My parents’ bedroom is always full of treasure. I discovered father’s porn when I was in primary school. I went to afternoon classes then, and both of my parents had to work. Nobody would notice when I sneaked up to my parents’ bedroom during lunchtime: my nanna would be downstairs in the kitchen, preparing lunch. I’d lock the door, silence the TV, and enjoy about fifteen minutes of raw human pleasure.

The porn back then was different to what the internet offers now. It wasn’t entirely based on the male vision.  The woman wore beautiful clothing. A be-bowed silk blouse and a camel a-line skirt. Hair glued sleekly to her skull. Red lips. Demure white heels. She would throw her head back, and looked thoroughly unaware of being filmed. It was sensual, real, and if the film was a perfume, it would have smelt of sex and passion. The porn nowadays would just smell of plastic. Cheap, mass produced plastic. Father’s porn was the sexual education I never received. I’m glad it was good education.

Next door to father’s VCRs were mother’s perfume collection. I toyed with the perfume more openly. Almost a hundred viles, bottles and tubes were housed in a delicate plastic drawer inside the cupboard.

Mother forbade me from spraying the perfume. So I always headed to the cupboard, picked out the bottle which stood out most prominently and quickly uncapped it and spritzed.

It was a tall one. It looked like a pillar in Roman architecture. It was gold capped with amber liquid inside. I loved the tangy smell. It was a deep, deep orange. It smelt as if somebody’s just eaten an orange inside the interiors of a vintage Rolls Royce. I remember I felt incredibly sophisticated.

With Pierre Aulas encouraging me to buy that “bottle” I have been thinking about for weeks now. (“You smell it once, put it away and literally don’t go back and smell it until at least a month later. If you’re still thinking about that, go back and try it again. If it evokes the same emotion as it did a month ago, go for it.”) I ran out the door to buy a Mitsouko parfum today. I showed it to my mother.

Mother brought out a box (she stowed away the entire perfume collection a while ago, I have no idea why), and there it was, the Caleche. Almost twenty years on, I finally know that the tangy perfume I’ve been secretly spraying myself with, is the legendary Hermes Caleche.

I immediately sprayed some of the amber elixir on my wrist. I lament that the top note has evaporated and I can no longer smell that familiar orangy scent. Nevertheless, it feels good to be reunited with something I’ve missed for so long. Caleche still makes me feel sophisticated. Aulas is right.


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