Irreverent memories: from Musgo Real to Paco Rabanne

It might be odd to suddenly think of your uncle in the shower but, then again, maybe it isn’t. I stopped, smelled the soap, and laughed. Laughed because the new Musgo Real soap I recently bought reminded me of his signature perfume Paco Rabanne Pour Homme.

In the 1980s when he visited my mother from one of his work trips he would give me a hug, and on his brown neck and inside his black leather jacket I could smell Paco. My uncle tells stories with a smile, and laughs at his jokes. He is a veritable dad-joke teller. He makes you smile.

It’s not the first time I’ve laughed at irreverent memories. For a friend’s birthday – the friend who gave me a bottle of Santal Massoïa – we ordered a chocolat fondant each for dessert. The moment that copper-rich manna reached my little foliates glee hit my ribs like a tickle. All I could think of was the spoonfuls of condensed milk I’d had as a child. She wondered why it had made me laugh so much. In a Melbourne café another friend and I ate ricotta hotcakes over breakfast. This time I was struck with both laughter and tears.

If I remember correctly I read in Rachel Herz’s ‘The Scent of Desire: Discovering Our Enigmatic Sense of Smell’ (2007) that breast milk and baby formula are sweetened by vanilla which comforts and nourishes a child. Most adults are sure to be drawn to sweet food and perfumes. Perhaps, the joy I felt in these moments were the memory of sweetness that touched my life as a child. I, personally, prefer a touch of sweetness in perfume rather than lashings of it. In food I find wonderment in dishes, like perfume, created from a list of ingredients that can remind us of something: a most pleasurable thing as condensed milk.

The triggers of these emotional responses often come in the simplest acts, in the moments that brush along in the breeze, in the rush of lunch break, and if it were pleasing memories, such as these mentioned, I would say it is akin to a happiness that belongs to no time.

The Musgo Real Glycerine Classic Oil Soap is meant for the face as a pre-shave beard softener and cleanser but I prefer it as a gentle body soap. Producer of Musgo Real Claus Porto notes that this woody soap contains vetiver, eucalyptus and patchouli. Paco Rabanne Pour Homme’s aromatic fougére consists of, according to Fragrantica, rosemary, clary sage, rosewood, lavender, geranium, coumarin, honey, amber, musk and oakmoss.