The Trouble With Saffron

[A love story inspired by Safran Troublant by L’Artisan Parfumeur.  Many of my favorite scents take center stage, while others have cameos.]

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“Joey?  Can you be a sweetie and get the door?”

“Sure.  I wonder who it is.”

“Nobody on my schedule.  I just assumed it was one of your people.”

“I don’t know – I think I’m gonna look out the….  It’s Saffron!”

“Saffron!  Come on in!”

“Hey, Joey!”

“What a wonderful surprise!”

“I’m sorry, Joey.  I know I didn’t call.  It’s just that I…”

“Saffron – don’t even think that you would have to call…  Hey, Silvio!  Guess who?”

“Hey there, Silvio!”

“Saffie!  Come here and give Silvio a hug!  Please!”

“God, it’s good to see you guys!”

“You, too!  You know, just the other day, Joey was saying…”

“Now let’s not go tattling…”

“What?  C’mon, Joey!  Spill!”

“Oh, it’s nothing, Saff.  We were saying that we just have to help you find your Prince Charming.  It’s just not right that a beautiful girl like you…”

“Oh, you guys!  You’re worse than my aunts….”

“See?  I told you she’d need some persuasion.”

“Really.  I’m doing fine.  Did I tell you I was dating again?”

“Oh, Saff!  That’s wonderful news!”

“Well, my work here is done.  Good for you, Saffie.  Who is it?”

“Oh, God.  I’m so embarrassed!”

“Joey!  Do you hear that?”

“Yes – the sound of hearts breaking all over town.  Come on, Saffron.  Let it out.”

“You guys are so terrible!”

“I think she’s blushing.  Silvio?  Is that a blush?”

“I do believe it is.  And that can only mean one thing…”

“Oh my God!  It’s somebody we know, isn’t it?  Oh my God!”

“It’s not a girl, is it?”

“A girl?  Saffron!  Don’t tell me we’ve been a bad influence on you!”

“You guys!  Ha!  Of course it’s a guy!”

“Well, as long as he’s straight.  We don’t need any more competition, do we, now?”

“Definitely not.”

“So who is it?”

“It’s Hugo.”

“Hugo?  Bass?  Oh, Saffie.  I…”

“What?  What’s wrong…?”

“Joey!  Cut it out.  I think it’s wonderful.  Hugo’s a great guy.  Everybody thinks he’s adorable.  Even Joey.  Isn’t that right, Joey?  Joey?”

“<Sigh>  Yes, he’s a nice guy.  But he’s just not fireworks.  And Saffie deserves fireworks.  I don’t know.  Maybe I’m being too hard on him.  He really is a cutie…”

“Joey’s just jealous.  I think he had some kind of a thing for Huey.”

“Huey?”

“Sorry, Saff.  Hugo it is.”

“Joey?  There’s something you’re not telling me.  Isn’t there?”

“Silvio?  Help me out.”

“Good God, Joey.  What on Earth are you talking about?”

“Remember that of which we do not speak?”

“Oh GOD!”

“I told you.”

“Houston – we’ve got a problem!”

“What?  What are you guys talking about?  I mean, he’s not…”

“No, it’s…”

“Oh, God.  He’s gay!”

“No, no, no!  Absolutely not!”

“Oh, God.  How could I be so blind.  Oh,….”

“Stop it!  Just stop it, Saffron!  He is NOT gay!  Joey?  Tell her.  If you don’t, I will.”

“Oh, God.”

“Joey?  What is it?”

“Joey?”

“It’s his friends.”

“His friends?”

“Actually, Saff, it’s more like a friend.”

A friend?”

“Yes.  A friend.  Who happens to be Joey’s brother.”

“Brother?  Joey?  You never told me you had a…”

“Remember?  ‘That of which we do not speak’?  And there is good reason.”

“Oh, God, Saff.  I’m so sorry.”

“What?  You guys are acting like it’s the end of the world!”

“Oh, Saff – if only it were that easy.  Nuclear destruction – poof – a little pain – and it’s over.”

“What?  Joey’s brother can’t be that bad.”

