Monday, December 14, 2009

Samples: The Addiction

The Sample Box

"You are an obsession. I cannot sleep.
I am your possession, unopened at your feet.
There's no balance; no equality.
Be still I will not accept defeat."

- "Obsession," Animotion

There are stages to perfumista development. I have been trapped in Stage 4, also known as "Full Blown Perfume Mania" for well over a year. I'm not honestly sure I'm ever getting out since the idea of "paring down" my collection seems just totally antithetical to collecting perfume. I mean, I have a bottle of one perfume that I bought unsniffed, sprayed ONE TIME, and summarily hated, and I still can't bring myself to give it away. Nope. Still sitting there in the back of my perfume cubby, because "WHAT IF I CHANGE MY MIND LATER!?!?!" My nose is so new that some things I didn't like when I first started but that everyone loves I'm still waiting to find affection for, though at this point even I will admit that there are things I wait 6 months on, try a second time, and no, still do not enjoy them and probably never will.

My samples collection is suffering because of this. I just hang on to everything, even the stuff I actually put in a baggie labeled "NO! -- give these away" in part because I'd hate to give anyone scents I can't wholeheartedly endorse. (Though I realize that (a) this means I'm sitting on someone's favorite when they could be enjoying it, and (b) this is the number one way to heartbreak for a true perfume lover because someone out there is going to reject one of your favorites pretty forcefully eventually, and that will just kill you.)

The First One's Free: Sample Shopping

Untrue, unfaithful, that was you.
Every other day there was someone new.
Untrue, unfaithful, that was you.
Why was I a fool to fall in love with you?

"Untrue Unfaithful (That Was You)," Nita Rossi

I started out with sample jars, then moved onto the box pictured above. I've now outgrown it, and I'm desperately trying to figure out what storage system to move to next. The straw that broke the already full sample box's back was my discovery of the super cheap samples over at Rei Rien, which conveniently also provides samples of more mainstream department store scents that, quite frankly, I have a tendency to overlook. This baggie full, plus a couple more, cost me a measly $22, but was WAY MORE than would fit into that box. Plus, every time I order from Beautyhabit they send me a generous helping of samples (which is aided by the fact that I am always moved from "contemplating a purchase" or "Where is my credit card!?!" by one of their frequent "get a bazillion samples with purchase" offers), which has helped fill the box. Though, okay, yes, I admit that EVERY FREAKING MONTH that email from Luckyscent featuring 6-9 new samples in a "pack" usually gets me excited to order, and then there's that scent I've really wanted to try that everyone else is already reviewing and Oh look! they have it over at The Perfumed Court now....

And then there are the packs from independent perfumers. I just see it as doing my part to help America in this time of economic crisis by buying sample packs direct from independent perfumers. You know, supporting small businesses, stimulating the economy, etc. You get the picture.

Okay, who am I kidding? I love sample shopping. I never have a lot of money, but I can somehow always justify spending a few bucks on samples. It's the perfect set up. All of the beauty. None of the commitment.

I'm a perfume trollop. Untrue, unfaithful. No signature scent for me -- no way. I can't commitment to one scent for an entire day anymore. I accept it. Moving on...

Admitting You've Got a Problem Is the First Step

"They'll name a city after us,
and later say it's all our fault.
Then they'll give us a talking to
because they've got years of experience.
And it's contagious!
And it's contagious!

- "Us," Regina Spektor

After I got in deep (good bye tiny sample jars, hello giant box) I struggled to figure out what to do with my samples that I wanted to carry with me during the day. Then David found this Disney tin abandoned during closing two springs ago and brought it home for me. At the time I was carrying samples around in little velvet baggies in my purse, but got nervous about them getting beat up or lost. The little tin seemed perfect. It was the right size for 2-3 baggies worth and let me decide on the fly what to wear or sample. I even put some folded up 3x5 note cards in it so I could take notes wherever I was if I needed to, as well as a couple of empty 1ml vials in case I was in a store and could convince an employee to allow me to take a sample of something I found. This seemed like a great idea to me. This plus a few small sprayers of things I loved already stashed in my car and my desk at work in case I managed to forget to spritz up before I left the house and I thought I had a pretty good system set up.

