit of foil from his slice of deep dish pizza a few nights ago. shiver As someone in the midst of a dental repair, I can tell you no, no they don't use metal amalgams like back in the day.

:) "smell them in my mind's nose"

ScentScelf said...

LOL, LBV. "Good times." :)

Okay, that's both you and Musette who re-called the shivers. I think my teeth are going to hurt and I'm going to end up with a serious case of the Willies by the time this day is over. ;)

flittersniffer said...

I too have experienced accidental tin foil fragment impact. Very cringe-making it is too. Not sure if I deliberately played oral tin foil games as a kid - only for a millisecond, I would imagine.

When I first read your post I thought "snorfly" was a type of fly native to the Great Lakes. And maybe it still is.

I get a metallic note with Calandre, and I can't recall Zen clearly enough to comment. My most noted metallic association is with Nahema, which I would liken to powdered iron girders.

Sorry about your dog's hot spots - pets can be high maintenance sometimes, especially as they age. Our elderly, deaf cat requires a twice-weekly deep cleaning routine in one ear, which I have to perform as Mr Bonkers is too squeamish. Plus I have daintier fingers, which presumably causes the cat less discomfort during the procedure.

ScentScelf said...

This was a purgatory of my own design. Et tu, Flittersniffer?

Ha! I shall add the snorfly SnorFly to the Great Lakes pantheon. Considering we have horseflies that drive you to the water and try to remain with nothing but nostrils breaking the surface in order to avoid their painful bite, a SnorFly seems a likely cousin.

Nahema. Wowsy wow wow wow. At the moment, a painfully fluorescent hue from the '80's, lit up as neon, and covered in numbingly sweet frosting is what my mind's nose remembers. (Thanks, Musette.) I know people feel the love; I can certainly see how it is unique.

Apparently, I'd rather flagellate myself with a metallic note, thank you very much.

Thanks for the good pet wishes. Oh, my youth, we had a cat that required special ear attention. A job which often fell to me. {Oh, look, a fresh squeam for the day...isn't this perfume thing supposed to be all dainty and about flowers and marine notes and such? ;) }

The Left Coast Nose said...

Ok. Desire to smell metal: high.
Desire to chew metal--Yikes! Whose idea was that? (oh, wait....right...the dog's...)

ScentSelf, just personally, I think the perf-o-blogs should spend a little more time talking about ordinary smells, even the icky ones. Mix it up, you know?

Olfacta said...

My cat is allergic to himself.

Seriously, though, he seems to be allergic to just about every kind of cat food. So we have to buy ZD-Net from the vet, at about $29 for a (small) bag. This is because the result of his particular set of allergies is (you guessed it) vomiting.

It's a good thing he's such a good cat.

I think Rive Gauche has that same metallic edge.

ScentScelf said...

LFN, one must be *very careful* when encouraging me about such things. In my life of ordinary smells, which includes some happy things from the garden etc., there is also my life with aforementioned dog, teenage boys, and household mishaps.

Aw, what the heck...Mary Cassatt was intent on representing a certain aspect of life, right? :)

I'll dedicate the first musing to you.

ScentScelf said...

Olfacta, ouch. I have been acquainted with such hyper-sensitive creatures, though, so I know what you mean.

I once had a cat prone to vomiting, but it was generally as a form of disdain. I kid you not. She was the most Queenly of cats. And a beast. She could also open old-fashioned round doorknobs with her paws. She, too, was in the whole a good cat.

Yes! Rive Gauche has it. Ultimately, I think something about the rose pads it a little better in my nose, but it's there for sure.

flittersniffer said...

Funny how you suddenly find yourself encountering the very thing you have been talking about - I nearly bit on a piece of Toblerone foil last night - and though I missed the foil in the end, the outsize triangle scraped the roof of my mouth in a very unpleasant manner! Then today I had to extricate bits of butter pat foil from my toasted tea cake. Some fragments were microscopic, but scary enough.

ScentScelf said...

Zoiks! This is not the kind of voodoo I hope to perpetrate. Methinks I need to find some sort of antidote...though, unfortunately, in general I tend to turn to chocolate whenever physical or psychic comfort is required. Wait...maybe that's good...oh, Toblerone, what a treacherous path you have laid.

(Note the twist...I turned the blame 180 degrees, back to the Toblerone...naturally. Triangles, 180 degrees, you know.)

((I realize that I dropped the voodoo thread. This was purposeful. Such things only have power if you allow them to have it. I foiled the voodoo by ignoring it.))

flittersniffer said...

180 degrees : - ) !!