AMERICAN GIRLS, or, THE DAY I WAS ASSAULTED AT A YOKOHAMA WEDDING BECAUSE OF MY TASTE IN PERFUME: (HAPPY……by CLINIQUE) (1997)

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I was once slapped, really hard, across the face, because a girl’s taste in perfume differed from my own.

 

As my cheek smarted, and her boyfriend and mine, and other onlookers (at a mutual friend’s wedding) sat gobsmacked in anxious silence wondering about what would happen next, it struck me quite forcefully how the conservative U.S sense of perfume can be so wildly-  WILDLY! – different to the European.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But to rewind…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The girl (whose name I am not allowed to use; I can still hear her drunk, screaming at the top of her lungs, “I will sue you! I will fuck you! I will fucking take you down if you print my name!”) was sitting across from me, and being the quintessential sassy American blonde I knew I would have to interview her on her perfume tastes, as, all irony aside, I do genuinely love how most American girls smell: so peachy clean, soft, so apple-fresh ( I remember almost swooning with pleasure when my friend Theresa wore the original Tiffany at a bar one night…………somehow we Europeans can never quite catch that strawberried, faultlessly clean yet strangely sexy halo of shower-gelled hygiene and fresh-pressed laundry…)

 

 

 

 

As this girl and I downed beers at the marriage after-party in a Yokohama Mexican restaurant, we quickly grew a fun and flirtatious rapport. And I remember us standing in the steaming cold outside, laughing and joking, as she smoked a cigarette, talked perfume and Texas; and her boyfriend started to wonder what she was getting up to.

 

 

 

Excited about a project on perfume I was hoping to start, she was going to be the U.S correspondent: we would expand, we were going worldwide, baby.

 

Back inside, over enchiladas,my Nº 19 was quickly, quite rudely, immediately dissed as too ‘woodsie and girly’ (she was a firm believer in men smelling like men) and, anyway, perhaps, on that occasion,  she was right. The Chanel doesn’t work every time on me for whatever reason – temperature, that day’s body chemistry, and I am always waiting for the leather and citric vetiver to make itself known, not the powdery iris and neroli which can sometimes predominate instead, and even I knew that on that particular evening I had made the wrong choice (a familiar agony for true perfumists, when you know you have selected the wrong scent on a particular occasion and you can’t relax for the rest of the evening….)

 

 

 

 

 

However, her own choices also made me laugh out loud : such thoroughly dreadful . Every ‘clean’, ‘fresh’ ‘sexy’ perfume in the book that she thought were god’s gift to perfume and humanity but which I ferociously, but good humouredly (or so I thought) dissed back as they basically proclaimed her to be an olfactory moron. Ralph Lauren Romance? Give me a break. Vera Wang? Oh, don’t make me laugh…

 

 

It was a body lotion she was carrying in her bag, though, something she thought was exotic and alluring and pretty, that caused the actual assault.  It was so bad, so truly and utterly vile ( Bath And Body Works ‘Japanese Cherry Blossom’ I think, so pink, so chemical and not even remotely related to the smell of the sakura) that I just had to tell her my truth, not expecting for one moment that her exquisitely manicured hand would then coming smashing down, hard, across my face…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In all of this controversy the only perfume we had managed to agree on at any point and to any extent was Happy, still one of the most popular perfumes in America and something of an institution in the ‘clean and perfect’ type of fragrance that renders a person so radiantly scrubbed their sexual organs are smoothed out into flesh-pink Action Man Barbie mounds; skin marbellized, made acrylic; immaculate wash machine halations that mask the flesh beneath and create idealized, perfected, desexed holograms in their place.

 

 

 

 

For this girl, Happy was all about summer, and girls in short white dresses heading out on the town; clean, confident, sexy, radiating wholesomeness.

