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On cleanliness

I read in “The Perfect Scent” that most cleaning products in America and Europe are scented with inexpensive synthetic musk molecules discovered and widely deployed after World War II. Because these are the smell most of us grew up smelling in detergent, we associate these smells with “clean”. When someone tells me they like “clean, fresh” smells I file it under “cheap musk” and ignore it (though there are some cheap musks, like the white musk in philosophy’s Inner Grace, that I love vehemently and wouldn’t want to live without.)

What I’m mostly noticing with these musks these days, though, isn’t that they’re boring, it’s that they’re STRONG. I used some Method laundry detergent to wash some hand laundry on Friday night, and the whole bathroom smelled of that musk all night. I like the smell; it makes me feel happy, in a way as though everything has gone right. It’s a reasonable feeling to associate with clean laundry. But it’s so strong that I almost can’t smell anything else. The musk overshadows almost everything.

I brought some Green Man Musk from The Perfumed Dragon home as a gift for a friend this summer (she asked for it). I’ve never worn this, though I’ve long liked the Perfumed Dragon, so I decided to try a dab of this before I forked it over. (Obviously I’m not rushing, as I acquired this in August and clearly it’s still in my custody.) I had a dab of Tihota on one hand and something spiced on the other (I lost track of what I was testing) and the last dregs of the Champagne des Bois I’d tested rather excessively earlier in the day. Within moments they were all gone in the cloud of musk that enveloped me. I liked the green opening (indeed, green man musk!); I like the scent in general. But what I mostly smell is musk, and I suspect I’ll be smelling this musk for a long, long time.

I’m not proud of it, but I’ve acquired some Tova perfumes this fall (I was just too curious about them to pass them up and the cost was only slightly more than samples might have been, if anyone did samples of these which no one does.) There’s some flowers in there, almost nothing natural as near as I can tell, but what I mostly get from Platinum Signature and the Autumn flanker is musk. Musk, with some musk on the side. I can well believe, as Tova says, that it’s hard to put on too much of this stuff; even the smallest spritz is going to have a lot of musk in it and it’s going to continue to smell like musk for a long, long time.

I made two samples of the Tova, like, months ago; lost them; found them; and was on my way to put them in a mailing envelope this evening, and lost them again. I put them down SOMEwhere; I cannot lay hands on them again right this second. Is this the most annoying thing that could happen in my house? No, but it’s damn close to the top of the list. It’s damn annoying. I can only hope they turn up soon; otherwise I’ll be wandering around here for weeks more wondering where the hell I put them. It’s not as though musk is shy and retiring; I ought to be able to sniff them out!

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