“Honesty,” “spoilage,” and spoiling fun for others.


In a recent FromPyrgos blog post, perhaps the most disingenuous thing I’ve ever seen on that site was written:

My mission in life is not to ruin the fun for vintage enthusiasts. My mission is to be more honest.

Now it’s possible that someone is so self-deluded that he or she actually believes this, and I think this is the case here because of the first sentence – who does he think cares about his opinion enough to stop wearing scents he or she thinks are fabulous (out of the small number of people who read his blog)? In any case I’ll move on to what I find to be more significant:

There was a basenotes thread a while back in which the OP touted the notion that he’s never encountered a spoiled vintage, or that at least the number of times he’d smelled a spoiled scent were far outnumbered by the times he’d smelled perfectly preserved vintages. He kept asking people to send him their spoiled scents, I guess to prove the point that people were lying about their claims of encountering spoilage, which seemed downright strange, if you ask me. It didn’t occur to him that people usually toss their spoiled fragrances shortly after purchase, nor did it seem reasonable to him to suppose that nobody would want to be bothered to go to the trouble of packaging and mailing a bottle of skunked juice to god knows where. What would that prove?

I know I’ve said this more than once and I don’t remember reading anyone else making this offer so it clearly is referring to me. If the FromPyrgos author is such an “honest” person why doesn’t he tell his readers about the person to whom he is referring? Oops – that must have escaped his mind for some reason, as did a blog post of mine from November 30, 2014 entitled Bigsly “mythbusting” basics. In that post there is the following passage:

The first point about this is that the claim always seems to shift, or at least means different things to different people. Some seem to think that a Creed scent they bought a few years ago is “spoiled” if the top notes seem different after a few months. Interestingly, the FromPyrogs author, apparently a supporter of certain spoilage claims, thinks that Green Irish Tweed needs to age for several months, in order to improve the smell! Then there are those who don’t realize that sometimes the liquid in the tube does smell bad (at first), and those who are lacking in olfactory self-awareness (meaning that they can’t imagine that their perceptions have changed rather than the scent). I’ve pointed out that not only do I try to avoid most of the fleeting top notes, but I have also encountered vinegar-like or varnish-like top notes (rarely), or as one person phrased it, a “burnt vanilla” quality. I have yet to experience a drydown that seemed wrong, let alone spoiled. In any case, how is one to address a subject that includes such different definitions, especially when most of the claimants seem unaware of the fact they don’t agree with each other about what they mean? And even for those who are willing to admit that it’s highly unlikely that what one may call “true spoilage” is common, I have yet to hear a reasonable argument about why someone should be criticized for enjoying vintage drydowns, even if they are slightly different than they were 30 or 40 years ago – why does that seem to greatly upset some people?

There are some simple “solutions.” A sample swap or purchase of several vintage scents of interest (for perhaps $12 total) would provide plenty of information. If I said that the scents in question had non-“spoiled” drydowns and the person thought at least one was spoiled, then he or she could refrain from future swaps with me. But here’s an important piece of information: out of all the vintage swaps or sales I’ve done (hundreds at this point, if one calls a scent “vintage” at about the ten year mark), there have been no complaints about “spoilage.” Here is what I remember:

1. A complaint about particles in a B*Men sample. I contacted Mugler and they said that was normal as the scent ages but that it doesn’t affect the scent. I still have that bottle and the scent is fine.

2. A complaint about a Monsieur Rochas sample’s top notes. I disclosed before the sale that I can’t speak to top notes because I try to largely avoid the first ten minutes or so of a scent.

3. A few remarks about how good my vintage Polo is, and more than a few telling me that my samples seem much stronger and richer than the ones they’ve gotten elsewhere (on retail sites).

4. Something about a 273 Indigo for Men bottle (sealed spray), but at the time I was a total newbie and had no idea what “spoilage” was. It may be that the guy really just hated the scent, as I did.

5. I’ve pointed out to several people when I think top notes are “off,” though the only scent that may have a problematic drydown is an Early American Old Spice bottle I recently acquired. It supposedly contains ambergris so I’m not sure if that’s what it is (in other scents with strong aldehydes that seems “off” at first, that quality doesn’t last long), or if there is a problem with the aldehydes. I’ve never smelled this kind of thing before, and I enjoy the scent as is. I would not sell or swap my bottle but would make a few samples, though I would be certain to disclose my perceptions before a swap or sale was agreed upon.

If someone fears “spoilage” and can’t abide the thought of “losing” $12, that is his or her decision. If I was a newbie and read many posts by someone who clearly had studied a large number of vintage scents (both “men’s” and “women’s”) and I was interested in these concoctions, $12 would be a small prices to pay for several samples, so that I could get a sense of what the reality was. I do ask others to smell the scent I’m wearing and nobody ever said it smelled like a sewer, nail polish, bug spray, varnish, etc. Moreover, I’ll mentioned that my feedback on Makeupalley was 114 (it closed the swap section recently) and it is 283 on Basenotes. In total that’s 397, and all positive! What does the author at FromPyrgos have to base his honesty claim upon?

Lastly, I’ll bring up the old saying about the exception proving the rule, except in this case there is no exception, that is, not one person has offered to sell me a “spoiled” bottle. If you had the choice between throwing some horrible-smelling leftover food in the garbage or sending it to me and getting $50 in return, what would be your choice? The FromPyrgos author reaches new heights of absurdity by mentioning this, because it is close to an outright refutation of his position. It’s made even funnier by him saying that a package would have to be shipped “god knows where,” even though on my Basenotes posts one can see the US flag and on my swap/sales pages I say USA only. Of course it would take less than a minute to send me a private message there, saying something like, “Hi, would you buy my spoiled bottle of Bois du Portugal, 2.5 oz, about 95% full for $50? I can only ship within the USA?” Again, “mister honesty” either can’t imagine this or is deliberately being misleading, it would seem.

For another possible issue with this individual’s claim about being honest I suggest reading this old post of mine:

https://bigslyfragrance.wordpress.com/2014/08/30/psychoanalysis-versus-psychotherapy/

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Filed under Criticizing the critics.

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