 

For me, it is the same, really (though I find it more asexual) ; a very cleverly blended citrus floral of grapefruit and orange and a whole bouquet of imaginary flowers (mainly ‘living headspace’ flowers, that apparently include  (!!!!!!) morning dew orchid, West Indian mandarin tree blossom; melati blossom; high altitude laurel; Chinese golden magnolia and  ‘Hawaiian wedding blossom’… ) ha!

 

– and it all just smells lovely, especially in small doses from a distance. Really. Under the complex beginning of the scent there are no woods, or musks, or any other bother, and once the initial, rather heady (and very Lauder) top accord dissipates, you are left with nothing more than a beautiful, very chemical trail of flowers and skin scent that screams

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I AM HAPPY!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I HAVE NO PSYCHOLOGICAL GLITCHES!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I AM BALANCED, FOCUSED AND HAVE NO INTESTINES!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I can imagine that there are people reading this who have direct experience of this fragrance, either from wearing it themselves or smelling it on colleagues at work, and I would love to know your thoughts on the subject. Admittedly, the scent is extraordinarily conservative, safe, almost monstrously synthetic, and easy to hate if you prefer the more inner-thigh fragrances. But for me, after a long hot shower, and worn with a clean white shirt, there is, it pains me to admit, nothing better for work. It suits my Japanese olfactory double life perfectly and would probably be in my own top ten of day scents, if it didn’t, unfortunately, cause me such excruciating migraines. As in, full, back of the head pulsating agony. Pierced cranium shootings. I got through at least five bottles of the stuff in my time before I finally realized that it was poisoning me, perhaps literally (I saw an internet article about Happy which was very alarming, but it is not my aim to be libellous, so I might save that for another time……)

 

 

 

 

Despite its hazardous nature though, Happy is, in my view, when all is said and done, a small work of quite original genius from certain standpoints – few perfumes have gained as many compliments from Japanese people on me (honestly: can you believe I am even writing this?):  girls at school literally following me down the corridor crooning about how beautiful I smelled (“flower! Flower!”). I have to say then, that ultimately, this toxic, insidious beauty is something of a classic, if a dangerous one.

 

 

 

 

 

I wonder if Lisa or whatever her name was, somewhere across the Pacific ocean, still wears it when she goes out at night: strutting the Dallas boulevards in her shorts, blouses and clean-pressed whites, trailing Happy, punching strangers in the face.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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For more on Happy, see my post on my strange, schizoid perfumed life here: ‘Jekyll and Hyde and the colognes of Gandini…’

80 Comments

Filed under Bitch, Citrus, Perfume Reviews

80 responses to “AMERICAN GIRLS, or, THE DAY I WAS ASSAULTED AT A YOKOHAMA WEDDING BECAUSE OF MY TASTE IN PERFUME: (HAPPY……by CLINIQUE) (1997)

  1. Excellent post. This is probably the best article on perfume I’ve read in a while: entertaining, honest and I must say accurate. North Americans definitely have an obsession with clean and fresh smells. It’s a very interesting cultural phenomena to explore further.

    Speaking of Happy, it is the only fragrance many of my Chinese friends would consider wearing. It must be very appealing to the Asian market too.

    • ginzaintherain

      I really is, or rather was, in Japan too for a while.

      Glad you like it: just enjoying your post on objectivity. It really is difficult, though I do try and show both sides usually.Ultimately you can only tell your own story, though.

      • Thank you, writing this post on objectivity is in a way like shooting myself in the foot. I’m doing fragrance reviews myself and with this post essentially I’m saying – don’t believe my reviews, they are biased. You put it in a nice way though – we just tell our own story and that sometimes is more important than telling the objective truth.

      • ginzaintherain

        I think so: what else can you do? And personally, I prefer atmosphere and personal recollections that morbidly insistent analyses of notes, which can come across as pretentious. You feel what you feel!