I knew that my perfume love was starting to get weird when several of my California coworkers commented that needing to carry samples around in a little tin looked like I was carrying crack vials. When I jokingly said that perfume was kind of my drug and I had a little bit of an addiction, they would carefully eye the little pile of samples scattered across my desk and say, "Ummmm. Oooookay."

No joke.

This is how you know your hobby has crossed the line from "cute" or "interesting" into "weird." I don't have one sample of a vanilla scent with me; I have five. I need to be able to compare them! On the fly! Wherever the mood strikes me! People tell me I smell great, and I'm now at the stage where I have to say things like, "Oh! This is a limited edition, you can't buy it anymore," or "Oh, this is great isn't it? But it's kind of pricey... How pricey? Umm...$300 a bottle?" or, and this is the worst yet, "Yeah, I love it, too, but they only sell it in Tokyo." (Yeah, thanks for that, Le Labo. That won't get you a crazy look *at all*.)

Yes. Mania, you hath possessed me. I love you. Never let me go. (Especially because at this point, you're starting to scare away other potential occupiers of my time, like new friends. If you left me, I might find myself very lonely.)

Let the Enabling Commence!

Today I received my first enabling gift since Angela got me hooked two years ago. No matter how many times I tell my friends I really want perfume for my graduation/birthday/holiday gifts, they are all too scared to try to buy me any now, even when I provide a list of pre-approved purchases. They're afraid they'll buy something I already have or, worse, something I won't like. They don't seem to understand that the unloved eventually becomes the swappable or that I am crazy enough to do things like buy myself that second bottle of Annick Goutal Songes (as though anyone ever needed more than one bottle of Songes) because it was just so cheap and what if my first one broke/was confiscated by security/got stolen/ was attacked by a pack of wild, perfume-hating dogs!?!

So THANK YOU STAR for bravely going where other gift-giving friends fear to tread and for enabling my insanity. Today in the mail I received a package containing the "Sephora favorites" sampler that comes not only with samples, but a coupon I can trade in for a full bottle of my favorite of the group. Bliss! Exhilaration! A package that soothes the savage obsessive collector type within me, satiating my need to find a way to acquire more samples for at least another month.

And the best part? It came with a cute little clutch, that was filled with -- yes you guessed it, more samples! Face wash samples, eye shadow samples, and EVEN MORE PERFUME SAMPLES! Because what do you give to an addict? More enabling addictive materials! Because that's what a junkie can never get enough of! Another fix!

Yes, my friends, this is a great holiday gift day here in the household. David doesn't have to sweat when my will breaks and I order another round of samples -- they're already here.

"I will have you; yes, I will have you.
I will find a way and I will have you.
Like a butterfly, a wild butterfly,
I will collect you and capture you."

- "Obsession," Animotion


star said...

Yay! That was completely worth it!

It did seem like the perfect thing...

Diana said...

Thank you so much Star. It was a great gift. A Perfect gift, in fact!

daniel said...
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daniel said...
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Ines said...

:) I can totally understand. And I no longer admit to buying perfume to anyone, my bottle stash has gotten quite big and I don't want to get rid of my samples - what if I'll need them later for comparison?! :)
Btw, I'm still working on an efficient way of storing them.

Diana said...

Ines, tonight at dinner someone put a candy cane in her coffee, then started passing it around because it "smelled like celery." Which it did. But for some reason I took this as an invitation to launch into a lengthy description of this being how perfumes that sound good on paper frequently fails in execution, which then lead me to discussing, at length, the various coffee/chocolate/mint/citrus scents and their varying degrees of goodness...

The girl with the celery coffee just stared at me.

It was....very awkward.