My friend came for lunch on Sunday, on her way to a blind date near her home in Lancashire with a man she met on the Internet (which seems to be the technologically savvy way to find a partner these days).
Obviously, she needed a spot of lunch to quell her fluttery stomach (I remembered to keep the raw onion component of the salads to an absolute minimum); then she needed a mirror for the frequent re-application of make up (it was a real eye opener to me to learn how many discrete cosmetic zones there are within the brow area!), not forgetting access to the bathroom for additional nose powdering.
And naturally she also needed a sympathetic ear to offload her mounting nerves about this imminent and momentous encounter. For Sharon had been chatting to this chap over the phone and by text for some six weeks before they finally agreed to meet. And I guess the date wasn't going to be blind exactly, as they had exchanged photos already (assuming he had selected snaps of himself that bore a reasonable degree of verisimilitude.)
Half an hour before my friend was due to arrive, I sent her the following text:
"Choose perfume with immense care. : - )"
This prompted an instant phone call, to tell me that she had already applied her chosen fragrance, and to challenge me to guess what it was. I reviewed her smallish full bottle collection quickly in my mind. Until she fell under my influence, her default/signature scent had been Gwen Stefani's L.A.M.B, but I had since sold or gifted to her - or persuaded her to go to London herself to buy - a number of other fragrances.
"Er....as it is early doors, maybe Eclat d'Arpege - or a dab of DKNY Gold?"
"No!" she rejoined triumphantly, with a pronounced seductive burr in her voice: "I'm wearing Scandal!"
Okay, I thought, flattered that she would choose a scent to which I had introduced her, and which she had recently elevated to the status of new all-time favourite. Yet at the same time I was slightly concerned that this luxurious, animalic diva of a scent might be a bit of an overkill for late afternoon in a retail park near Bolton.
In the end we agreed that as she had applied the scent at 12.30pm, and the date was not slated till 6pm, there was ample time for this heady white floral blend to die down to a whisper. A "whiff" of Scandal, if you will.
By 3pm, my friend was getting antsy and was about ready to leave, to give herself ample time at her destination to scope the area, check out potential restaurants for later on, comb her hair, re-touch her make up, practise deep breathing etc. Before she left my house, though, she was keen to re-apply some perfume from my own bottle of Scandal. Now how many of her mates could offer a pitstop with such comprehensive facilities?
And so it was that, having already calculated the sillage projection purely based on a full application of scent at 12.30pm, I now had to estimate its likely projection factoring in a top up application at 3pm. I supervised this procedure, allowing a few very short sprays to the neck area and one on each wrist. Pronouncing my friend "good to go", I forecasted that by 6pm the scent would have dried down - perhaps not to a whisper exactly - but to a tone which could still be classed as sotto voce.
As it turned out, Sharon and her date both had the same idea about getting to the area early to get their bearings, and bumped into each other outside Next at approximately 4.30pm. Whereupon all my precisely calibrated projections suddenly went straight out the window, but from what I can gather, it didn't matter - she and the other party got on famously, and I am eagerly awaiting further bulletins.
Hmm, maybe I should offer my services as a "sillage statistical modelling consultant" to operators of matchmaking sites. Because a pretty face and a good personality are all very well, but there is clearly more of a science to this dating lark, and perfume may yet turn out to be its fragrant fulcrum....