      • This is not a topic for this section but I am extremely curious about fragrance tastes and perceptions in Japan and other Asian countries from a cultural point of view. As you have lived there for a long time and you love fragrance, you probably have a great insight into this and I’m curious to hear your observations. If you don’t think it’s appropriate to discuss here, please email me or send me a private message.
        Thank you

      • ginzaintherain

        There is nothing I consider inappropriate, and I have a LOT to say on the topic! I am planning an extended treatise on the subject, but I have written about it in my articles on Zen (Shiseido), on the Gandini colognes, and Hermes Vetiver Tonka. Have a look at those for starters if you like, and tell me what you think!

  2. I must add, your article also reveals another cultural feature of many Americans: they tend to be more litigatious than any other culture I’ve come across.

    • ginzaintherain

      I know! She literally was screeching at me that we were going to court (when, surely, it was me who could do that if I wanted to. It was a very hard slap: Duncan, my partner, knows I have a fiery temper, so I think he was very nervous it was all about to turn into carnage……)

      Luckily I saw the camp side of it all – was I really going to start a fight over a perfume, not to mention the fact that she was a (tough, terrifying) girl?!

      • You definitely have a case in court for that slap. Barring she was drunk, slapping you over a fragrance disagreement is a little extreme. It looks like she was struggling with too many much too deeper issues to discuss here. Oh well, glad you turned it into a great story.

  3. Cath

    Some people just can’t control themselves, can they?
    So, my view on HAPPY? they should BAN it! This is one of the most nauseating perfumes I have ever come across. I remember when you could smell this on half the population here in Japan, and I felt literally sick whenever I smelled it. I don’t know if you read my comment on your MONSTER post, where I write about Chloé EDP, well Happy was the first incident of feeling stalked and tortured by perfume. Chloé is the second. I can endure a lot, but those two should be destroyed and never ever allowed again. The nausea, headaches, oh, it’s awful. Happy is the reason why I can’t stand citrus notes anymore, LOL.
    One day as I walking past the Clinique counter a clumsy SA was spraying Happy on a customer, and I don’t know what she was thinking, but she held the bottle to high, aimed in the wrong direction and BAM! I got Happy in my eye. It stung like hell. So they had call the floor manager, who started apologizing profusely, took me to the eye clinic in the same building, paid for everything (I had no insurance at that time, hahaha, serves them well). The verdict: injury of the cornea.
    So now you can understand why I don’t like Happy. Happy is an evil thing.

  4. Cath

    Sorry for the typos. Damn autocorrect function isn’t very clever.

  5. Fantastic post, Neil! Thank you for making my morning a lot better! 🙂

  6. brie

    i never wore Happy but worked with someone who did. maybe because she applied so sparingly but it did smell quite lovely on her….very citrusy and soft. As an American I can agree that the clean scents are ubiquitous in my country (YucK!). In fact for my perfume despising co-worker Warm Cotton by Clean is the only fragrances she will apply to her body (now with what I wear she berates me all the time). And indeed we are way to litigious (I work in the field of special education and I cannot tell you how many times I go to meeting with attorneys present-makes my stomach turn)

    Great review Neil….needed a good laugh this morning before I take on the arduous task of cleaning snow off my driveway!

    • ginzaintherain

      You are welcome! Those Clean perfumes are hell on earth to me: UTTERLY FOUL. Happy is like the Sistine Chapel in comparison. I understand Cath’s loathing, but as you say it can smell beautiful, if irritating in what it represents….

      • brie

        And this is why my co-worker and I do not get along….someone gifted me the Clean bottle and co-worker loved it so (whereas I did not) that I gave it to her…hoping she would become a bit more tolerant of perfume in general.Unfortunately she only likes the Clean and would’t dream of venturing out and trying anything else (plus as I said before she is extremely NASTY in her opinions of what I wear!!!!)

      • ginzaintherain

        She is clearly a moron: please slap her for me.

