Princess Parking: the rules of combat

We know what you did in the parking lot

We know what you did in the parking lot

As my many readers know, I have a taste for difficult and controversial topics. Indeed, I am completely ruthless in my pseudo-scientific analysis of decisively trivial phenomena. In pursuit of this goal of boldly going where no one has bothered to go before (heedlessly splitting infinitives along the way), I would like to broach the subject of parking lot behaviors. I know this is a sensitive area of research but I can’t back away just because I am going to raise a few eyebrows. I would have preferred to analyze the social and sexual implications of #GamerGate which is also is a highly controversial topic (given the risk of incurring the wrath of #NotAllGamersAreSexistAssHatsButSomeUndeniablyAre, ancillary death threats and the necessity for going into hiding) but lots of other people have discussed it already so it would be redundant. Otherwise I would. Totally.

So, as my loyal readers know, I have been observing Subject A (Brancis), for some years now and I have come to realize that when we drive into a parking lot, his subsequent behavior is not merely an attempt to annoy me. He has A Cunning Plan. Naturally, my inner scientist was aroused mildly interested and I started to analyze the empirical data and to compare it to the parking lot behaviors of other people that I drive around with.

After weeks of computer simulations and number crunching, the results are finally in. I don’t want to go into technical details here but, in simple terms, the computer generalizes across experimental subject’s behaviors and learns the implicit patterns that govern the domain. Standard stuff.

All players start the day with 10 (ten) parking points. The goal is to accumulate the maximum number of points over the course of the day and, hopefully, attain the elusive and mythical Princess Parking, the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a parking space seeker.

Princess Parking is the phenomenon whereby you drive into a crowded parking lot and, slowing down only enough to avoid hitting other cars or pedestrians, zoom straight into the parking slot that is closest to the store’s main doors.  Princess parking, in the conditions described above, is worth a whopping +10 points every day for the next week. That’s how good Princess Parking is.

The La Jolla Ralph's parking lot is a Special Case

The La Jolla Ralph’s parking lot is a Special Condition

Special conditions:

If the parking lot has it’s own fb page, like the notorious La Jolla Ralph’s (see also here) then you can make the case for +5 bonus points for just making it out of the parking lot without a significant loss of mental and physical health.

Parking in the space is for people with disabilities  gets -1,000,000,000,000 points and a lifetime ban on ever feeling that you are a good person. Unless you are disabled in which case, you permitted (but not encouraged) to key the car of any non-disabled person parked in disability spot.

Parking next to the little-known side door of the store does not qualify as Princess Parking. Sorry about that. We have standards.

Of course, Princess Parking is really just a dream for most of us. Every other scenario takes points away from your daily total.

-2 points for parking on the first aisle that you turn drive into as you enter the parking lot as long as there are no empty spots closer to the main door.

-4 points for passing up an empty spot and failing to find one closer.

-2 points for every time you turn into an aisle (and an extra -2 if you have previously turned into that same aisle)

-2 points for boring your spouse/sister by explaining why you are wasting her life driving around a parking lot.

-4 points for spending more than 10mn looking for a spot close to the store front if there are open spots anywhere in the lot. Know when to give up, dude.

-5  points for either 1) following some poor guy holding his keys in his hand around the lot to get his spot when he leaves or 2) waiting in the aisle for someone to leave when no car shows any sign of being occupied by a driver (neither of these apply if you are in a Carrefour parking lot in the Paris region during the Christmas shopping season. If you have experienced this, PLEASE, get help now. There are recovery programs out there. Believe me, eventually the nightmares become less frequent and may, in some cases, even go away altogether*).

-20 points for behaving like a jerk (zooming into a spot when someone else was clearly there first, parking in a spot reserved for carts or other such uncouthness).

-10 points for parking on the street or at the edge of the parking lot when there are likely spots closer to the store. You have clearly decided not to play and don’t deserve any kind of points. We wonder why you have a car in the first place.

