Scents of socializing again

Now that restrictions have been lifted in my area and most people in our work circles are vaccinated, we’re starting to feel somewhat “normal” again. I met some of my coworkers today for our first team lunch since before the pandemic (and for me, as a new-ish employee, ever) and we all seemed to be adjusting to socializing again. Friendly but cautious in maintaining personal space.

I wore Annick Goutal Ninfeo Mio because I thought it was innocuous enough that it wouldn’t offend anybody, but distinctive enough for a first impression if anyone were to catch a whiff. The group of us sat outdoors, and soon enough, I could smell others’ fragrances. The first was something familiar that I couldn’t name—it may well have been a deodorant rather than a cologne. When the wind started blowing from my left, I caught something that I recognized as a Le Labo perfume, but couldn’t remember which one at first… definitely one I’d spent some time with… was it Rose 31? A few more sniffs and I realized—it was Thé Noir 29.

Now this is where my head started spinning because the person I guessed as most likely the one wearing it was my boss (based on the timing of the waft being after she first sat down, having arrived slightly late). Flash back 2 years to when I first got into perfumery and started wearing a different sample from my Le Labo discovery kit to the office every day. One day, my boss at the time really liked what I was wearing, and it was Thé Noir 29. She then bought a sample online, loved it, and it became her signature scent. How ironic would it be if, once again, I reported to someone who wore Thé Noir 29?

I noticed that no one complimented anyone on anything related to appearance, though, despite seeing each other for the first time in over a year or ever, so didn’t want to ask right away. Over the course of our lunch, the wind changed direction, and I couldn’t smell it anymore, but I couldn’t forget it. Only towards the very end of the gathering did I ask the 3 people sitting to my left, “Is one of you wearing Thé Noir by any chance?” They all, including my boss, looked confused and didn’t seem to know what I was talking about. I repeated the name and was just about to give up and dismiss the whole thing when the male coworker sitting directly next to me suddenly said, “Oh, Thé Noir? I am!” He then explained to the others that Le Labo is a brand that makes all unisex fragrances, to which I added that all fragrances are really all unisex, with which they all said they agreed. And that was the end of the perfume conversation.

It was really nice to see everyone, and I’m starting to look forward to more in-person interactions in the next few months if things go as anticipated. I’ve been shopping for clothes that I can wear back to the office, and after multiple disappointing trips to the malls and outlets, I’ve recently discovered the joy of digging through consignment store racks. Every piece comes from a different time and place, and I’m far more likely to find something I like (from a long-gone time when I had better luck in the malls and outlets) because the current trend of baggy, highwater pants and short tops simply does not work for me.

3 thoughts on “Scents of socializing again

  1. I know that people felt bad having to stay at home. For me, surprisingly, thinking about going back to office creates anxiety. Surprisingly – because my whole life I was an extrovert and enjoyed communicating with people. We’ll see how it goes once we all start going back.

    I would have be ecstatic have I recognized someone’s perfume “in the wild”: 15+ years ago it was quite a usual thing for me since I knew most of the contemporary perfumes used by “masses.” These days Angel is probably the safest bet in recognition, everything else might be anything – too many similar perfumes based on the same aroma chemicals.


    1. It creates anxiety for me too, mostly from thinking about getting into a routine that involves more prep and travel time than working from home. Most likely we’ll move to a “hybrid” model where we go in a few days a week but not every day.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Delightful way to re enter a group setting. Using a discreet amount of exactly the right thing is a real puzzle of calibration and very satisfying when you get it right. For me it’s an instant uplift and feels like a good omen for the day to catch a beautiful whiff in such a random way.

    Liked by 1 person

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