Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Jitterbug Perfume Shame

Today, I attend a conference and end up sitting by a colleague who worked with me when my role was different in the hospital.  We lost touch, but have no trouble picking up right where we left off.

At one point in the conversation, my friend says, 'what are you doing outside of work these days?'

I talk about family, recent travel, and then reveal my perfume hobbit (hobby + habit = hobbit).

Pausing for a brief fantasy about perfumed Hobbits...

'Wow, that's so cool,' she says, and begins asking me all sorts of questions about perfume.  

Because of Inner Critic - killjoy that he is - I'm always surprised when non-perfume people want to engage in conversation about this obsession.  As of today, I will expect a positive response and be surprised when that doesn't happen.

'Have you read Jitterbug Perfume?' she asks.  

What the hell?

Jitterbug Perfume, by Tom Robbins, is a perfumista cult classic.  How is it that she has read this and I haven't?

Responses to her question race through my mind:

'Yes, of course.'

'As soon as I finish The Emperor of  Scent.'

'I just started it last night.'

'What perfumista hasn't read Jitterbug Perfume?'

All lies, of course.

What I say, instead, is the shameful truth.  'I tried to read it awhile ago, but the print was so small that I got annoyed and quit.'


Then finally, she says, 'What about a book on tape?'

Well, maybe, but that would require paying attention and silencing the chaos in my head.  I can imagine listening for 30 minutes only to realize that...what was I saying about Hobbits?

Reading actually suits me best and Jitterbug Perfume is the next book on my list.

Just as soon as I find it in large print.

Picture from


  1. My secret shame? I am a perfume aficionado who has tried to read "Jitterbug Perfume" half a dozen times over the years (both pre- and post- the dawning of my obsession with scent) without success ... because I hated it! I find Tom Robbins' writing style too precious and forced and "clever" by half, and it annoys me to the point where I have to stop reading a third or even half the way through. I realize this amounts to a certain kind of sacrilige among my fellow perfumisti, but so be it.

    So don't feel too bad! I think Suskind's "Perfume" is more of a must-read anyway. (You *have* read that, haven't you?)

  2. I have not read Jitterbug Perfume. There was a time in the early 90's when many of my friends were reading Tom Robbins books, and listening to Pearl Jam and watching Oliver Stone movies. I didn't like Pearl Jam or Oliver Stone, so I figured that Tom Robbins wouldn't be my thing either.

    That was a long time ago, so I think I shall give Mr. Robbins a chance, especially knowing now that the plot actually involves perfume. I thought it was just a quirky title, like "Half-asleep in Frog Pyjamas". Don't tell me that book is about frog pyjamas that someone is wearing while half-asleep!

  3. Hello J.D.

    Thanks for your comment! I quite liked Tom Robbins' style, precious though it may be. Truly, the print was simply too small not to piss me off and color the experience.

    Love 'perfumisti,' by the way.

  4. Hi, JoanElaine - I'm not sure I'll love JT either, but now I must read it. I like what I've seen so far.

    If you get to it first, please let me know what you think!

  5. Hmm. I have been considering the drastic step of reading a book that is not a murder mystery. Maybe this one?

  6. Fair enough if you're a fan of Robbins' style! 'Twould be a dull world indeed if we all had the same tastes.

    However, you still didn't answer my question: you *have* read Suskind's "Perfume", yes? :)

  7. Hi ChickenFreak - maybe this book would be the one. Let me know if you attempt reading it.

  8. Hi J.D. - No, I haven't read "Perfume." Perhaps you could answer the 'so what' question by telling me a bit about it. I'm always open to a good book tease.

  9. Jitterbug the book is on my radar, but I haven't ever got round to looking it up on Amazon and clicking on the cart button. As my already poor short sight is continuing its decline at an alarming rate, small print would be a non-starter for me too!

    I have read "Perfume", as it happens, and would also commend it too you, ditto the film. Strange as it may sound, the film manages to convey the lusciousness of smell in visual terms. It is a remarkable feat. And it stars Alan Rickman, who is the heart throb of many of my peers, though I am more of an Andy Garcia girl myself (or aspire to be!).

    I would also recommend Jitterbug the perfume from DSH, if you don't happen to know it. It is quite retro and dark - animalic too - and I think it might be up your treet.

  10. Hi Flitter - thanks for your comment! Your recommendation of "Perfume" is interesting and I will definitely check it out.

    I am aware of DSH Jitterbug perfume but didn't get to it when I was in Colorado. Bring on the dark and retro - definitely a contender.



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