So there is this phrase I come across a lot on the various perfume boards, namely a "go-to" fragrance. It's an American phrase, with sporting origins:
"Being a player on an athletic team who is relied upon to make important plays, especially in clutch situations: the team's go-to receiver."
When used in a perfume context, this term seems to have two meanings: firstly, a "go-to" scent is one that "is relied upon" because it will fit in with a particular outfit or occasion. I don't think there is such a thing as a "go-to" scent for ANY occasion, like a master key or universal screwdriver, though I may come back and revisit that hypothesis in another post...I have certainly heard perfumistas speak of a "go-to" scent for the school run, or for meeting the mother-in-law, seducing the husband etc. So I gather that some people possess an assortment of "go-to" fragrances for which they "reach" without hesitation as though they were a tried and tested Litte Black Dress or a comfortable pair of pumps.
Which leads me to the other nuance of "go-to" which I detect, namely that when selecting her SOTD, the owner of the "go-to" fragrance goes to it pretty smartly. Time is short and people are busy and that is the whole point of its being "go-to". If a perfume can be relied upon and has been proven to work in that setting in the past, there is no need to deliberate or agonize about what to spray on as a finishing touch - you just GO TO IT.
Now the concept of "just going to" anything is positively alien to me. I am the world's worst deliberater and agoniser. I recently accumulated enough matchpots in the selection of wall colours for our living room that I could have painted the Forth Road Bridge with them. As often as necessary. It is well known amongst my friends that in a restaurant I will have to ask at least TWO questions about the menu, before tentatively making my choice. I once famously asked in a cafe what exactly "Mushrooms on toast" consisted of, to be told with remarkable equanimity on the part of the waitress: "Well, that would be mushrooms and two bits of toast."
The thing is, I am terrified of making the wrong choice about anything in life. I am a market researcher by profession, and clearly hardwired to investigate and compare all possible options with the rigour of a consumer watchdog programme before saying: "I'll have the blue one." It is a most inconvenient trait, to be truthful, and whilst I may end up with a more energy efficient fridge, a longer lasting washing up liquid or a car with the highest residual value, I am sure the immense mental energy expended in studying the minutiae of these products is shaving years off my life and my own residual value.
And it is the same with perfumes. The concept of "go-to" fragrances in the reliability sense is not lost on me. I can readily think of one that would work well in a business meeting or down the gym, if I went. No, the problem is that I suffer from acute option anxiety when confronted with the plethora of perfumes that could fit the bill in any given scenario. There are simply too many "go-to" fragrances in any category, rendering the term instantly null and void, as I remain rooted to the spot, racked with indecision.
Empathetic to the stress of my constant dithering, Mr Bonkers came to my rescue the other morning and devised a whole new fun way to pick what I shall pompously dub an "Aleatory Scent Of The Day". I asked him what I should wear that day and he shouted out from the bathroom: "Top shelf, third row from the right, second one back." I rushed to the fridge and started counting. Unfortunately those precise directions led me to the cardboard box containing dozens of samples. I reported this technical hitch back to Mr Bonkers. Quick as a flash, he barked out new instructions: "Same thing on the next shelf down."
Well, that worked, but the chosen scent was Bvlgari Jasmin Noir, about which I had recently been taken to task when Mr B claimed that I had inadvertently stealth perfumed his jumper sleeve. Apprised of this unhappy selection, in no time at all I had been issued with alternative instructions.
"Okay, the one in front of that." That grid reference proved to be EL Sensuous, which I had worn only the day before.
"Right then, bottom shelf, original order - third row from the right, second one back."
"Are you counting minis in that?" I inquired, as I spied a 10ml of Micallef Hiver at the head of that row.
"Certainly not. You're going two back - full bottles only - and I don't care if it is tomato ketchup, that is what you are wearing."
Reader, I am delighted to report that it was Jasper Conran Woman, which I would characterise as an upbeat "go-to" business/daytime scent. Like Cristalle, or Omnia Crystalline, or Jo Malone Lotus Blossom & Water Lily or Infusion d'Iris, say. Or Armani She White, thinking about it. But that's the thing - I must stop thinking about it. I must just trust the coordinates - or go quietly mad...
Hold on a minute - I just looked up "mushrooms on toast" in google images and there were loads of different presentation styles - creamy sauces, parmesan, chives, chilli. So, perhaps bizarrely, it is mushrooms in the end which totally vindicate my mental condition of being overwhelmed by diversity.
And I'll let Louis MacNeice, the poet from my home turf of Ulster, have the last word, for he clearly feels my pain too...: - )
World is crazier and more of it than we think,
Incorrigibly plural. I peel and portion
A tangerine and spit the pips and feel
The drunkenness of things being various.