I don’t go all that often for lime, even if I have always loved the Sicilian citric thrill of the mandarin and lime opening accord of the classic Armani Pour Homme. I have never entirely taken to the ‘Gentleman’s Limes’ of the colonial tropics a la Penhaligons or Geo F Trumper for various reasons, one of them being that I don’t care for the darkgreenness of lime being combined with neroli, sandalwood or musk.
Lime on food is definitely blissful – with coriander on grilled swordfish, squeezed on Tom Yum Kun. It is also perfect in a cocktail. A slice of lemon is of course lovely in an iced gin and tonic but lime has the edge : cooler, more vitalizing.
On Monday night I met D after work outside The Bank in Kamakura, which we sometimes use as a rendezvous point : an old bank from the early twentieth century converted into a bar that is never open.
On this occasion it was, so we decided to go in for a quick G + T before dinner; the only ones in there, the shaded stone and the marble of the interior naturally cooling and quiet.
I actually happened to be wearing two lime perfumes, coincidentally, having one of those wonderful days where you are enjoying life tremendously and your perfume choices are just right; rocking the sillage as you walk along in the gorgeous afternoon sunlight counting your blessings and loving how you have decided to scent your person ( as I write this I am miserable on the train in the heavy rain on my way to the school in Yokohama, but let’s go back just two days).
Montale’s Aromatic Lime has become such an annual staple for me that I recently acquired another bottle, just as a reserve. Although the opening couple of minutes are a little on the ‘perhaps too much’ tip – almost chocolatey, like a lime infused ganache; soon this deep, multilayered perfume of effective performance becomes the most perfect chypric patchouli base that is enjoyable by itself, sprayed on clothes, or on one or two wrists but even better layered with other, lighter fragrances. For those who love Sisley Eau Du Soir and the like, this dry, highly long lasting faithful accomplice is essential; on Monday I layered it with my home-doctored 500 ml bottle of L’Occitane’s Eau Captivante, a fresh, slightly ozonic citrus/mint/basil to which I added copious doses of vetiver, grapefruit and lime essential oils, creating a refreshing, very lime-centred cologne that I have been wearing on a daily basis and loving ( and look at the colour of it! You KNOW I have been messing with it, greening it ; sometimes you have to, if you want a perfume to capture its name)
I am actually wearing Eau Captivante today as well, in my suit. Where I ordinarily would never have considered wearing anything sharp and zinging to the work place, one of the small advantages of this new Covid-19 pandemic era for the perfumist is that firstly, everyone is wearing masks, all the time (extraordinarily exhausting while teaching – at the weekends I am so depleted I can hardly move; all the exertion from trying to animate a sea of masked zombies with less oxygen than you actually need; I overcompensate by going overboard and arrive home a limp rag), but at least, with the windows open as well – even with the air conditioning on, not good for the environment I know but I vastly prefer it as air conditioning just truly doesn’t go with my physiognomy – I consider it the enemy; on the trains the breeze travels down the train so much better and comfortable than being openly refrigerated. As a result, I feel more free and easy about scent: whereas before I was always hyper aware of every last trace of base note or middle note left hanging in the air, now I am indifferent – and obviously it is the last thing that anyone is worrying about in the first place.
Here in Japan, people are still wary: you have to be. There has been a rise in cases in Tokyo and Yokohama with the full reopening of the country, though it is nothing like the situation in Europe and North and South America (David if you are reading this in São Paulo, I hope you and your loved ones are safe; I love a crushed ice, lime drenched Brazilian caipirinha too, while we are on the subject..,,,,,,would love to make it out there one day).
Compared to our long, dark but safe sequestration in Kamakura for three months, I must admit that I myself have generally been enjoying the return to the ‘real world’ over the last month, overall ; both exhausted and energized simultaneously. Yet obviously, a greater pall still hangs over much of the earth for so many geopolitical and social reasons, not even taking into account the damage wrought by what is increasingly being seen as a truly dangerous virus that ravages the human body in so many ways and will leave millions of people with compromised bodies and health systems, probably for many years to come. It is genuinely scary, and we are still in the tunnel.
Which is why it is so lovely, if you can, and are lucky enough to live in a place where the situation is relatively under control, to just saunter along, and try to forget about all of this for just one selfish evening ( having just purchased a vintage eau de parfum of Rochas’s beautiful Mystere from an an antique shop with your last money before pay day), on the way to a date with your other half, easing contentedly into the aura you have created with your scent choice lingering gorgeously on the summer air, lightly spiced, aromatic,vetiver, grapefruit and lime, to cut through the grime and the misery temporarily : fill the air around you with a moment of lung-fuelling freshness.