“Saffie – there are some things that only men understand – like the actual end of the world. I know that sounds terribly sexist, but you’ve got to trust us on this.”

“Oh, Silvio.  I just want to die.  My life is ruined.  My prettiest and most innocent friend – my straight muse – snatched from my life by cruel fate.  The poison in my own blood, sent through another to do me in.”

“I don’t believe you guys!  This has got to be a joke.  You’re pulling my leg.”

“Oh, no.  Don’t make that mistake, Saff.  Run!  Run while you still have a chance.  Go home.  Go to bed.  Forget about everything that happened here today.  Call up Hugo and tell him he’s a pathetic piece of filth and you never, ever want to see him again.  Oh, Saff.  Do it for us.  Please!”

“Silvio is right.  Don’t ask why.  Just do it.  Go home.  Pretend that you never heard about that of which we do not speak.  We’ll find you somebody.  I promise.  Somebody who deserves you.”

“Look, I’m sorry.  I’m not going to stop dating somebody because of some friend of theirs who I haven’t even met.  It’s ridiculous.  I mean, who’s to say that I’ll even meet him?”

“Oh, you will.  And you will rue the day, sister.”

“Absolutely.  Trust us on this, Saff.  When that day comes, and you come beating on our door with a broken stiletto, crazy with anger, in a filthy, soiled dress with mascara running down your cheeks, don’t blame us, dear.  It will be all we can do not to say ‘told you so’.”

“God, I can see it now.  I’m going to be hiding in the clothes hamper.  Please don’t look there, Saff.  If I think he’s coming after you, I may have a gun. Well – probably just a bread knife.”

“You guys are terrible!  OK – now I know you really are pulling my leg.  But I’m not leaving until you tell me more about this guy.  He sounds interesting.”

“Oh, God.  We failed.”

“INTERESTING!!!???  SAFF!!!  Get a grip!  Cholera is interesting.  9/11 was interesting.  You don’t want interesting.”

“Saffie, dear – interesting is tragedy on the other end of the opera glasses.  This is one time you don’t want to be onstage.”

“So what’s wrong with him?”

“Joey?  Tell her.  He’s your brother.”

“Joey?”

“No, you do it, Silvio.  I simply can’t deal.  I think I’m getting another headache.”

“Oh, you poor thing.”

“I’m sorry, Joey.  It’s all my fault.  Oh, God.  I should have  never come…”

“No, Saff – you did the right thing.  You’re lucky you came by here.  God – just think if you hadn’t.  Saff, dear – do you have something in your purse?  Joey?  Would you like something for your headache?”

“Yes.  That would be great.”

“There.  Midol.  Well, it’ll have to do.  Joey?  Here.”

“Thanks, Silvio.  Saff – you’re an angel.”

“You know, maybe I should just get going…”

“Now hold your horses, dear.  Joey may be down for the count, but I’m not.  And it’s time for your wake-up call.  You’re one little birdie who’s not ending up as another lump in Snakie-Poo’s disgusting potbelly.”

“Snakie-Poo?”

“It’s about as far as brotherly love is going with me, sister.”

“Wait a second.  Hugo mentioned a friend called ‘Snake’.  Is that the guy?”

“Saffie – think of it this way.  Should you be going out with a person who has even one friend named ‘Snake’?  Really.  Think about it.”

“Hugo said he’s a climber!”

“Hugo said he’s a climber!  So, poser-boy is a climber now.  Did you hear that Joey?”

“Good – well, maybe he can return all the climbing gear he ‘borrowed’ so he could learn.”

“Snake has ‘issues’ with things like personal property.”

“You mean he’s a thief?”

“Joey?  It’s your call.”

“Tell her.”

“What?”

“Snake is on probation.  Grand theft.”

“What did he do?  Steal a car?”

“Joey?”

“God, it’s so embarrassing.  Just shoot me.”

“What?”

“He stole six Japanese washlets.  You know – bidets.  The toilets that spray your ass.  Only more high-tech.”

“What?”

“They were for his wife.  She’s OCD.  He told the judge it was to save his marriage.  But you want to know my theory?  I think he just knew it was so ridiculous that if he got caught, he would only get probation.  He’s sooooo devious.”

