Compartments

Ancient History

Pink

“Mom, can you smell this?”

Aidan offered her wrist, not knowing I could smell this before she entered the room. Her milkwhite broomstick of a wrist dripped American Girl perfume, sugary and light. The petal pink star-shaped bottle of perfume had been a Christmas present from me, bought in a fit of nostalgia. Our girls-only trip to Chicago’s American Girl Place was a year ago. Aidan loves anything remotely attached to American Girl. Too bad they don’t make American Girl toilet brushes. She and Samantha, her doll, would volunteer to head up a toilet cleaning drive to aid orphaned ponies.

I told her the perfume smelled lovely, but slightly strong. In the future, she might want to spray a cloud in the air and run her wrists through the mist. She understood and wiped the excess perfume away.

As I climbed the stairs to her bedroom, my nose was paddled by the airborne perfume particles. It vaguely reminded me of my own girlhood perfume of choice: Love’s Baby Soft.

It came in a cylindrical-shaped glass bottle with a white cap. It was pink, of course, and smelled like baby powder/strawberries/roses/unicorn breath. My bottle of Love’s was a Christmas present. When I wore it I felt it launched me from ordinary to ordinary with a glossy pink sheen—a little better, a little older, a little less ackward. Smooth, like the girls who were good at rollerskating. They could glide backward effortlessly, their wheels making a soft clickclick on wood floors. Boys bought nachos for them at the roller rink snack bar. They kept Goody combs in the back pockets of their jeans and tube of Bonne Bell lipgloss in the front pockets.

Esteem encased, my bottle of Love’s went with me everywhere until it was stolen. I was in eighth grade, visiting a rival junior high as a participant in our school district’s orchestra ensemble. All the girls were in the bathroom changing into dresses. I left my bag, with my Love’s inside, for just a moment. When I returned, my Love’s was gone. I looked all over, asked if anyone had seen it. Nobody had, of course. I knew it was gone. Some other girl had it tucked in her bag. She took it home with her, put it on her dresser or hid it under her bed so her mom wouldn’t ask where it came from.

I was Loveless. My mom declined to buy a replacement bottle for me. Instead, I borrowed her Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps, or her Youth Dew. Later, in high school, I wore Exclamation! perfume, Opium, Poison, CoCo—scents that promised danger and intrigue with every drop. I’d slink around my bedroom like a 1920’s vamp and dream of having jetblack straight bobbed hair and Cleopatra eyes, behind which a brain like Dorothy Parker’s flashed a few slick lines to drop at perfect moments. Light bouncing off my braces in the mirror or my mom’s call to dinner would snap me back into reality.

As a freshman at CU, I found a way to battle homesickness. I bought a bottle of L’Air du Temps. Every time I used it I thought about my mom and it comforted me. It’s ironic how I went from wanting to smell like silent-screen goddess Louise Brooks to my mom in a few short years.

I am currently reading A Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman. She quotes Kipling:

Smells are surer than sights and sounds to make your heart-strings crack.

If I were to come across a bottle of Love’s Baby Soft again, I know I’d have to pop off the cap and spray my wrists. I’d drench them until they were pink.

26 comments to Pink

  • I forgot about Exclamation!

    Sweet memeories Mopsy.

  • Great post! I too am a former Love’s Baby Soft user, and just the smell of it whisks me back to jr. high!

    You are a wonderful writer, Mopsy!

  • Such sweet memories! I remember being jealous that my parents got my cousin a bottle of Love’s perfume, but not for me (I was, I suppose, too young).

    I wonder if they make it anymore…

  • Rach
    Twitter:

    Oh Gretchen, thanks for the smiles.

    You have such a writing talent.

  • Oh, how I remember the Love’s Baby Soft! That and Exclamation, of course. Whatever did happen to Debbie Gibson?

  • Am I dating myself? I remember the combs, the lip gloss AND the Loves’!
    What a trip down memory lane…:D

  • I had the Love’s Baby Soft, too! In fact, one year for Christmas or something, I received 5 or 6 of Love’s bottles in different pastel colors, each with a different scent. LOL

  • What a flawless talent for writing you have! Amazing! Smell is by far my favorite sense. I love this post. I’m going to have to read that book.

  • Other smells from childhood: Strawberry Shortcake dolls, real rubber baby bottles, scratch-n-sniff chocolate stickers, Sea Breeze . . . and do you remember squeaking jelly bracelets against your teeth? I’ve heard that book is excellent.

  • Jennifer

    I remember Love’s, Poison and Exclamation! My friends and I would go to the (nicer) department store at the mall and ask for a sample of Poison. Most of the time they’d give you one. We’d save it for special occasions and felt so cool!

  • OH! I forgot all about Love’s Baby Soft. Haven’t smelled it in years, but as I was reading, I swear I could smell it.

  • Shayne

    Are you spying on me? LOL. Yesterday a girlfriend sent me an email about all the nostalgia of being a little girl in the 1970s, and I wrote back to her that I lovingly remembered my bottle of Love’s Baby Soft (pink w/white cap) that made me feel so grown up when I wore it! I guess it was a universal thing for girls of our generation!

  • sister-of-mopsy

    HA!!!! “… orphaned ponies” too funny sis.

    a.

  • amy

    Don’t remember Love’s, but I do remember Exclamation. I remember paging through a magazine asking you if you liked the scent and you said “Like it. The first time I smelled it I drove to the mall and bought a bottle.” Everytime I see Exclamation I think of you. All perfumes give me headaches, which has always made me feel I’m missing out a little on womanhood — no pretty bottles on my dresser, no signature scent for me.

  • I could smell it too, as I read your post. I’d forgotten about it. By the time I was in high school, I’d move to Jovan Musk. Just for fun, I bought some of it last year and as you mentioned, everytime I pulled it out it took me back. Thanks for the memories.

  • Stacey

    Hey, I was one of those girls who could rollerskate backwards AND I had the Goody comb in my back pocket as well. No boys ever bought me any nachos though!
    Great memories!

  • stace

    “Light bouncing off my braces in the mirror”

    I can’t stop laughing!

    I was an Exclamation user too! And my mom had Poison, I got to use a bit every once in a while, it made me feel like a grown up.

  • I was a loves baby soft fan until I hit about 14…then it had to be Estee Lauder “Beautiful” I wore it for years and had totally forgotten about it until last Christmas when my mom bought some for me..it brought back so many memories. Now I wear it almost every day. When my little girl (3) is a bit older I will buy her some Loves Baby Soft! They do still make it! Great Blog!

  • Ahhh… Love’s Baby Soft, I forgot about that one… I used to love it too!

  • Love’s Baby Soft! Oh the memories. It is still available online – I googled it and found several sources. Maybe I’ll drop some hints for Valetine’s Day!

    ~TaunaLen

  • I used to love, Love’s Baby Soft!!!
    After that is was Jovan Musk. Then I found… oh, I lost the name.. getting older is not so much fun when I can’t remember my words anymore. Oh, well, thanks for a trip down memory lane.

  • Oh my,yessss! LBS was one of the first things that made me feel “grown up girl pretty”. I can smell it just reading your post! What memories. Does anybody remember the Coty Sweet Earth fragrances? Yum-mo!

  • oops, I messed up on my link. Corrected!

  • GAH! Can you tell I’m new at this? LOL. I apologize! Now it’s right.

  • Oh, I can remember my bottle, too! This is a lovely post – brought back lots of memories.

  • Ramona

    They sell Love’s Baby Soft at Target. I buy it regularly and use it all the time…so clean and fresh and holds great memories!

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