The opening of SpellBound (Estée Lauder 1991) is bright followed by sugary fruit and an unbelievably delectable spiciness, with hauntingly beautiful floral notes following the initial shout of cardamom. On Frangrantica the note of narcissus isn’t listed as a dominant one, but on my skin it’s quite strong. Carnation is also a strong note in SpellBound. The drydown is a gentle bouquet with a bit less spice but a pleasant vetiver, muskiness emerges. SpellBound is another well named fragrance… It is a bit spellbinding actually…
Top notes: lemon, lily-of-the-valley, rose, apricot, fruity notes, and Brazilian rosewood. Middle notes: carnation, tuberose, lily, orange blossom, jasmine, narcissus, heliotrope, and cardamom. Base notes: cedar, vetiver, vanilla, civet, opoponax, musk, amber, benzoin and sandalwood.
Summer Breezes: Part III of IV
That night I wear a strapless dress that accentuates my shoulders and neck and Meghan wears jeans and a t-shirt. On the way out the door to the car, Chris, Meghan’s neighbor looks up at us from across the street as he’s doing some gardening and based on the look on his face I am quite sure we both look attractive.
When we arrive at the bar I stand up on my high-heeled feet and follow Meghan in quietly, observing as much as I can. We find a booth and sit down. It’s amazing how dark the place is inside, especially considering how light it still is outside.
I look around at the photos on the walls and the people sitting about. A woman, close to our age, comes up to the table and asks if we want anything to eat. We order two cosmopolitans and a plate of french fries.
In about five minutes two young men walk over to our table and ask if they can join us. They’re both at least somewhat good-looking. We decide to let them sit down.
“So where are you ladies from?” The guy sitting next to Meghan asks this and I notice that while he’s posing the question to both of us Meghan’s immediate response is much more pleasing to him. She answers with a sort of controlled glee, half wildly flashing her big blue eyes and thick lashes as she looks in his direction. I’m silent, but I smile.
He shifts his body almost entirely toward Meghan. They begin talking between themselves as the guy sitting next to me and I stare, silently watching their conversation. At first, of course, we try to engage with them, but at some point it becomes totally futile.
I feel trapped and can’t stand it any longer. I refuse to sit here for over ten minutes and just watch dispassionately as two people flirt with each other. I glance over at the guy sitting next to me but he’s just staring blankly at Meghan with his mouth hanging slightly open. I give up.
I announce rather suddenly but as politely as possible, “I need to use the restroom.” Everyone seems slightly startled, as if I had just broken something valuable. I turn my face and stare into the head of the guy sitting next to me, waiting for him to feel uncomfortable and realize he needs to get up so I can get out of our booth. He eventually notices and very slowly, and awkwardly gets up and out-of-the-way. I smile and announce, “Ok. I’ll be back.” As I walk away I can sense that nobody behind me is watching. I turn around and confirm my suspicions, then find my way into the ladies room.
Ahh, the ladies room. It’s strangely cool, smells amazingly clean and I notice that I’m the only one in there so I take a moment to check out my makeup. Everything looks as I think it should so I check my clothes, wash my hands (why not) and then walk out the door toward the booth. When I get closer I notice that only one person is sitting there and that it’s the guy I was sitting next to. I take in his face and notice that it looks quite calm and complacent. I sit down and successfully try to make eye-contact with him.
“Hey,” I say after we exchange pleasant smiles. He nods in response. “So, umm, where did my friend go?”
“She left with my friend.”
I feel uncool for feeling a bit hurt, but I do. I don’t have a ride home now and it seems less than thoughtful to just leave without telling me. I look at my mostly unfinished cocktail in front of me and drink it down rather quickly. Not much seems to happen. I’m intrigued. “Hey, I have a question.” I get the guy’s attention.
It hits me that this guy is actually kind of nice to still be sitting here. I mean, even if he’s staying for some purely selfish reasons, I’d like to think that he’s at least trying to be polite by still sitting here at this table and by doing so saving me some shred of dignity. Maybe we’re saving each other’s dignity actually…
“If I ask you to buy me another drink will you expect me to have sex with you?” Hearing the directness in my own tone leads me to wonder if that drink is affecting me more than I realize.
He smiles and laughs quietly to himself. I’m pleased and relieved. He seems slightly entertained.
“No. I mean, no. Why? Do you want another drink?”
“Yes, actually. This one barely did anything.”
“Ok.” He summons the waitress over to our table and orders me a gin and tonic.
“What’s in a gin and tonic?” I ask.
He looks at me very confused for a moment before answering in a guarded manner that suggests he thinks I’m making fun of him, “Gin and tonic. Just like the name says.”
“Right. That was a stupid question.”
He nods for a split second before stopping himself and staring straight ahead. He shrugs.
