So Mark and Ida have filled your head with some of the sugarplums – excuse me – new releases – introduced at last week’s Sniffa and I wonder why neither spoke of the before and after.
My jaunt starts with a late train – nothing horrific, just late- leaving from what we now call “The Joe”.
On the platform a young man (young enough to be my son!) tries to chat me up. I sniff. Not bad but I don’t want to be encased in a metal tube with it for two and a butt hours either.
I move on and have one last cigarette and finish my coffee.
Hmmm. Males with nice leather briefcases. No cell phones at their ears.
::sniff:: N-i-c-e leather. Maybe I’ll try to get in their car.
An electronic whistle and the smell of metal on metal and we’re off.
The platform at NYC Penn Station always seems to smell of the totality of humankind offset by damp poplin and wool.
I wonder exactly how far below the water table I am, look both ways, throw my bag on the platform, “mind the gap”, and try to look like I know where I’m going. I need space and air.
For once I hit the right exit and head for a cab. A lady with a stroller on a breeze of pale green and gardenia. Happy baby and why not?
A rebuke from the cab line majordomo for waiting in line with the plebeians. Apparently there’s an unpublicized protocol for the differently abled, but ‘tis a lovely day and I get to look again at the post office and the roofs of the northerly buildings with water tanks on the roof and I try to recall what rust smells like.
The hotel smells of wax and fame with a whisper of old scandals. I make a couple calls and head out on reconnaissance but using the scenic route.
Park Avenue is bursting with tulips – bright reds and pinks – standing sturdily, planted in grids looking like the floral equivalents of Park Avenue matrons in times past. I head north a while longer and come upon roses. Humongous metal roses!!! They have thorns and ladybugs hidden, and (Dang!) a Japanese beetle?? I’m told one stands 25 feet. I want to climb on them and see them from above. I think it would have been grand if they had added a different rose scent to each installation – some L'Artisan Voleure de Roses here, a classic tea rose there, maybe some Bond No 9 West Side. That’s what it’s lacking. A multi-sensory experience.
BG beckons for Phase 1 of my mission – Chanel.
A lady of a “certain age”. Long silver hair, purple tights, pink shirt, a tunic of exquisite Belgian lace, leopard flats, a large red picture hat trimmed with flowers and feathers. There could be a bird there, but I’m not sure. Skinny as a plank and wearing fingerless red lace gloves. I want to stare or maybe giggle but I’m thoroughly entranced. She’s become loyal to Coromandel and nods with approval at my mission. She thinks it’s wonderful that I’m getting some Chanel No.22 for Mummy after all this time and agrees that the Gardenia may be a bit too too for her. She has a voice like honey and moves like quicksilver and is gone.
A pop-in at Bendel’s to put some thing aside. Nothing earth-shattering. All office appropriate. Sort of.
I surprise myself by becoming rather smitten with the SoOud line. I inhale them all and thank the perfume gods that no unsuspecting souls are there to watch me act like I’m on a nebulizer. I *should* like Hajj and Nur (Noor) but I keep going back to Burqa. I walk away. I return. Sweet desert sands! It’s amazing. I restrain myself wondering how my dear brother would react to a fume called Burqa.
So everyone Tweeted, IMd, and Facebooked (When *did* that become a verb?) so you have a handle on Sunday’s downtown day. I peeled off after lunch and with my trusty little walk map and my water bottle set off on my own little tour. I got misplaced a couple times and when I got tired found a street vendor or artist whose wares I liked, settled in on the nearest stoop, rested, and enjoyed.
Sunday evening was dinner and a drink or two in the hotel bar and I was entranced by all the pastel-y drinks in fancy glasses trimmed up with fruit kebabs. The mother-daughter team in the corner apparently dressed with the drinks in mind. Mom was in full bloom with her Thierry Mugler Angel while daughter drifted by in the age-predictable fruit-floral genre – maybe a Jennifer Lopez. It was pretty on her and blended nicely with the pastel drinkie-poo.
Napped for a bit and woke to news in capital letters. An address by the POTUS. A hit and mention of Special Operations and I start to cry and pace. And pace some more. The hotel hall is only so much good in this situation so I grab jacket, ID, and kickstand and then the door. I’m not sure where I want to go. I head south then west and find myself at the edge of a crowd in the Times Square area. They’re singing popular patriotic songs and chanting like this is a soccer tournament. I can’t stop crying and I don’t know why. There’s a Hasid with his prayer book and shawl slightly swaying to the rhythm of the phrases. I want to ask who it is he prays for but I daren’t interrupt.
There’s a vague smell of something burning and I worry. It’s the smell of newly lit, never been burned penny candles lit by people on the fringe of the crowd. They’re not singing or chanting…just staring and, like me, a few are crying. No real reason to cheer for a punctuation mark in our new way of life.
It’s 2AM and I smell metal and broken hearts and candle wax. White. For the innocents.
–Mary Beth Devine, Contributor