Jane Green
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June 28th, 2016

Jane Green's PerfumeHours spent spritzing with perfume: 2

Hours spent spritzing with more perfume: .5

Hours spent telling stories: .2

Hours spent writing: 0

A little while ago I was asked to tell a story for The Moth Radio Hour, which was recorded in front of a live audience at the Cooper Union in New York.

Last week, I did it again, joining four other storytellers on a stage at an old and lovely theatre, this time in Boston. We all met up the night before for a rehearsal at a local radio station, then went out for a group dinner. The team at The Moth were fantastic, as were the other storytellers: a Jamaican writer, a doctor, a Puerto Rican actress, and a fireman.

I spent a great deal of time getting ready on the night itself. I hadn’t brought nearly enough clothing options because Beloved insisted on sharing a suitcase and once my hairdryer, five hairbrushes, two make-up bags and two pairs of boots were in, there was little room for anything else.

But the outfit I had selected looked good, the boots were perfect, and I seemed to be having a somewhat decent hair and make-up day. I spritzed myself with the only perfume I ever wear, and left the room.

In the lobby, one of the other storytellers eyed me warily, before approaching.

“Someone’s wearing perfume,” she said, looking around at each of us, as a wave of guilt washed over me.

“It’s definitely me,” I said, because whilst not generally overwhelming, my perfume is distinctive. I first smelled it years ago on one of my closest friends, and it was one of the most delicious things I had ever smelled. I bought it the next day, and it is the only perfume that consistently gets comments and compliments, everywhere I go. It is called Carnal Flower, and is made by Frederic Malle. It was apparently made for Frederic’s aunt, Candace Bergen, and the one time I met her, when I shared my perfume, her eyes lit up.

She approached me gingerly and took a sniff, before waving her hand in front of her nose.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered as she backed away in fear. “I’m allergic.”

I apologized profusely, but didn’t quite know what to do.

“It’s okay,” she smiled. “I’ll just take a separate cab.”

We got to the theater and found seats had been reserved next to each other. She jumped up and moved to the other end of the row. I was feeling awful. My poor perfume, that had never harmed anyone before, was now causing mayhem. I started to think that perhaps it was far stronger than I had ever thought, and perhaps I should think about eschewing it altogether. 

It was my turn to take the stage. I jumped up, took the mic, and spent twelve minutes recounting the story of the affair I didn’t have. My husband, who was present both for the affair I didn’t have, and the telling of it, couldn’t be seen from the stage, but I’m pretty sure he was smiling proudly.

When I finished, the MC climbed up and as I walked off the stage he leaned in to the microphone and said this: “I know you won’t know this about Jane Green, but take it from me, she smells fantastic!”

It made my day. It also quite possibly made the maker of my perfume very happy, for I shall be continuing to buy it in bulk, as often as I can.

(This article was first published in The Lady Magazine.)


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