Perfume is a disguise. Since the middle ages, we have worn masks of fruit and flowers in order to conceal from ourselves the meaty essence of our humanity. We appreciate the sexual attractant of the rose, the ripeness of the orange, more than we honor our own ripe carnality.
Now today we want to perfume our cities, as well; to replace their stinging fumes of disturbed fossils’ sleep with the scent of gardens and orchards. Yet, humans are not bees any more than they are blossoms. If we must pull an olfactory hood over our urban environment, let it be of a different nature.
I want to travel on a train that smells like snowflakes.
I want to sip in cafes that smell like comets.
Under the pressure of my step, I want the streets to emit the precise odor of a diamond necklace.
I want the newspapers I read to smell like the violins left in pawnshops by weeping hobos on Christmas Eve.
I want to carry luggage that reeks of the neurons in Einstein’s brain.
I want a city’s gases to smell like the golden belly hairs of the gods.
And when I gaze at a televised picture of the moon, I want to detect, from a distance of 239,000 miles, the aroma of fresh mozzarella.
― Tom Robbins