  7. I once got hit in the face for smiling at a bloke who was singing as he walked up the street. I was thinking how nice his voice was and then as he walked passed he just lunged at me and clawed at my eye screaming ‘WHY ARE YOU SMILING YOUR SMILE AT ME??!!!’ leaving me with a bruised cheek – and, yes, scratched cornea (Cath’s comment has just reminded me of this too!) HAPPY-ness, is seems, is a warm gun! Dangerous stuff! But the weird thing is, the perfume I was wearing at the time was not Happy, but another by Clinique that was released for a year or two in about 2003, whose name I can’t remember but which smells really similar! I wore it that whole year. Must find out what that was. I quite like Happy – in fact, am still using up some Happy hand cream I got two xmases ago – particularly its musky notes – but it has an edge to it that means I don’t wear it too often. I do associate it with the inside of cars actually – that kinda cold, petrolly plasticy smell cars have first thing in the morning when the door hasn’t been opened for hours – and noting your description of Happy for Men as evoking this for you too, I’m wondering if it’s the same ingredient as one that’s in that…Anyway, I’m sorry to hear about your experience with the woman. She sounds bang out of order and you didn’t deserve to be hit like that. Outrageous.

    • The perfume I wore back then might have been Happy To Be actually which would in fact make this incident 2005 which is about right…!

      • brie

        yes, Nina, I forgot about ALL of those flankers….Happy in Bloom, Happy Heart, Happy to Be, etc,etc.
        good to see you back!

    • ginzaintherain

      ditto to what I said to Cath earlier: my iphone failed to deliver what I tapped into it. I write my reply, press send and then….niente (gomen)

      but your being hit is different to mine I think: much worse – evil in fact and I can completely imagine it as i am from the same place. just pure nasty aggression.

      Mine was almost a case of two people getting overexcited (and possibly overfamiliar): it was almost exciting

      • Perhaps the case. Mais quand meme! Alpha squeaky-clean perfume slap flouncer-screecher! They have more iron in their well-manicured paws than is apparent. Weddings do tend to bring peoples extremes to the fore. For some reason this has just made me think of the mother character in Strictly Ballroom! My incident did shock and upset me at the time, and the perpetrator was clearly a disturbed young man, but I even found a funny side to it later, believe it or not. But it is strange that it was a variant of the Happy perfume that I was wearing. And I loved that Happy to Be, but perhaps there is an edge to the whole Happy concoction that makes people flip.

      • ginzaintherain

        It is that ground teeth perfection, the smile that hides the violence; the ‘morality’ whereby ‘nudity’ is considered more shocking than killing, when a naked body is totally natural…

      • ginzaintherain

        The violence lurking beneath the white-toothed smile; the ‘morality’ whereby a naked body is more shocking than gun deaths….it’s all fucked up

    • brie

      That is awful! I cannot tell you how often I have smiled at strangers. Perhaps I should think twice now…if anyone every slapped me my 93lb body would probably keel over!

  8. Dominic

    I hope you have more interesting stories to tell us about, maybe without violence factor. What can I say, whenever I read sth like that plus these cases when a woman in Detroit? sued the company she’d worked for and won a lot of money for being in danger of smelling others’ perfumes, which resulted in a complete ban of wearing any scented products, I am happy on that occasion to be living in Europe. These articles about differences in our tastes and American tastes are always interesting but they can be going way too crazy in their pretensions and admiration of cleanliness. Nothing wrong with being clean and fresh, it’s a necessity, but, like Jean Claude Ellena reminded in one of the interviews, perfume is not a hygiene product. Besides so called clean and fresh scents can be giving more headache sometimes so they shouldn’t necessarily be justified as the only right ones to wear at work or anywhere in public. The proper amount and knowledge about how to wear fragrance is the key.

  9. nuchlmax

    What a hilarious post – Neil, the story would deserve a short story (although I deeply despise the girl!)

    • Lady Jane Grey

      By accident my comment above went under a strange alias – I’m still good old Lady Jane Grey.. 🙂

      • ginzaintherain

        no problem: this various alias thing seems to be commonplace…..perhaps i should give it a go…..

