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What Triggers a Memory, Like Oma’s 4711 Eau de Cologne

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I’ve always found it interesting to consider all of the things that can trigger a memory.

Music, for example, takes us back to a time and place, an age, our friends, even our mood at the time. I remember Pool Parties the summer between 6th and 7th grade. Low-hipped bell bottom blue jeans were the rage, the ones with 5 snaps horizontally across the waistband tab closure at the top (we called them “elephant bells” because the bottoms flared out so fully). I remember dancing to Knock Three Times (on the ceiling if you want me) by Tony Orlando and Dawn, ABC 123 by the Jackson Five, Go All the Way by the Raspberries, Recalling these tunes makes me want to get up and dance right  now!

Another thing that triggers memories, at least for me, are smells. I was recently having a conversation about products that are discontinued after you’ve claimed them as “yours.” Estee Lauder Long Lasting Lipstick in “Pure Eden” was my signature color for years. When they discontinued it, I was able to order the last 4 lipsticks available through their “Gone but not forgotten” program. These have since been used so completely that I used a lip liner brush to scoop out the bottom of each lipstick tube. I have yet to find a color that matches as perfectly of a warm pink shade as that. ** Sigh ** Actually, one of the reasons I like Estee Lauder lipstick so much is that it has no fragrance or “taste” which really bothers me.

But back to fragrance, I was able to locate a bottle of Catherine Deneuve’s discontinued signature fragrance on ebay. The bottle had never been opened so unwrapping the plastic, removing the bottle top and holding it to my nose, was shear heaven.  I use it sparingly, not everyday as I did when it was readily available, saving it for special occasions.

Another fragrance that brings back memories is my grandmother’s eau de cologne, 4711. My grandparents, on my father’s side, were German and we always called them Oma and Opa. We spent Christmas when I was in 3rd grade with my grandparents in their San Francisco home on Noe Street. I remember standing in front of Oma’s dresser, slowly twisting the red cap off her bottle of 4711 and gently inhaling her fragrance. It wasn’t until I was in my teens that I learned my grandparents’ real names were Ernestine and Charles, or Erna and Charlie. I’ve found on ebay a trial size bottle of 4711 but I’m not willing to pay $20 for a collectible 0.27 oz, that I will just fall back to my fragrance memory that was my grandmother.

For those of us who are also visual, as I am, here are the products I’ve written about:

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