An empty perfume bottle

I cried in Sephora today.


Since I was 18 I don’t think I’ve had to buy myself any perfume. And if I have, it’s because my budget allowed and I had an hour or so to kill in Duty Free.

Perfume has always been a gift from my boyfriend, lover or whoever I was dating. And my long-deceased dad.

I’m a Chanel girl through and through. Coco Chanel, No. 5, Coromandel, Allure – any of those will do.

I remember years ago an ex buying me something that wasn’t one of those four on a business trip because he liked the packaging on another box.

I was devastated when I opened it. I can’t remember the specific brand but it smelled like icky flowers, and I’m a musk & spice kinda gal. I handed it back. Politely, of course.

He held the open package in one hand, “What am I suppose to do with this?”

“Give it to your mum?” I replied.

“I think you’re being ungrateful,” he slimed.

“Don’t mess with a girl and her perfume,” I purred, as only a confident woman in her early thirties can. “You’ll live to regret it.”

We never had sex again (ok, maybe we did but the relationship didn’t last much longer).

Twitter followers of @hollywoodspinny will know that things have been financially very tough this year. Dates have been thin on the ground too (aka non existent).

And so, around three months ago, I ran out of perfume.

Much as I hate to admit it, I haven’t been able to afford to replace the one and only remaining bottled of Coco Chanel in my life.

And so every day, I pick up the empty bottle on my make-up table, look at it wistfully, and say to myself, “Spinny, how has it gotten to this stage. Where you have no man in your life to buy you any perfume, and worse – much worse – you’re so poor, you can’t replace it yourself?’

That empty perfume bottle has become a symbol of what I perceive as my failure as a career woman – or simply, a woman.

Because people, I do feel like I have failed. No matter what spin I put on it, right now, THIS MINUTE, I feel like I have failed.

If you can’t support yourself and you can’t find love, what exactly are you doing on this planet?

*pulls back*

Ok, ok I know things are not black and white, more shades of grey and that horrible blue-grey that Mini Coopers seem to be painted these days, but thems the facts.

So today, Mum and I are wandering around the Beverly Center, and out of the blue (not the Mini Cooper blue) she says this, “I want to buy you a bottle of perfume. I’ve noticed that you don’t have any, only that one empty bottle, and I know how much you love wearing perfume, so let’s get you some.”

She looked at me. I think she was waiting for me to argue against it. But I didn’t. I couldn’t.

I was so touched by her observation, and her kindness.

We walked to Sephora, and I made a beeline for the Chanel display.

I picked up a bottle of No.5 and put it back because, you can’t wear No.5 during the day. It’s too heavy. And really, Coco Chanel is also a tad on the musky side but I love it, so I use it sparingly.

I selected a 1.2oz bottle of eau de parfum, and held it in my hands.

And then I burst into tears. Proper tears. Because it suddenly became clear that my mother has become the only person in my life who wants to buy me perfume.

She knows me well enough to know that it’s important to me.

“It’s just a little thing,” she said, her eyes welling up too.

But we both knew it’s wasn’t.

When we got home, I threw the empty bottle away.

Like a skewed spinster coronation, I reverentially placed the new bottle on my dresser.

And I cried again.


8 Comments on “An empty perfume bottle”

  1. I use barbecue sauce. It attracts a lot of men. Chubby men, but men, nevertheless.

    Seriously, this is your best post ever. I hate saying that because it’s so heartbreaking, but that’s what good shit is all about.

  2. Thanks. I’ve been finding it so hard to write recently but the floodgates opened this afternoon. I think it was all that crying. After I told Mum the honest truth about what has been going here, I sat down and wrote the post. It felt good, and I really appreciate your comment.

    Sidenote: I love BBQ. And (semi) chubby men (let’s face it, I’m hardly a sylph myself).

    And now I want ribs.


  3. The most pain begets the best art and that’s just the way it is. Have courage Spinny, you’ll come out on the other side better, stronger and holding a delish rib.

  4. Natacha said it: a heart wrenching post that serves as testament to your eloquence and proves your strength. It took less effort to build the pyramids.

  5. Princess Scribe says:

    I’ve been an ardent Twitter follower of yours; now, I find myself a devoted reader of your poignant and painfully eloquent blog. Thars beauty in dem words.

  6. @princess_scribe and @SKEpperson Thank you so much for your unbelievably kind words. They have given me so much strength.

    I think yesterday was a bit of a turning point. I gave a lot of things up to the universe, and oddly, it was a release to let go in front of my mum. I needed to show her my vulnerability, instead of pretending it was all ok.

    Also, I now smell really good.

  7. Arianna says:

    beautiful post. Sigh. I really should be bringing you in on the project I’ve been developing for my friend Nicole for almost two years. Any desire to write and produce for a web series?


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