    • ginzaintherain

      I kind of liked her: we started off so well….

      (and welcome to the narcissus: I am glad that this ludicrous anecdote has got people coming out of their shells…….have you ever been smacked because of scent?)

  10. Renee Stout

    Your story and pictures made this post HILARIOUS! As an American living in America, I have to say that the general taste in perfume here bores me to tears. I’m a visual artist with absolutely no money, yet I’m a perfume snob. I’m only a snob because I know how easily really good, interesting perfumes can be had by pretty much anyone, if they’re willing to investigate by going to ebay or any number of other places on the net where everything from vintage classics to the latest niche perfumes can be found at a fraction of the cost of the generally mediocre stuff they offer at Sephora. I always marvel at celebrities,who when asked about the perfumes they wear, will offer up something like Happy or Clean. They have all the money in the world to purchase the best perfumes in existence, yet this is the best they can do as far as perfume? I have to say that I prefer the “inner thigh” aesthetic when it comes to perfume. It’s funny how Americans consider themselves to be brave an adventurous, yet that’s the last thing this culture is at this point in out history when it comes to perfume. I prefer the kinds of perfumes that the “broads” of the 20’s 30’s 40, and 50’s dared to wear.

    • ginzaintherain

      I think what you write here is stupendous: I love it: and I SECOND THAT EMOTION.

    • ginzaintherain

      A snob who isn’t actually a snob, just a connoisseur, with a nose, and brain cells.

      How COULD they limit themselves to that crap, as you say?

      What is the great fear?

      Why are detergents the holy grail?

      Hurrah for your inner thigh!!

    • Dominic

      I love the distance that you have towards yourself and Americans, who usually are OTT with the pride coming from the simple fact that it happened to them to be born in such and such a country. It’s fun that you have such a point regarding them being brave and not showing that in scented part of life. I have similar impression after living a few years in UK (I’m Polish btw) with British people. It always surprises me when they are so amazed by sth from outside of their western world, anything, eg the food. Which is even more funny cause they are definitely not the most demanding gourmets in the world. Coming back to fragrances, yes… why are detergents so big? Why do they crave for the one and only good fresh scents? Sometimes I think it’s the difference in the culture of scenting the body. I feel like they really threat perfume as a hygiene products. Also regarding celebrities it makes me almost cry when I hear these stories that they haven’t found their perfect scent so they’ve decided to create one, that’s about those who came out with their products. Yeah, like I’m gonna believe that.

      • ginzaintherain

        Very interesting what you say here.

        Regarding America, I have a complicated relationship with it because I adore much of the culture, I have American friends, and on The Black Narcissus I find that American readers naturally gravitate towards me and vice versa. I even read the New York Times every day, so feel quite versed in the positive aspects of the culture.

        The negative things go without saying (republicans, guns, the winner/loser culture, and yes, the arrogance you speak of, which I agree is also a part of the UK, but any country, surely – you wouldn’t believe how xenophobic Japan is)…

        My comment about liking how US girls smell was not sarcastic either: I genuinely do like that ‘sweet-scented freshness’ thing on other people, but at the same time, as you say, there is some strange terror of any bad, or even natural, odour.

        I don’t know much about Polish culture regarding scent, only that my brothers’ last two girlfriends have both been Polish and one of them was a mad perfume obsessive. My mum even made her fish on Christmas day…

      • Cath

        Reading this makes me want to wear a very offensive perfume when I travel to the U.S. Yes, I am evil like that ;)p

  11. emmawoolf

    fantastic post, Neil – after that, I simply had to find out exactly what Happy smelled like for myself. So, a quick slide on the icy streets down to Debenhams (the downmarket, somewhat tatty note of the shop seemed to suit) – a splash on some paper and the weeniest brave spritz on the wrist and – ugh. I don’t like it at all – all I sense is a horrid, synthetic apple note – reminiscent of Clarins eau de Jardins? Or have I got it all terribly wrong? (it’s a wee bit scary, posting here among so many perfumistas). x

    • ginzaintherain

      That is it exactly….that synthetic, fruity thing, still going strong, still a monster!

