Sunday, January 19, 2014

Light Blue

(Author's Note: I first thought to write about this in early October 2013.  Without the time to do so, I jotted down a few notes, with the intention of finishing it later.  Now, it's certainly later.)

Back when I bought it and started wearing it, I never knew that a knock-off body spray would have significance in my life beyond being a little something special for myself every now and then.  I selected it because it smelled nice and wasn't too expensive.  There's nothing really significant about that, and that's how I expected things would remain.  That's kind of a foolish notion, now that I think about it.  I've known for a very long time how scents can combine with memory and meaning to create powerful nostalgia. Yet, I didn't expect to encounter it again.

When I started spending time with the guy who'd later be an ex-boyfriend, I was invariably affected by the scent of his cologne when I'd discover it still lingering on my hair or clothing, well after a hug or other embrace.  It was both a reminder of the time we'd recently spent together and an accellerant that fueled my physical and emotional desire for him. Even though I thrilled in catching the aroma of his cologne on me after a date, it was also a torment. It was a reminder that the object of my desire was physically out of reach. In that respect it was torture, but certainly not a torture that I'd ever refuse.  It was an exquisitely delightful torture that I was thoroughly grateful to have. As an added bonus, by knowing the extents of my reaction to his lingering scent, this also seemed to serve as a distinct turn-on for him.

Then one day, when I was hanging out with both him and his fiancee, my ears perked up when I heard her screechily lament, about his cologne, "all you wear is Light Blue". It was in that moment that I felt a strange connection to him that, while it was admittedly silly, also felt like a coincidence that wasn't purely due to chance. I hadn't realized that the cologne he wore was Dolce & Gabbana's Light Blue for men.  I'd never smelled it before meeting him and neither had he mentioned the name of the cologne nor had I asked. I was struck by this sense of connection because my body spray was a knock off of Light Blue for women.  It was a small thing, to be sure, but had me reeling for a moment, nonetheless.  I said nothing to him of the connection, not then and not since. Instead I held it as a completely private treasure.

Over time, I noticed a few more complaints of the same nature come from his fiancee.  Before long, it was revealed that she'd picked out a new cologne for him and wanted him to wear it.  The next time I saw him he was wearing the new scent and asked for my opinion.  As I breathed it in, I noticed that it seemed quite soft; reminiscent of baby powder and a kind of delicateness that is decidedly non-masculine.  I was honest in my opinion, telling him that I found it to be too soft for him, and did not prefer it to his old cologne.  She beckoned him over to test the scent herself and proclaimed, "I like it."

On our next date I discovered that when I got close enough to smell the new scent, to a degree I was actually repulsed.  I wanted the scent that fanned the flames of my desire, not the scent that made me think of him as fragile and diminuitive.  While trying not to be insensitive or demanding, I asked if he would wear his old cologne for our dates. I apologized sincerely for not liking his new cologne.  I really wished that I didn't dislike it so. In a disappointed tone he agreed to "try not to wear it."

The end of our relationship came quite shortly thereafter.  In the days that followed I thought back over all of this and considered whether perhaps the change was contrived by his fiancee. Like most things, I never came to a definitive conclusion in which to decide to believe. I recognize it to be possible, and even likely, considering the many supporting factors and subtle signs -- things like their degree of information sharing about outside relationships, their apparent power dynamic, the signs of passive aggressive jealousy, posession and territoriality.  Still, I have trouble believing this to actually have been the case.  Often I experienced self-talk along the lines of "you're just being paranoid", While there may be truth in that notion, it also makes me wonder if it is really a kind of self-gaslighting.  But that's an entirely off-topic exploration waiting to happen.

About a month or two after the end of it all, as the holiday season started to roll around (almost immediately following the conclusion of Halloween, of course), the usual onslaught of holiday-specific advertising started to ramp up.  Among the ads for shavers and gift-wrapped luxury cars, ads for perfumes/colognes also invariably appear. It was when I saw an ad for Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue that all of this made sense in another light: what the product apparently means to the marketers.  Both print and television ads for Light Blue present swimwear-clad, bronze-skinned, ever-so-slightly sandy models interacting provocatively near the ocean shore.  There are rocks and sea spray, sailboats and other images of effortless power.  The ads evoke a message of summer passions.  I don't know how long D&G has marketed Light Blue in this fashion, but it seems quite apropos of my summer love.  Clearly, and sadly, summer is over.

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