i only wear white when it rains

because blogging is cheaper than therapy

sparkling citrus and the ephemerality of life

with 3 comments

Between high school and leaving for UF, I worked in the radiology department of Naples Community Hospital. When most girls my age were serving Monte Cristos at Bennigans and earning 10 times more, I was appreciating the sterility of the hospital environment and working in a place where no one wondered about my mental health as I wiped down phone surfaces with alcohol preps. Plus, I just couldn’t bear the thought of washing the chipotle chicken sandwich stench out of my hair each night.

My job was fairly simple. I was to do anything the radiologists asked me to. Often it was hanging x-rays or grabbing bagels from the cafeteria. But sometimes it was just lounging around in a dark reading room, regaling them with stories of what my friends and I did over the weekend.

“Your generation is the generation of useless conversation,” Dr. Napoleon once quipped.

I don’t think I realized at the time that this midget (sorry, little person) was insulting me, and instead went on to debate the merits of hosting the “Billy Can’t Hang” beach volleyball tournament on Saturday instead of Sunday because we wouldn’t have to wait until 11 am to buy the keg.

One of the daytime assistants who was a dead ringer for Laverne of Laverne and Shirley was a bit resentful of me showing up to relieve her each afternoon, five minutes late with sand from the beach still caked on the bottom of my flip flops. Her favorite pastime was reminding me about the dress code policy. More often than not the radiologists (yes, all men) would defend my mini-skirts and sundresses while Laverne shot 45-year-old, single-mom daggers in my direction.

I distinctly remember Laverne making a snide comment one day about how well the doctors treated me. “What kind of perfume do you wear that has these guys under your spell?” she snorted.

Amazingly, this remark, meant only to imply I wasn’t worthy of their attention, actually had me considering my perfume.

I was a loyal user of Victoria’s Secret Sparkling Citrus body splash. Just the right blend of fresh lemon to leave you smelling clean, without any Lysol undertones.  I contemplated whether I had hit on some powerful pheromone that had professional, educated, married men trying to talk me into undressing for test films on the CT scanner. Ignoring the disturbing fact that my mother wore the same scent, I couldn’t help but wonder what sort of olfactory influence Sparkling Citrus was having on my ability to attract the opposite sex.

It wasn’t until much later that I realized what was attracting them: I was 18.

Nevertheless, I maintained my loyalty to Sparkling Citrus for many years. It had become my “signature scent.” That was until about 1995 when I discovered Victoria’s Secret was discontinuing it due to lack of sales. I tried to boost their revenue by snagging every bottle from Jacksonville to Key West, but supplies eventually were depleted, leaving my mom and I bitching about how only products we like are discontinued. And not seeing myself as a sun-ripened raspberry kind of girl, I embarked on a mission to find my new scent with the same dread one approaches her GREs.

When I got down to my last bottle of body splash, I began to ration my usage. I’d reach for it before heading out on a date and actually wonder, “Is this guy really Sparkling Citrus-worthy?”

More often than not I’d decide to save it for a “special occasion.” Because I had already lost my virginity, very few Citrus-worthy occasions cropped up between 1995 and my wedding in 2001. It wasn’t that I didn’t have an enormity of “special occasions,” just that there always seemed to be something “more special” coming down the pike. It’s like the radio station phenomenon: you’re listening to a song that you love, but change the station halfway through confident there is a song on another station that you’ll like even more. This is either a common occurrence among most people, or a debilitating character flaw for which I should seek therapy.

As years went by and it became evident Victoria’s Secret never was resurrecting my body splash, my lone bottle was used less and less.

It survived a honeymoon in Italy in 2001, an anniversary trip to the Bahamas, six moves, the premature labor of my daughter (I remember splashing some on my elephant-like neck before heading to the hospital at 3 am), and just a handful of moments in between.

Recently, I caught a glimpse of the nearly empty bottle amidst a rather vast collection of runners up. With great reverence and nostalgia I unscrewed the cap, closed my eyes and took a big whiff. Waiting to be transported back to a time when I counted sit ups, not crow’s feet.

I was horrified at what I smelled. An acrid mix of turpentine and nailpolish remover without a single trace of lemon fresh.

In this last decade or so of me waiting for that “special occasion” my Sparkling Citrus had withered away, leaving behind something closer to my mom’s Jean Nate perfume from the 70s that came in an umbrella stand sized bottle.

And all those missed opportunities to sparkle were lost because I was too busy waiting for something more.

It’s clear to me now that when you change the radio station and find that the next song is no better than the first, you can always turn back. But sometimes…the song is over.

Written by I only Wear White When it Rains

January 12, 2011 at 9:28 am

3 Responses

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  1. Love this post, Kim! So true…the grass isn’t always greener! Very well said!!

    Amy Friedman

    January 13, 2011 at 9:42 am

  2. OH MY GOSH!!! Same scent, little different story!!! There is still a trace of lotion in the bottom of the bottle of VS Sparkling Lotion I just CAN NOT throw away! I pulled it out from far in the back of my cabinet to share the scent w/my grown daughter who replied, “OH I REMEMBER THAT SMELL!” Her memories started to flood in just as mine did, just a little different. I so with that scent would be reintroduced.
    Oh Well!

    De Bergeron

    December 25, 2011 at 8:55 pm

  3. I too was devastated when they took sparkling citrus away from me,without any warning it was off the shelves.it was the best scent ever,i would bath in the shower gel,spray the fragrance spray on,and sprinkle the powder on my bedsheets and sleep like a baby,to this day i avoid VS because of them taking away something such a part of me.i too treasure a bottle of talcum powder,i never use it just open it and smell it sometime with great nostalgia,i have the splash with @ 1 inch in it,that i just can not throw out.when i asked why it was discontinued,they said it did not sell well( go figure)i thought it was the best scent ever,i have spent more than 15 years trying to replace it,the closest i could find was charlie sunshine,but still not the same.i never thought there were others who felt such a loss and betrayal as me.i found this blog doing a search,to see if maybe someone had a stockpile of all the discontinued scents,they must do something with them.well i have found a little comfort knowing i am not totally crazy!!!!!!!!!!
    p.s.the only other frangrance i love is pheromone by marilyn miglin.i have worn it for 25 years.i even thought of sending my powder to a lab to see if it could be duplicated~talk about desperate.

    sue ellen mcgoey

    December 30, 2012 at 1:42 am

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