      As for the perfumistas, you have always been wearing perfume as long as I have known you, and smell divine in it, so come join the maniacs!

    • brie

      EMMA- Neil does a fantastic job of facilitating all of this chatter about perfume! I don’t believe that there are any perfume snobs amongst us and I do enjoy reading your comments (you Brits have such a wonderful way with words!!!) so don’t be scared!

      • ginzaintherain

        I don’t know about being a facilitator but I do like that idea…and it is true: Emma, just stick your nose in there and get on with it!

  12. Holy moly! That is a brassy broad if I do say so myself! As an American, I judge no one for busting out a can of justified whoopass. However, you got it for no reason. Sorry that you got smacked! She should have gotten smacked for her bad taste! I feel bad for her boyfriend, actually . . .

    In any case, thanks for the morning laugh 🙂

    • ginzaintherain

      ‘A can of justified whoopass’: I love it.

      In retrospect, knowing me, probably I was SO ungracious about her crude tastes that she had no choice but to let one fly…

  13. Well, at least you got a great story out of it, right?

    Happy… From the time it had been released I always loved it… for the first minute or two, preferrably on a piece of paper. And then I couldn’t stand it. I do not get a headache from it but it is nauseating. I don’t know what’s wrong with it but it goes beyond me just not liking the scent. It’s a phisical reaction. But the next time I smell it – I still enjoy those first two minutes.

    On a separate note, having suffered from lost comments while using iPhone and iPad, I made it a rule to copy my response into memory (Tap on the word => Select All (or manualy move the selection borders) => Copy). It saved me a lot of re-typing.

  14. brie

    CATH- when you come to the States make sure you are wearing an over the top chypre or something with incredible sillage (then come and visit me at work and drive my perfume despising co-worker crazy!!) I can be quite passive aggressive myself!

    • ginzaintherain

      I WAS in Japan too, until the country beat it out of me…..

      • Cath

        I am waiting on my decant of Muscs Koublai Khan. If I can bear to wear it, it will be my go to whenever I want to annoy people. LOL.

        Neil. I wear whatever I want. I apply at least 1 hour before leaving the house, and my skin seems to absorb perfume, I never get comments, besides the occasional “did someone bring cookies?” when I wear Loukoum by KM. Japan may have made me change in some ways, but they won’t beat my love of perfumes out of me.

      • ginzaintherain

        Me neither, but I AM the only foreigner in the company, and 500 to one is hard to weather

      • brie

        Goodness…I feel for you! 500 against 1…I am only battling two perfume critics in my life. Yet I have come to the resolve that I must develop a set of balls and wear whatever I want at work and just smile at co-worker when she tells me that I “stink” instead of taking it so personally. For in actuality there are others at my job who DO appreciate how I smell and always ask to sample whatever I have on hand as well as my collection of essential oils. So perhaps I am indeed in a better position than you are, Neil!

      • ginzaintherain

        I hope this bitch doesn’t actually use the word ‘stink’. Because that would be deeply offensive.

        Loving your feistiness, Brie-san

  15. Dominic

    I’ve had similar thing in mind regarding scents that Americans love, nothing wrong with that, it’s pleasant but whenever you wear something more distinctive, sophisticated, “dated” it feels like they’re afraid of you sometimes or you have just made a massive faux pas. I spent a few months in US and noticed that attitude.
    I heard about Japan so i can only imagine. It would be hard for me to live there and keep on wearing fragrance.
    Even though I’m Polish it’s hard to say much about fragrance culture, I was always a fragrance lover though for a long time I couldn’t afford to get the real stuff. But people do like smelling nice and I thinks most of the time they wear kind of safe perfume and they follow well known brands. Once I read sth sad about the survey that was carried out and the result surprised me cause it showed that a lot of customers reach for famous, legendary fragrances no matter whether they love it. it looked like the brand was more important to them than what they like. I think it’s because they might treat fragrance mainly as a part of image. For me it’s an art I need to be surrounded by and a part of aromatherapy too.
    Their taste probably isn’t much different than the taste of other European citizens. However checking bestsellers’ list can tell you more about preferences.
    And following Cath I also feel like putting on sth strong and offensive, very French, if I were going to America again.