“You know I wasn’t making fun of you just now and I really am actually somewhat intelligent. My IQ has been tested and it’s somewhere in the 130’s. Well, with a margin of error one test said it was in the 120’s, and then another one said I was in the 130’s. I like to think it’s actually in the 130’s.” His eyes are glazed over. He looks totally disinterested. I don’t blame him. I stop.
After almost finishing my drink without any strings attached, I ask him about himself and we talk about that for a while. He seems to be a nice person. He’s studying to be a teacher at a nearby school and he likes indie music. Apparently he ordered me a gin and tonic because he thought it seemed like the right drink for me. We almost seem like friendly acquaintances. I say, “So, I have a question for you.”
“You know, it seemed like you really liked my friend from the way you were looking at her. I’m sorry if that’s true… And I’m sorry if that’s not true too because I’m not trying to pry.” He nods in affirmation and smiles a little before answering.
“Yeah, she was pretty hot.”
“She is really pretty.” I try to figure out how to carefully word my next thoughts to get the right feeling across. “You know, this is going to sound like I’m jealous or something, and I’m not. I promise. I’m just honestly confused.” He smiles with a look of some intrigue crossing his bold features.
“So, I’m not trying to be weird, but I have to ask, why is it that you guys didn’t hit on me much at all? Was it because I didn’t seem interested? Was it because she’s just that much hotter than me? And again, I’m not jealous. I’m just trying to find out the truth. Seriously.” He seems slightly less surprised by this than I would have imagined. He scratches his head for a second while blinking in contemplation.
“No. I mean, you’re hot too actually.” He says this in a ojective way and it makes me feel a bit better but I can tell he also has some sort of distant respect for me, almost as if I am separate somehow. Untouchable.
“Some girls just flirt more,” he says in a casual, but pleasant way. He continues, “See, guys think that there’s two kinds of girls. There’s the girls you want to fuck but not necessarily have a relationship with. The hotter the better in that case. Then there’s the girls you might consider dating or marrying someday. You’re clearly one of those girls. And I’m not saying that guys wouldn’t want to sleep with you,” he looks off and seems slightly taken by the thought for a quick second but collects himself before adding, “but you’re just not like that. You’re smart too. Anyone can see that.”
“Ok,” I said. I thought about arguing the whole “madonna/whore” feminist critique of society but I didn’t want to embarrass him if he had no idea what I was talking about and if he did know that discussion I worried it could turn into an unpleasant debate I wasn’t particularly in the mood for so I just stayed silent, except I couldn’t stay completely silent so I added, “You know that’s incredibly limiting. But thank you for being honest.” His response was to shrug.
It all felt so utterly dull, but I wanted to both cry and punch something at the same time. How could it be so stupid? How could this be all there was? Even if this was all there was just tonight, well, that was bad too… I looked at his face. I studied his eyes and his body. He wasn’t unattractive, but what was I supposed to do? Throw myself at him? The thought seemed pretty unappealing for countless reasons and furthermore, even if I did it and he was interested what exactly would happen? An awkward nothing. A totally big nothing because, regardless of my other scruples, I would be bored with the entire concept of “throwing myself at him” in seconds and I didn’t believe in boring myself. I lived by that at my core for better or worse. Maybe he was right and I wasn’t “that kind of girl,” but I wasn’t the other either… Anyway, whatever it truly meant to be “that sort of girl” and however much more fun they seemed to possibly be having I didn’t want to compromise my principles. Everything would be so much more sad and lifeless without them. They were there when no one else was. But, really all of it, everything seemed off the mark. And this place was ugly, and I was drunk and I just wanted to go home.
“Ok. Well, I’m going to go now, I think.”
“Cool. I’m going to go hang out with my friends standing over there by the dart board.” I turn around to see where he’s pointing and find a group of people milling around a dart board near the bartender. They all look like they’re having a pleasant time.
I stand up and realize that I feel a little shaky in my heels. I steady myself on the back of my chair. He stands up too and straightens out his shirt, glancing off towards his friends. I pull out my cell phone for some reason. It’s my security blanket, I suppose. He smiles for a brief second in my direction and says, “Nice meeting you,” then he pauses before asking, “What was your name?”
“Nice name. I’m Pete.” He shakes my hand.
I smile in response and then he’s off with a quick smile in response too, and a, “Have a nice rest of your night.”
I look around the bar. I summon my strength and manage to walk towards the door without so much as a tiny stumble, grab the handle and open it enough to walk out. As I’m walking out I realize how much the conversation I just had is still stinging me and when I’m outside I also realize it’s gotten late. It’s totally dark, but the air feels delicious. There’s a slight breeze and a gentle dampness in the air.