There are, of course, some subtleties to scoring your game. For example, during the end of year holidays, you may decide to park on the street and stroll into the store, smiling genially at the people in the cars blocking every aisle of the lot. In this case, you may keep your initial ten points because the intrinsic goal of the game is to bloat your ego and there is nothing quite like strolling by hot, tired people with a pitying smile.

One or two of my experimental subjects contributed material that is not part of the main study and that I include here for completeness:

1) Is it okay to pray for a parking spot?

I have asked around and the general feeling is that it is fine to pray to a deceased family member to intervene on your behalf (“Come on Gran, do this for me.”) and to make promises you know you are unlikely to keep (“Just let me find a spot this one time and I won’t whine about work ever again.”) but it is not okay to pray to a deity. This is about finding a parking space. Get a grip.

2) Do I lose points if I lose my temper?

Yes. Even losing your sense of humor will get you -5. We have to be tough about this. Don’t blame me, I didn’t make the rules, you did.

I think that about rounds it up for Princess Parking, a game of such mind-numbing futility that I can hardly believe how seriously people seem to take it but that, dear Reader, should not stop you telling me about your own experiences. I have a high tolerance for boredom.

A number of people have been asking me for the next installment of my thrilling series “Why are the French?”. I have heard you and I am on it like white on chalk.



Ixnay on the aisleypay


Believing that your mother wears these is key to keeping the world sane.

Right up front, I want to warn you that this post contains material that many of you may consider obscene. I don’t want to reveal too much upfront for the simple reason that I never really know, up front, exactly where my writing will take me. I do, however, feel confident in saying that the words ‘sexual intercourse’ will occur in the same sentence as the word <your mother’s name here>.

<insert sound of galloping feet fading into the distance>

Um. Right. I see, Well let’s have a nice cosy chat, just the two of us. I’ll put the kettle on for tea.

Some few years ago, my youngest son, Bincent (I am using a pseudonym to protect his privacy), said “Mum, don’t ever get that old lady haircut. You know, the one that looks like a ball stuck on your head.” I was a bit perplexed but then again, Bincent often has that effect on people (see his twitter feed if you don’t believe me). I reassured him that I have worn my hair long for the last thirty years and I see no particular reason to change. I have always found long hair to be so very practical. I pin it up when I am hot, let it down when I want to keep the sun off the back of my neck, and stick shiny pins in it if I am going somewhere special. Maintenance is simple: every few months, or in some cases, years, I pop down to the local Hair Hackery and get them to lop off a couple of inches in exchange for a tenner. Sure, they occasionally lop off a chunk of ear or two (yes, really) but they don’t charge extra for it and isn’t that what matters?

I lived thus in happy obliviousness to my doom until this very morning.

As I partook of the early morning caffeinated beverage with my good friend Berri Bray. I mentioned that her hair, a shoulder length blond affair, looked good and her expression darkened. Apparently, and her hairdresser is on a Mission to give her A Nice Sensible Cut. Thus, Berri’s formerly relaxing hairdo appointments have turned into an ongoing skirmish where Berri asserts her right to have just a trim and in return, the lady with the scissors attempts to lop off four or more inches. Starting in the back.

More ominous still, Berri’s trips to Nordies have entered strange and dark territories. Berri, a babe more at home in a bikini than a suit (although her unenlightened employers, Bells Bargo, frown at the former as professional attire), has a lot of nice togs. I am not personally acquainted with style (insert a discussion about research, academia and the art of being taken seriously here  –> <>) but said threads must be decent because her twenty-five year old daughter does not disdain the odd foray into her mum’s closet. On the contrary, in fact.

So, back to Nordies. Well, Berri has noticed on her last few shopping expeditions that when she asks for help selecting a sweater or such, the sales person will suggest something squarish with a nice paisley print. Or worse still, an anchor. AN ANCHOR, I TELL YOU!!!!

I think we all see the trend here. Shorter hair, nice square shape-hiding clothes in tried-and-true old lady styles. Presumably, next they will try and sell her figure-hugging knickers that fit snuggly under the armpits (I deliberately mention knickers because WordPress informs me that my most popular posts include that word. Know your readership, they say.).

