Monday, March 23, 2009

Smells Like Teen Designer Label Perfume

Being the father of girls presents challenges, being the divorced father of girls makes those challenges a bit more concentrated. One mistake and I have to wait until the next Wednesday or alternate Friday to try to make amends, that whole thing of kids going to bed in a sulk with a parent only to wake up having forgotten everything is something that doesn't happen in my life.

And it has meant that I've learned to understand my daughters better since the divorce, which is good. We've built ourselves a kind of mini world in which everything happens more intensely when we're together, then slower when we're apart, though things carry on in all our individual lives and I try to be a part of their day to day lives as much as possible.

That most vital of issues remains a tough one; present buying, specifically me buying presents for them. They're at the age when money or iTunes cards are always welcome, but I like to give proper gifts, something that is a hard thing to so with any level of success.

I'm banned, categorically just not allowed, to buy clothes for them. This upsets me on one hand, I mean I'm a cool Dad after all, just not cool enough to pick out clothes for them. However, picking an item of clothing in terms of style is something I feel I could achieve, but getting the right size might be disastrous, so avoidance could be wise. To be fair my choices haven't actually succeeded even in the style stakes, though I think they should have.

Avoidance means that I'm deprived of a huge potential area for present buying and what Dad doesn't like to buy presents for his kids?

Last week, in Singapore, I wanted to buy a couple of presents to bring back for the girls, I was stuck and didn't fancy the thought of browsing around a mall or two waiting for the right thing to jump out in front of me. I was with C and the one time we went to a mall the only thing that jumped out was an electronic drumkit. I played it, impressed the people in the shop and pissed off C, but that's another post for another time.

Vut to doo?

Books are always a possibility, they both read voraciously, but knowing what they're currently into and what they've got is dodgy. Music creates the same issue.

Then, bang, like that inflated bag the chap in the email is about to explode behind the back of the bomb disposal expert, it hit me. It was an idea, not that ideas go bang, and it was one that could have been brilliant and could have been crap. I know how J Edgar Hoover must have felt when he invented the vacuum cleaner, that hit or miss thing.

No, it wasn't vacuum cleaners, even though K had given me a mini one for my birthday, it was perfume, well the idea of giving some, not the concept of the stuff.

Hmmm....I thought to myself. They're at that age when all things designer are looked at with great favour, they're also looking after their appearances and image matters. A couple of trendy perfumes could be good, obviously not the same thing to each of them, I learned that lesson many years ago.

There I was, at Changi airport after being accosted by one of those duty free perfume girls. She was a slim girl but somehow she still managed to make me feel surrounded. Women's perfume shops are second only to ladies' lingerie departments for men, we need to make a quick choice and get out. The perfume girl would stand on my left and her over the top smell would be on my right.

There were trendy bottles and sampler things everywhere and there were female customers who knew exactly what they wanted. I didn't. Nor did I know what I wanted. I tried to explain to the woman, we'll call her Eau, exactly what was needed.

"I've got two daughters, 12 and 14, and I want a trendy something for each of them, I don't know what though."

To you and I that seems like a perfectly sensible proposition, to Eau it wasn't. At one point I even suspected that she doesn't read my blog. She gave me that look, that Sri Lankan mother look. Then she waved a nonchalant arm around to indicate that there was a whole shop to choose from, as if I didn't know that already.

I asked her what she might recommend, she answered by asking me what they liked.

By Jesu, I thought to myself. If I knew what they liked I wouldn't be talking to you now, I'd have bought my things and would be sitting in the Krissflyer lounge place and stuffing my face with rice based Singaporean food, very probably with pineapple on it. I didn't say that to her though, I just meekly uttered a no.

I spotted some Diesel and remembered that it might be suitable for K. It's got that rugged, not too girly thing going on and I felt that it would suit her personality. Sorry, I've just realised I sound a bit like a perfume ad there. Who writes them? If it's you then please get in touch, I want to ask you a hundred questions about how you think of all that stuff.

The packaging and look of the Diesel made it a must buy for K proposition. The glass bottle that looked like something the heroine in an Indiana Jones film would use and the pouch around it were just K's type of thing. Eau offerred me a sample whiff on one of those sample whiff pieces of paper they carry around. It smelled okay, but it mattered not really. I said yes and that meant that Eau would now follow me around the shop whilst carrying the box. Here in England a yes would have meant, if I was really lucky, that Eau would have put it in a basket for me, after I'd found myself one.

Choosing the right, rather something I thought would be right, item for A was going to be a harder task. She's one of those fussy and never satisfied types, particularly when it comes to clothes and all things that have anything to do with appearance. I strolled around the perfume emporium and Eau followed me, like a bad smell only she smelled nice, in that smells of every perfume under the sun way.

I looked at everything, these days you can't tell the difference between men's and women's perfume without looking at the advertising to see which sex features in it. Those days when the bottle would look like a part of a car engine for men's perfume and a cat or a kitchen appliance for women's are sadly no longer, probably down to Germaine Greer.

The Dolce and Gabbana section caught my eye and something deep in my memory banks stirred, it was a memory, always handy. Specifically it was a memory of A being delighted with her new Dolce and Gabbana glasses. Eau noticed me paying attention to the area and jumped in with another attempt at a sample smell. It was good that she'd noticed my interest but frankly poor that she hadn't learned by now that the smell didn't matter to me.

In sterotypical man shopping manner I looked at the bottle and weighed up the factors in less time than it takes for a Hollywood celebrity to adopt an African orphan. I queued and paid with and was out of the shop on my way, the only interruption occurring when Eau stupidly asked me if I wanted anything for myself.

I got on the plane, did all that long distance flying business that you've read about already, then landed.

The following night I picked up the girls, I felt wary and apprehensive. The perfume might be anything as a present choice from total genius to total Mervyn Silva, I knew not where things might land, though had a feeling that the reaction from both daughters would be the same.

Guess what?

I'm a total genius, with tendencies towards smugness.

Oh yes, they love their little bottles. Everywhere we go I'm now accompanied by a slightly overpowering mix of Diesel and D + G. It's okay though, I've gone up about four rungs on the cool Dad ladder.

Happy Monday all.


shehal said...

i didn't know you had kids. do they read your blog?

have you tried buying them jewelry? - custom made ones?

do they like shoes? may be you can take them shoe shopping?

Anonymous said...

haha way to go RD! shame on Eau for not reading your blog though! ;)

Jerry said...


I too got stuck buying perfume recently. You're right. smell doesn't matter.

ViceUnVersa said...

Good morning RD. Good to have you back. Much needed smiles on a gloomy morning in the stix. So thanks.
Much smiles about the drums, what is it about females in one's life who hate it when we display our talents in drum and bass in public? Actually any talent. I fight for you with the coolest dad status. i.e. Playing the drum kit at the Gap store in Oxford street, playing African drums in a DC mall and among many other, doing ballet steps outside Selfridges. The spouse and kid disappear in seconds during these moments.
You have a fantastic week too. :)

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Shehal - Yes I do, and no. I take it you're relatively new around here?

Jerry - Exactly, just packaging and image!

DD - GM2U - A drum kit at Gap in Oxford St? Why didn't I know about this?

Sweet Idiot said...

buy them shoes! they'll love it! :)

ViceUnVersa said...

it was some kind of promo during a weekend. they had four kits! i think you could win one. i just had a go!

Jane Doe said...

It's funny reading this because I feel like you just gave me a peek into my dad's head.

And sorry to burst your bubble RD but smell does matter (at least it will when they get older). But perfume is ALWAYS a good choice!