A place with nothing but unappealing, cheapo knick-knacks, hideous furniture, second hand electrical devices, bits and bobs, ugly jewellery boxes…..a place I would never even sully your mind with for its intrusion of drab, functional banality, for fear your very eyes would suddenly fester on their stalks.
I suppose we had wandered in because we once got a fake leather sofa from there, because D has an eye for a bargain, and because they had once gotten hold of some coconut incense that for a while I then became vaguely addicted to.
As we were about to leave, my head turned, my synapses connected, my heart lurched, and I let out that familiar OH MY GOD, as my startled orbs alighted, dazzled, on a very cherished sight in a cabinet right in front of the cash register that I had somehow, in my visual boredom, overlooked: a classic, vintage, Guerlain box of extrait.
Dear reader, if you have never had the delight of owning and treasuring one of these black and white dazzling preciousnessess, I urge you now to feast your eyes on the beauty of these boxes, the almost classically Grecian aspect that surely inspired Diptyque in their own design, and which I could just sit and gaze at for hours (the shape of the gold! the lettering! the way the weird inner box, which I have never seen anywhere before, a very sixties/seventies design of silvery rain and green, nature-laden splotches of flora, is hidden, counterintuitively, in terms of design, within).
See, like one on slow motion autopilot, hypnotized, how my hand reaches out intuitively with not even a nanosecond of hesitation, and grasps this treasure firmly, ready to fight off any (non-existent) contenders; expecting, with guzzling excitement, for it it be my beloved Vol De Nuit.
But no: to my bewilderment (how can this be?!!) it is almost even better.
By the very next second my ravaged old brain has understood, magnificently, that this is not Vol De Nuit but CHAMADE.
Look at those two words in juxtaposition, words I have never had the luck to see before in all my years of Japanese vintage hunting. Never. So rare, so beautiful.
And cheap as chips.
Yes, how much was it again? Three thousand, six hundred and fifty yen? Twenty one pounds? Thirty five dollars? For a rare, vintage, unopened bottle of possibly the most beautiful perfume ever made?
I do think so, yes. Oh yes, sir, I do.
Bought, bagged and thrust into my coat pockets, I emerge from this shambolic, unlikely contender of a shop, my Sunday quite made, all thoughts of knee pain and work issues banished in an instant by the perfume that rests in my pocket, which I am now lifting to my nose on the street, having carefully, lovingly, set it free from its entrapment, possibly sealed within since it was purchased by someone somehow just too blind to see its beauty.
It uncoils itself, rises up from its liquid, and lets its green, blue, heartbreaking emanations reach my amygdala: ah yes, that’s Chamade alright, in all its Turkish rose glory, more concentrated, intensified; more hyacinthine, more galbanumy, a more direct arrow to the rabid fetishist’s, softeningly perfuming coeur.
The perfume sits in its exquisite box on the table of the Chinese restaurant we end up in, as the D and I while away the afternoon in a leisurely fashion, relaxed and dreamily, and post-bath later I wear it in bed, the room full of the scent of blooming, enamoured hyacinths….