Although I am much, much younger than Berri (more than a year younger, as it happens), I too have run into similar problems. Well, not about clothes or hair, because most people have long since given up on me (except the Paris fashion police, aka my sisters, who recently casually remarked recently that long hair just looks wrong on an older woman and that it might be nice if I used an iron occasionally), but I keep running into people of the crass young male type who assume that I am a moron as if diminishing sex appeal is causally related to cerebral hypotrophy (or possibly the opposite. It’s hard to think down to that level).

For example, a young man at the gym mentioned a stats class he was struggling with and I said “What happened?” and he clarified “Stats is statistics.”

Yeah, because  I need some punk who can’t climb a 5.10c to tell me what stats means.

There was also the time at the gym when I complimented a young man on his t-shirt that referenced Schrödinger’s cat and he replied in a patronizing tone “Do you know what Schrödinger’s cat is?

Yes, I do, you smug, sexist asshole.

I liked that about as much as I liked Hillary Rodham Clinton being dismissed as a presidential candidate in 2008 as “the old white woman’s choice.”

So get this, your mother is bright, knowledgeable and wise. She knows more about programming and statistics than you do. She is politically savvy and she is no cheery idealist. She knows what works because she was paying fucking attention the first time round.

Oh, and yeah, she’s likely getting more great sex than you are, loser.

Deal with it.

Getting back to perfume, (she said, in an elegant segue), today I am wearing Coco by Chanel (vintage EDP). A bit big-hair eighties but less unfortunate than Diva (Ungaro) and Giorgio by Giorgio, both of which I tested last week. Diva, initially very pleasant, outlasted its welcome by approximately five hours and I had had enough of Giorgio by the time I finished breakfast and I was thankfully able to scrub it off in the shower.

Today’s truly delightful illustration is filched from here. I included it as a nod to all the 50 year old women I know who buy these specifically to wear to doctor and hospital appointments. Just in case anyone sees their regular undies (possibly not so granny-like) and gets the wrong idea?




The perils of code switching: a cautionary tale

I am just back from France where I keep my extended family. Presumably, they live in closets and boxes for eleven months of the year and, just before my arrival, they jump out and start living regular lives. At least, that’s what I would like to believe but I suspect that they live rich and fulfilling lives even when I am not around. Amazing.

My family has many interesting characteristics such as a tendency to wake up at 2am and have an extended chat about ghosts. They also talk a lot in the daytime and they do that talking in a charming charabia of English and French (more technically, code switchery).  Among themselves, they speak a version of English that was common (pun intended) in the Greater London area some thirty years ago interspersed with Parisian French. It’s a mess to any sane listener but it sounds like home to me. And it is occasionally hilarious.

Case in point: my sister Baroline (this happened to her, but honestly, it could have been any member of my family) had just purcahsed a brand new cell phone. One evening, we sat drinking tea and watching as her incredibly patient and tech-savvy daughter Blaura did the set up (where did she learn that stuff? She’s a law student for heaven’s sake).  Blaura told her mother that she should get a nice hard shell for her phone to prevent it getting broken. My sister replied that she thinks that shells make the phones too clunky and that she prefers her nice phone without a shell. My husband helpfully pointed out that my phone has a nice big purple rubber shell. Blaura mentioned that you can get a nice thin bumper shell that just protects the edges of the phone. Adamant, Baroline stuck to her guns. No shell would disfigure her beautiful phone.

So, why was this funny? Well, Blaura was talking in French and her mother was responding in English but using the French word for shell:

“Tu devrais mettre une cocque sur ton portable pour eviter de le casser.”

“No, I hate cocques. Cocques make your phone big and clunky.”

“Oui, mais si tu le fais tomber, c’est fini. Il faudra le remplacer.”

“I don’t care. Cocques are ugly.”

“Rebecca has a nice big purple cocque on her phone” (helpful interjection from my husband).

“Ou alors, tu peux essayer un bumper. C’est moins gros.”

“I’ve seen the bumper cocques and they are too big. This phone is just too beautiful to put a cocque on it.”

On the plus side, my husband, the only person in the room to notice a certain ambiguity, had a very entertaining time.






