Sunday, November 17, 2013


I'd say that it's been a busy week, but given that this is the umpteenth time I've disappeared from my blog for a week over the past several months, you already know that.

But it was a good week.  Lots of meetings to go to, which are never my favorite thing, but I also gave a little lecture on Truman Capote's In Cold Blood and a colleague gave me some suggested reading: Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Chronicle of a Death Foretold.

I'm always happy when people give me more reading to do.  At this moment, however, my fear is that I'm going to commit myself to giving another conference presentation and that I'll foolishly choose to talk about Gabriel Garcia Marquez, about whom I know next to nothing, except that I really, really did not like Love in the Time of Cholera, and that, at the time when it was popular, I seemed to be the only one who felt that way.

Speaking of being the only one who feels a certain way about certain things, I've recently begun to notice the absurdity of... perfume.  

Don't get me wrong, I like nice smells and I like to smell nice (although I haven't actually worn perfume in quite a few years at this point).

But what has recently struck me is how perfume is no longer really about smell, actually.  Case in point: I was walking to Target this morning and had to pass a Bath and Body Shop.  I haven't been in a Bath and Body Shop in about a decade, and I must say, it's unlikely I'll enter one again anytime soon.

There was a huge ad for "Forever Midnight."  I guess it's some body fragrance based on the Twilight series--it had a picture of Bella in her wedding dress and that good-looking young man whose name I can never remember--not the werewolf-guy, the vampire-guy that she went to high school with...  wait, EDWARD!  That's it.  I remember now.  Edward.  Him.

Anyway, I looked at this poster for a long minute and began to chuckle.  Because all I could think was, "What do vampires in heat smell like?  Do I want to smell like that?"

I quickly reprimanded myself for being disrespectful to the great love of Bella and Edward: they're vampires in LOVE, of course.  Because Bella and Edward waited until they were married before they had sex and she became a vampire (which is really not at all typical for vampires, actually).

In retrospect, it's a wonder I survived the whole Twilight phenomenon.  I truly thought they were joking sometimes, and I kept waiting for it to be revealed that yes, in fact, it was all a satire of something.  (I was never sure what it could be satirizing, but I was willing to learn.)  

I saw the first film in the series and then I also saw the second one, but I dozed a bit during the second one (I saw both on DVD).  The person I saw them with fell totally asleep during the second one and then asked me what it was about, so I summarized:

"That girl, Bella, started hanging out with that guy--the one who doesn't ever wear a shirt--and they were, like, fixing dirt-bikes together because the other guy, whatshisname, Edward, kind of disappeared, and then they got the dirt-bikes fixed so they rode them a lot, and there was all kinds of sexual tension because that guy really doesn't wear a shirt EVER, if he can help it, and he's got a nice chest, and Bella couldn't help but notice that--and he likes her too, of course.  So anyway, that happened or was "in the air" between them, but then they didn't really do anything, because she loves Edward, and then things happened and there were a lot of people literally flying through the air in a field--I think during a vampire baseball-game, actually--and then there were a lot of people wearing red (this was the point at which I intermittently dozed off).  Anyway, some of the people in red seemed really angry about something that I wasn't quite clear about, but apparently it had been "going on for centuries" and Edward was not comfortable with it, but he acknowledged that it was a tradition and all, and then there was some kind of ritual or something and then it was over and Bella and Edward were together again, but they agreed that they'd hold off on having sex and transforming her into a vampire until after she finished high school because otherwise her mom and dad would get upset.  So they aren't going to have sex for at least another year or so, because she's a junior, I think."

He laughed and told me how "clever and funny" I was.  I told him, "No, you don't understand.  THAT WAS ACTUALLY THE MOVIE."

So I thought about that on my walk, and it was all kind of bittersweet, because I saw both of those movies with a guy I briefly dated that I'm not even friends with anymore, and that's always kind of a downer, when you see something that reminds you of someone you once liked who wasn't very nice to you in the end.

You wonder how you're even supposed to feel about the memory now, and you're a little bit pissed off that 1) you remember it and it was funny, and 2) the person ruined it all for you, lock, stock, and barrel, by being a jerk.  It seems like you aren't even supposed to remember it anymore, much less chuckle about it, but you do, and then you feel conflicted, like you're betraying yourself and in the end, you're just kind of annoyed that they made a Twilight perfume when all of that crap was over with years ago.

Anyway, reeling from this perfume ad and all it wrought in my life, I nevertheless actually made it into Target and shifted gears, mentally, or so I thought, until I walked past another perfume ad.

This one was for "Justin Bieber's Girlfriend."

I confess, I once again chuckled.  Because I really don't know what Justin Bieber's girlfriend smells like, and I couldn't quite imagine ever wanting to describe myself as smelling like "Justin Bieber's Girlfriend."  (I guess it would be worse if I smelled like his mom?)  

Anyway, the point I reached in all of my musings about this is that it is truly absurd.  We're being sold things that make NO sense and that we can't possibly need, and being forced to watch movies that aren't really that intelligent or good because no one will make anything worth watching anymore.  It's as simple as that.  We have perfumes based on bad-- but popular--movies and we have perfumes based on the hypothetical girlfriends of bad--but popular--teen-idols.  Because this is how we want to smell, apparently.

Why?  I don't know.  No walk will ever be long enough for me to figure that one out.

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Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "Life is short, but there is always time for courtesy."