She was my friend and my flatmate, we agreed on lots of things, but we didn’t share the same taste in perfume.

Getting ready for a night out she would put on her preferred fragrance, I think it was Elizabeth Arden Red Door. I would wrinkle my nose and insist she smelt of menthol, as if she’d used Deep Heat instead of perfume. She would wrinkle her nose back at me, telling me my perfume (I don’t remember the name of the scent, I think it was from a company called Red Earth) smelt of the disinfectant they used at the hospital where she worked.

I guess some friendships work because of the differences as much as the similarities. And at least we both knew that neither of us would steal the other one’s perfume.

Some years later, I meet up with her fiance at the perfume counter of a department store. He wants to buy her perfume for Christmas and wants my advice on what to get.

He suggests YSL Paris. I take a sniff of it and recoil.

“Oh that’s truly awful. You should get it for her.”

Poor boy was confused.

“But you just said it was awful. Why should I get her this perfume if you think it’s awful?”

I explain to him about how his fiancee and I could never like the same fragrance. So extrapolating that logic, my intense disgust at the smell of YSL Paris meant that she would like it.

I’m not sure he was convinced by my logic, but he bought it anyway.

And she loved it.

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