“I think it’s cute.  You know, it’s almost like performance art.”

“A half-dozen butt-fountains of rose water for Valentine’s Day?  Come on, Saffie.  A girl can do better than that.”

“I don’t know.  It strikes me as oddly romantic.  I’d really like to meet the guy now.  Besides, he’s married – and obviously in love with his wife.  What’s the danger?  I think you guys are being way too hard on him.  Poor guy.  I almost admire Hugo for having a friend like that.”

“Oh, Saffron.  You just don’t get it.  He seems good – in a weird way.  But it’s just an act.”

“Oh, such an act. He fools everybody. Have you heard about his new friend? Terry Hermez? Can you believe it? A class act like Terry?”

“Incredible. There should be matter-antimatter annihilation. It’s a violation of physical law.”

“You guys!”

“You want to know my theory? It’s “Goochie” Forman – his rich billiards buddy. He rains money on Snake’s parade, and the world thinks it’s paradise in Snakeville.”

“Do you think he’s bipolar?”

“Absolutely not. Let’s not insult bipolar by such thoughts.”

“From what Hugo was saying, it sounds like he just has a little bit too much joie de vivre.”

“Saff – it’s like this.  If you could take joie de vivre, and corrupt it somehow – you know, make it evil, or an illness or something.  That would be Snake.”

“That’s it, Silvio!  You’ve hit the nail on the head.  I think that’s his evil attraction.  If we could somehow make him angry or depressed, we could defeat him.  His personality cult would vanish in a puff of bad cologne.”

“I doubt it.  He seems to have the protection that God grants to fools and saints.  He’s like Darth Vader’s cousin, Bubba Vader.  ‘The Force is strong with this one’.

“Yes.  He builds an evil empire of noxious fragrances, partly-working motorcycles, and his greatest invention yet – the glow-in-the-dark clay pigeon.”

“Curses.  Who could possibly prevail against such intellect?”

“OK.  I think that we’ve technically crossed the line into bitchy.”

“Sister – you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.  Wait until he pulls his next evil trick – whatever that might be.”

“Oh my God – I’m getting a text.”

“And?”

“It’s Mother.  Oh, God.  It’s a warning.”

“No!”

“The evil one just hit her up for rent money.”

“We’re doomed.”

“Saff – it’s time to vamoose.”

“No way!  He’s coming over here, isn’t he?”

“Joey?  We’ve got to put our foot down.”

“No.  I’ve got a better idea.”

“Yes?”

“Reverse psychology.  Let her see him in all his glory.  We’ll be like provocateurs.  We’ll encourage him.”

“Joey, dear – you’re a genius.  You do the place settings and I’ll do the china.”

“What are you guys doing?”

“Well, normally we hide the silverware.  This time, we’re trying a new tactic.”

“Saff?”

“Yes?”

“You watch Greta, don’t you?”

“Um, yeah?”

“How much would Snake have to steal to violate his probation?”

***************

“Oh, God.  I see his pickup truck.”

“Thank goodness for text-grannies.  Your mother has a special place in Heaven for that one.”

“Now remember – play hard to get on the rent money.  You’re good cop.  I’m bad cop.  But we don’t give it up until we both agree.”

“You guys are such meanies.  Conspiring against poor Snake.”

“Oh, pooh.  Wait until he calls you a hottie to your face.  How long do you think it will take him, Joey?  My money says one minute.”

“I say less.  Saff is definitely his type.”

“What’s his type?”

“No Y chromosome.”

“Ooooo.  Good one.”

“Guys!  Cut it out.  He’s gonna be here any second!”

“No, I think you’re right.  Saff has this kind of slightly dark, Pocahontas-meets-surgically-attached-cell-phone-chickie thing going on.  I think Snakie’s gonna fall hard.”

“You’re right!  She kind of resembles his no-good biker buddy.  What’s his name?”

“Foo Absinthe?  That swarthy guy with the ridiculous handlebar moustache?”

“That’s right.  That kind of dark, sexy, in-your-face macho shit, but femme it up enough to go to work.”

“Yes!  Lose the black leather jacket, but keep the boots and give them heels.  Frilly top, tight pants.  Floral but not prissy.”

