Uncommon Scents

As a rule I never buy perfume for anyone because like the millions of people who pay to hear a Celine Dion download or see her in concert- music like fragrances are very personal choices.


About twenty-five years ago I had a nose-job. I was self conscious about the length and how it slightly hooked to the left. 

As a kid and as an adult I was and still am still very accident prone. I fell on my face multiple times: off of trees, off swings, on rocks, on streets, driveways, sidewalks and a few basketball courts. I even managed to break supposedly difficult to break glass with my face when I walked into a fire extinguisher case in the hallway after basketball practice in high school.  Skills! I have got skills!

After many bumps, bruises and breaks my mother recommended, and I agreed to have my nose “fixed”. 

The doctor warned me after the surgery it would not be completely straight and I could lose my sense of smell- which I did for a couple of years.

When I did regain my sense of smell, I didn’t know I would become hyper-aware of the smells I love and the smells that I loathe.

One of the worst things about my job isn’t my work, or my coworkers or managers but that my unit sits ten feet from the microwaves in the kitchen area. Great for free leftover cookies- but there is a wretched downside.

Periodically during the day the overlapping smells of other people’s food cooking in the microwaves, makes me sick from migraines to nausea.

I dreaded three things about the long flight coming to Lebanon- my neck and back issues sitting in a plane and airports for about 24 hours, the smells of other travellers, and the stinky smell of me to other travellers and to my hostess.

My chiropractor recommended I buy a travel pillow for the long flight for the neck and back pain. I found one online. I was excited to receive it two days before my trip. 

Unfortunately when I used the pillow on the flight, it had a mineral chemical smell that made me ill, so I left the pillow on the plane.

About ten days later, my hostess took me and a couple of her grandkids to a well ventilated soap shop, where I did some souvenir shopping. 

Rosemary, cedar and milkshake scented soaps

Memo to friends and family in California: if I give you soap, it doesn’t mean I think you stink.

There were scents like lavender and cedar I loved.  There was a rosemary scent that made me crave a pizza. 

Then there was one scent that made me scrunch my nose like a four year old being forced to eat their vegetables: 

Milkshake soap. Dude really?

It smelled like a strawberry milkshake. Don’t get me wrong, I love drinking the occasional strawberry milkshake. Based on my weight I probably have had too many chocolate milkshakes.  

But the thought of bathing with a strawberry milkshake smelling soap is about as appealing as listening to the Celine Dion Titanic song on a never ending loop. I believe the song has been declared as a form of torture. Mother of God- make that earbug STOP!

As a rule I never buy perfume for anyone because like the millions of people who pay to hear a Celine Dion download or see her in concert- music like fragrances are very personal choices.

Imagine my surprise and near panic for my 42nd birthday, when my hostess Sadika and her daughter Rana gave me perfume.

My new favorite smell of the Middle East

Why was I stressing?

What if it smelled like a fragrance they love but I despised? What if it is a perfume that smells great on them but not on me? What if if it smells  like the Debbie Gibson inspired overly sweet Electric Youth that I loved when I was twelve but when I smell it thirty years later Light Rail- or in an elevator it triggers a migraine.

“We bought it for you because it is Lebanese,” Rana says.

Will this be a smell I will associate with all that is fabulous about Lebanon: Their incredible hospitality, ancient ruins like Byblos, the Phonecian Wall, Baalbek, the smell of nargileh, or the cute older brother of Sadika’s daughter-in law.

Or will it be a smell that I associate with the negative things about Lebanon: crazy arse driving, the cigarette smells, the construction noise, the summer humidity that makes me sweat horrendously in the least sexiest way possible.

I tried it and it smells- nice. Raghba is made in the United Arab Emirates it has a woodsy, vanilla vibe with a twinge of incense.  It isn’t too strong, but it is unique. Subtlety has never been a strength of mine, but I do admire the unique.

For two new friends who barely know me Sadika and Rana picked a scent that I love.

Cheers to good friends, good memories and great smells.

Author: Kristi Beres

Wanderer, observer, prone to occasional bouts of snark and sarcasm.

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