I walk towards the exit of the parking lot, and look around me. It’s unclear to me which direction to walk in but for better or worse I’m intoxicated and slightly angry. So, I pick the left way because it just feels like the way I’m supposed to be going. I walk down the road for almost a block, trying to be on the correct side, stay as far off towards the trees as possible and yet avoid traffic. Then it hits me that I’m all alone walking down a dark and unfamiliar road at night drunk and I start to cry, but I can’t. A pain is within me and it feels truthful and haunting, but then I notice that I’m going off in the wrong direction, further away from town because I see a barn in the distance. I consider calling someone on my phone but there’s no one to call. I feel that pain again and then I run across the road after looking both ways and head back in the other direction.
I walk about half a mile before my feet start to really hurt. I’m developing blisters. I look down at the pavement and consider taking off my shoes. I take off one shoe and test the ground with my foot. It’s cool and surprisingly comfortable compared to my shoes. I take off both shoes. I start walking. Not terrible. I mean, there’s twigs and rocks everywhere that sort of hurt, but it’s not bad and it’s better than walking in heels with blisters.
After another half a mile I am starting to enjoy myself. I stare up at the sky and see stars everywhere. They’re stunning and combined with the moon I can see almost everything around me. It’s a big, warm, gentle moon. I keep walking, noticing that the breeze has kept any insects away, although the sound of crickets is loud and merry.
When I finally reach my neighborhood after about 45 minutes I feel a mixture relief and sadness because it occurs to me that this night air, the moon and the stars are the best part of my day and I don’t want to go inside. I want to stay with them.
I find my front lawn and the grass feels cool, wet and fantastic on my bare feet. I look up into the sky, feel a bit dizzy, and can almost imagine that I feel the Earth spinning under it all but I’m also still tipsy. It feels lovely. I throw myself back against the ground and lay looking upwards at the stars and smile. I feel almost happy for the first time in weeks.
It’s been interesting walking around St. Paul (where we’ve lived) without a wedding ring with my son. I did that yesterday for a few blocks (I actually can’t find my ring) and it was painful and weird.
I love where I’ve lived, but people really do treat you differently when you’re wearing a ring here apparently. Growing up here I never fit in and could hardly wait to leave, but I recently I had felt less awkward living here with my husband and I thought it was just a change of perspective on my part, but maybe not… At one point a random guy on a bicycle seemed to be checking me out but then he seemed to gather that I had a son and when he got closer (and presumably saw that I wasn’t wearing a ring) he seemed to suddenly look very stuffy and almost disdainful. Yes, I can almost guess what you’re thinking – it’s all in my head. No!! I’m telling you, it’s not… When I wear my ring men look at me with a certain detachment but strangely seem more comfortable “checking me out” than otherwise and I find that repulsive frankly (sorry if you’re a guy reading this who does that – not trying to judge you). I mean, seriously, is it “safe” to look if I belong to someone else? Are people being really sleazy/stupid and it makes me seem more desirable? Does it make me seem more valuable if I have a metaphorical “stamp” of another man on my hand? Grr! Sadly, it’s enough to make me want to wear a ring even if I’m divorced someday just to avoid the emotional nonsense (not to attract people though of course)… Yet, if a potential positive suitor in that scenario saw the ring and viewed it as a deterrent then that could be a problem… And, I mean, sure, I should be strong in that case and not wear one I suppose. Right now I can wear one still technically, but if I was divorced it would just be totally lying essentially I think.
People can so snobby in their own unique way here. I guess that’s something I won’t miss about this area. For as long as I can remember the culture here is such that it’s very “liberal” in many ways, but some traditions are still very important. People have a mix of many perspectives that could seem contradictory to some but here in Minnesota aren’t. For example, people wouldn’t reject a couple for being gay in any way based on their sexual orientation but that couple would need to be in a serious committed relationship, have “nice” jobs, live in the suburbs with at least one “nice” car (preferably two), wear “nice” clothes, be members of some “nice” protestant church, send their kids (they would be expected to have kids if they were married) to the best local schools and smile brightly in all their family photos, which should ideally be sent out every winter around Christmas, although the cards should only be labeled “Seasons Greetings” regardless of the fact that they identify as Christians and only have one or two friends who are of another religion or are atheists. But we’re not the stereotypical American “liberal elitists” either, just to clarify. Oh no… No, no, no! People here aren’t supposed to be anything that diverges from perfectly “nice” (too “nice” is bad too). It’s important to be in the middle (ok, middle left politically), to be friendly, but not too friendly and of course be well off, but not really wealthy (despite how very impressed people here might be, for the majority of Minnesotans you are automatically suspect and very potentially not “down to earth enough”). That being said, it’s a very pleasant place to live in many ways, but walking around yesterday reminded me of how little I fit in on my own. Maybe that was a good thing to be reminded of (and no I’m not just playing games in my head to feel better about leaving).