I Smell. . . a Paradigm Shift

One of my old boyfriends was fond of latching onto certain phrases and finding ways to use them in all our conversations. It was really annoying. One of those phrases that he used a lot was "paradigm shift." I had never heard of paradigm shifts before I met him. (I didn't know how to count in binary on my fingers, either, before I met him.) He explained "paradigm shifts" as a kind of changing world view. One example of a paradigm shift is the shift from the belief that the world is flat to the belief that the world is round.

The interesting thing about paradigm shifts is that it's extremely personal. Not everyone believes that the world is round, even today. That paradigm shift just hasn't happened for them personally yet. For the majority of the world, yes. But for some, the world is flat, and it doesn't make any difference anyway, how they perceive the shape of the world, because they don't have anything important in their daily lives that changes because of it.

For me, it's intensely important that I believe that the world is round. Otherwise, in traveling from California to Texas, as I did this weekend, I would have had a real tough time understanding time zone changes.

Getting back to perfume, I hate to use the words "paradigm shift" but it really seems the best way to describe how my view on perfumes has changed.

I guess it all kind of started with purplebird's post on Quarry's thread: What have you learned/figured out lately?

Never say never. (I cannot wear...)
Never say always. (My favorite is...)
Learn to let go. (Reformulation. Discontinuation.)
Hoarding is a form of paranoia. (See previous.)
There will always be something else. (See two previous.)
Friends make everything better. (Basenotes. I am not alone in this.)
Natural extracts smell way different from synthetics. (Both are necessary.)

Back when I read that in May, I was only nodding my head because I was agreeing with the "Hoarding is a form of paranoia" and "There will always be something else."

I saw the "Never say never." And the "Never say always." And I agreed, but it wasn't until last month that I discovered how deep "Never say never" goes.

Patchouli. Bless you. I hate patchouli. It conjures years of living in a place that smelled of urine and stale people. Tons of patchouli, whether to block out the smell of marijuana, or what, I dunno. Then there's another kind of patchouli smell -- the smell of my paternal grandmother. Some people's grandparents smell like mothballs. Mine smelled of patchouli. And I loved my grandmother, but I hated that smell!

So, in my mind, patchouli was a big no no for me.

Last month, I ordered 9 samples from Neil Morris' website, and I have to admit, that I went over the scent descriptions and notes and as soon as one said "patchouli" it was off the list. "Why waste money on something I know I won't like?", I told myself.

When the samples arrived, there were 10 vials in that envelope. The last one, the extra, was Prowl. That vial was a little overly full, and in the heat of my mailbox, some of it had expanded and seeped out. Lovely smell.

So, one by one, I sampled each of the fragrances I'd so carefully chosen. Some were nice, some were okay. But, then, time came when I had no more left to sample but the last one. And lo an behold, it dried down to a lovely scent -- kind of vanilla-y, mostly floral, perhaps musk.

I liked it!

But, when I checked the notes listed on Basenotes and other websites, I saw that Prowl contains patchouli. "Well, I can't like *that* one!" I said to myself. "It has patchouli. And I don't like patchouli."

Sometimes, the only way one can understand time zones is to accept that the world is round.

I finally came to the conclusion, that the only way I can truly enjoy Prowl is to admit the formerly impossible concept. . . "Good heavens! I think I do like patchouli."

Purplebird, I really understand the "Never say never" part now.

Blog Comments

Redneck Perfumisto

League of Cycloöctadiene Isomer Aestheticists
Basenotes Plus
Feb 27, 2008
Hooray! What a great story! I love it! I knew that you liked Prowl, which I thought was kind of interesting, but the details are even more interesting.

This is one of the best examples I've seen of how we learn. In fact, I'm gonna give Prowl another chance. I had sort of written off patchouli recently, due to a sillage disaster with Givenchy Gentleman. Maybe it's time for me to give patchouli another shot (no pun intended).


Well-known member
May 30, 2006
I absolutely understand what you mean and have had a similar experience recently. I don't like patchouli, smells like aftershave to me, nope, don't like it. Chocolate in perfume? Nope; universally vile and plasticky and nasty. Not good. Just don't go there.

Serge Lutens Borneo 1834? Bliss. Heaven. Unalloyed delight.
Who would have guessed? Purplebird, that's who. :)


Well-known member
Sep 2, 2006
I'm so glad I reposted purplebird's list, because the link to Quarry's thread no longer works.

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