    • ginzaintherain

      I do have my own ‘terrorist’ moments here, but ultimately, when people sit with handkerchiefs across their faces like Japanese will do, grimacing, it just doesn’t seem worth it. I am HYPERSENSITIVE to be told I ‘stink’ now and it no longer seems like fun.

      This was the irony: with Happy I was getting the OPPOSITE reaction!

  16. Wonderful post. I enjoyed reading it. Was it the booze that influenced her decision to slap you or was she feeling a certain kind of way? I f I could slap everyone that reeked of malodorous colognes it would be a great day for me. LOL

    • ginzaintherain

      I think the mutual booze certainly added to the madness…..

      And I agree: if we were to slap everytime there was stench, there would be absolute CARNAGE

  17. Funny you mentioned Bath and Bodyworks Cherry Blossom. I have a friend who used to where that, before I introduced her to finer scents. It is one of the most atrocious things around, yet so popular in the states here.
    You are correct about women in the USA being able to pull off that just bathed, puritanical, no scent thing. In all my years here I have never been able to do the just bathed clean thing, when it comes to scent. I have always been a “fragrance” person, not a “scrubbed clean” natural one.
    I am just amazed, alcohol or not, that that person had the audacity to slap you. But then again, I am not too surprised by the lack of control.
    Just nice to know she lives on the other side of this country. Texas is its own “special” place; I know a few people from there and they are quite outspoken and larger than life.
    Oh, speaking of Happy, I worked for Clinique around the time it was released,it became an immediate hit. I never really enjoyed it, I was always more of an Aromatics type. But I can see how it would appeal to the Japanese aesthetic of clean, pure and subdued, not that I find the scent to be too subdued.

    • I think it is an evil substance, despite the fact that I have never been more complimented (literally). It is toxic, I believe, utterly chemical, but somehow can smell amazing on certain people.

      And no one was more shocked than I was when she slapped me. This wasn’t just some play slap, it was a proper belt across the chops.

      Over a FOUL, atrocious as you say, thing like ‘Japanese Cherry Blossom’. I am glad you know exactly what I am talking about!

  18. odiferess

    I never could quite learn to love Happy, in the same way that Pleasures gave me no pleasure, Happy made me unhappy. I have not given it a sniff in recent years but I will make sure to sample it next time I go to town and see if my broadened tastes can feel the love.
    I’d like to know what you (and the Dallas laundress) think of Calyx. I feel it has the same cleanliness of Happy but the sharp fruit bowl effect renders it technicolour to me. I find it extraordinarily exhilarating, alike sci-fi fruit or tropical robots.

    • I LOVE Calyx and don’t feel for a second that you need to re-smell Happy, for fear of getting a dreadful headache.

      It was just that I did wear it to work for a time, and people LOVED it on me. Now I would not even sniff it. It literally does give me migraines, instantly.

  19. David

    It’s good that she slapped you and you saw her true colors before you ventured to start a project with her. Oh, how I know and dread that kind of American woman. They must express every emotion lest anyone doubt where they stand. I do occasionally like to watch them from afar and marvel at how self-important a person can be. I shake my head and get away and bless my lucky stars I am not straight.

    • !

      I have not met such a person very often I must admit, but it is amazing how an act of violence can so suddenly and absolutely change things. I am a very volatile person myself so thank god I managed to restrain myself or it could have been absolute carnage.