“Outdoorsy but wild – not gardeny.  She rides something on weekends, and you can’t tell if it’s motocross, touring, or fence-jumping.”

“Guys!  Stop deconstructing me!”

“Saff – you’re a Goddess.  Deal.”

“Here we go.  Showtime, people.  Break a leg.”

“Hey there, Joey!  Silvio.”

“Well hello sailor!  We thought we heard your truck out there.  Come on in.”

“Hey!  Who’s hot-stuff here?  You gonna introduce me, or do I have to give her one of my cards?”

“Saffron – the one and only Snake Waters.  Snake – Saffron Troublant.  She’s just dying to meet you, of course.”

“En-shan-tay – or whatever in the hell they say in Frog-town.”

“Ha!  Likewise.  I’ve heard a lot about you.  We have a friend in common.  I mean, besides Joey.”

“Wait!  Hugo Bass, right?  You’re his girlfriend!”

“Yes.  We’ve been going out.”

“Now I know where I saw you.  The picture in his wallet.”

“So he really does show it to people!  Wow.”

“Hell yes.  Hugo’s a great guy.  I haven’t been doing much with him lately, and I feel like a real piece of shit about it, but he’s a nice guy.  I mean, it’s obvious why he’s so popular.  He’s quiet and classy.  Clean-cut.  Chicks dig him.”

“Well, I certainly do.”

“Listen – Saffron.  Can I talk to Silvio and my bro in private for a second?  It’s a money matter.”

“Sure.  I’ll just go make myself something in the kitchen.”

“Thanks, babe.  You’re a doll.”

“So what’s with the drama, Snake?”

“Yeah, Snake.  You’re not usually so discreet with the enterprise financial transactions.”

“Oh, yeah.  It’s the chick.  I don’t want her to hear.”

“We got that part, dear.  The question is, why not?”

“Because it’s for her.”

“What’s for her?”

“The money.  Well, kind of.  First, it’s for Hugo.”

“I’m sorry.  I’m not following.”

“OK, I’ll spell it out.  Hugo loaned me a lot of lawyer bucks during my legal bullshit.  It’s how come I got off with time served.  He never told anybody about it.  He never even pressured me to get it back.  But now he meets this chick.  He thinks this is the real McCoy.  He wants to get her a ring, but he can’t afford it.  Hell – the AC repair market is really tight this time of year.  He’s lucky they even kept him on.  But he’s never gonna get a shot at a chick like this again.  So I need somebody to bail him out and take my debt.  It’s enough for a decent ring and a class honeymoon.”

“And that’s it?”

“That’s it.  Just write a check to Hugo Bass.  Then I start paying you guys back instead of him.”

“Guys?”

“Guys?”

“Did I say something?”

“Sorry, Snake.  It’s my allergies.  Of course we’ll bail you out.  What are friends for?  Joey?”

“Us?  Stand in the way of true love?  Good God, bro.  What do you take us for?  And I’m not exactly happy that you hit Mom up for rent money, either.  Next time, just come straight to us.”

“Well, I was hoping you guys would bail out Hugo, and I didn’t want to queer… I mean jinx…”

“We get it.  You’re thinking smart, as always.”

“Well, what do you know?  I have my checkbook right here.  Oh my God!  It’s already got your name on it.  Snake – you made me void a check.  And I’ve never been so proud to do it in my life.  I think you just redeemed yourself.  Here.  Fill it in.  I don’t want to know.”

“You guys are great.  I really appreciate this.”

“Don’t push it.  We reserve the right to be bitchy about this.”

“Saffie?  Get your heinie out here.  We just heard some major gossip about your boy Hugo.”

“Oh my God.  It’s not bad, is it?”

“Of course not, dearie.  Apparently, two young lads have fallen quite hard for Hugo, and they think he’s fair game.  Now we also know for a fact that he’s not gay.  But the problem is, if these boys start talking him up with the girls, well…. you could be up against a wee bit of competition.”

“Saffron – sometimes if you want to see fireworks, you have to be the one with the matches.  Isn’t that right, Snake?”

fireworks.jpg

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