  20. “I wonder if Lisa or whatever her name was, somewhere across the Pacific ocean, still wears it when she goes out at night: strutting the Dallas boulevards in her shorts, blouses and clean-pressed whites, trailing Happy, punching strangers in the face.”

    If I’d been drinking tea when I read those last five words, I would have snorted it out my nostrils. (You know, they have LOL and ROTFL/ROTFLMAO and but nobody has popularized Snorts Tea out of Nostrils. Someone should.) Beautiful, just beautiful. That contrast is somehow SO American (for Americans of that particular schizophrenic type, mostly female, it seems; thank god they’re in the minority).

    I would never even get NEAR a fragrance called Happy.

    • The headaches I eventually got from it were so bad that I literally get similar symptoms just thinking about it.

      This piece does amuse me though and I felt like reposting it, particularly seeing that Trump is coming here at the weekend.

      Also, Happy really is possibly my most complimented perfume of all time.

      • . . . in Japan. 😉 Methinks in Brazil, for an especially dichotomous example, it might be something else entirely! Of course, I always “picture” you in N°19 when the ol’ Chapman body chemistry is fully cooperative.

      • Does it always work for you?

        Sometimes I actually detest it. But when it is right, there is absolutely nothing better.

      • It definitely varies. (Or I vary?) Sometimes it’s quite orris-y and floral, and other times it seems to pull the whole galbanum/vetiver end. Most times, the whole spectrum is there. If my mood and my chemistry line up, it’s perfection. Otherwise, it’s nearly so. I’ve never hated it on me. I think my chemistry might be much more bland and dull and less-varying than yours.

        I can see it going horribly wrong, though, definitely. It’s no wallflower. No. It’s no Happy.

        I’m trying to remember. Did you and Duncan every entertain the idea of going somewhere other than Japan? I seem to remember Brazil coming up, actually, but that might have been in relation to something or someone else. I’m trying to picture you in Rio. Hmm. Would it have worked, do you think? Somehow, I’m thinking that Japan was the right choice, as much as it sometimes rubs . . .

  21. Grayspoole/Maria

    Dear Neil-
    What entertaining repost! I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry. I work with someone who has said her favorite perfume is Happy but I try not to get too close to her so I don’t think I have ever smelled it. Yes, she’s a toxic ex-sorority girl. I’ll have to get a whiff of Happy in the stores. Just typing that sentence made me want to rebel against everything Happy seems to represent, so I think I will drench myself in vintage Narcisse Noir or Bal a Versailles and annoy my colleagues in this morning’s meeting. Be sure to stay HAPPY, all!

  22. Happy is the perfume I immediately link to Hannah. Neil – it really did play a big part in my enjoyment of those first few months after she was born. Just as you mention in your piece – post shower, fresh (& as awake as you ever feel in those early baby days) I would wear it and it genuinely added to the intense ‘happiness’ I was feeling at the time. I can see it in my bottom drawer and remember the tingle of excitement I felt every time I wore it.
    Thanks to my sister-in-law for buying it for me – I didn’t expect to like it at all.

  23. fuckyouelegance

    Why be doubtful of 19? Believe me, 19 sublimates whoever dares to wear her.

    • I agree entirely but SOMETIMES a particular vintage might quite coalesce…

      • fuckyouelegance

        I was reading through the entries and rummaging through your posts mainly on chypres and green florals and then I found this, very funny. The american standard: them being the best… and they couldn’t take criticisms!

        Actually let me recount, I was constantly being reprimanded at my former workplace because of my perfume choices: orientals and chypres. Not that I have a problem with their inclination towards artificial freshness but coming from a bunch who doesn’t even appreciate complexity… D&G Light Blue. Come on! Victoria’s Secret. Oh please?! So yeah, give me a break.

      • Light Blue is pleasant and yet utterly repugnant. It is the smell of idiocy.

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