Why are the French? (Part I)


Do not make soufflee for French guests

This soufflée wishes the French didn’t but it’s too late now

I have lost count of the number of times a friend has come up to me and said “Polly, you grew up in France. Can you explain to me why the French are so, well, you know.”

And indeed I do.

Obviously, this is not going to be answered in a single blog post. Some of the great minds of modern times have pondered this problem and come up with no more than a Gallic shrug and a few platitudes about cultural differences. Taking a more formal approach, I am going to break the broader question down into smaller, more manageable parts. Yes, I know that you are going to say that the French are an emergent system and that to look at individual subsystems of the phenomenon is to lose sight of the fact that the whole is qualitatively different to the sum of the parts, but that’s research for you. You have to make a few baseline assumptions or you just never get off the ground.

Today let us address the issue of punctuality. The foundational observation is that your French friends arrive consistently late to dinner parties. Naturally, you have tried the old trick of telling them that the party begins at 6 rather than at 6:30 in an effort to get them to arrive on time but you have discovered, as have we all, that moving the time forward makes no difference whatsoever.

After many years of experimenting on my good friends Bnick, Byves and Bisabelle (for ethical reasons, researchers cannot reveal the real names of experimental subjects), I have determined that previous studies based on the underlying lateness of the French are fundamentally flawed. Consider the following data points: I have invited my French friends to my house for dinner at times ranging from 5:00pm to 7:30 in increments of 15mn. In every case, the guests arrived between 7 and 7:30pm.

I propose that in fact, it is not your French guests who are arriving late, but you who are inviting them at the wrong time. There is a time allotted (by whom? This could be a very fruitful area of enquiry for future researchers) for the consumption of the evening meal and that time, ipso facto, is sometime after 7pm.

You are looking perplexed because of course, your French friends always say “What time should we come” and based on this, you have (erroneously) assumed that they desired to know what time they should arrive.  My research indicates “What time should we come?” (as uttered by a French person) is semantically vacuous and requires no answer, much in the same way that “How do you do?” is vacuous in British English.

While the data speaks for itself, let me illustrate the concept with a little anecdote. Recently, I took a French friend out for Happy Hour drinkies. This is San Diego and the only reason to not drink a cocktail at 4pm would be that you have plans to celebrate the arrival of the dinner hour with a micro-brew. Bictoria (again, that’s not her real name) was courteous about participating in the event, but as she sat nursing her glass, she said “It’s a bit strange to be drinking at 4pm.”

And there you have it. Drinking at brunch is fine. Likewise, drinking before, during and after meals is tickety-boo. A little nightcap before bed?  Probably recommended by doctors. But drinking at 4pm? Bictoria was game to try something new but her discombobulation was patent. Her expression seemed to indicate that while it may not be actually illegal to drink cocktails at 4pm, it’s just a little bit, well, wrong really.

The purpose of this study is not to elucidate every aspect of what I conceptualize here as an example of French Exogenous Cultural Entropy Scheduling. This work is a proof of concept and I now lay it out in public so that other researchers can investigate the actual internal timing of meal events in the French psyche.

Beyond the theoretical aspects of this ground breaking work, I wish also to provide the community with some simple solutions for enjoying the company of their French friends without undue stress. Here is a list of strategies as elaborated by myself and my research associates. These solutions are still in the research stage and have not yet received FDA approval so please proceed with all due caution:

1) Organize your dinner parties to start between 7 and 7:30

2) Invite your French guests to a late High Tea. Naturally, they will hate the idea because they are totally unused to getting themselves ready and out of the house by 4pm. This will cause them to arrive horribly late for tea but at just about the right time for a nice early dinner.

3) Start eating without them.

Naturally, I wish to thank my research subjects for contributing their time to this research which has not, regrettably, been funded by any government agency.






The Kicked Puppy: prevention and recovery

A Kicked Puppy looks almost exactly like this

“Why are you so mean to me?”

This is the second part of our special series on under-studied life skills. The first part, The Poor Baby, a research based approach, was immensely popular and confirmed the need for this type of elaborately well-crafted but transparently pointless pseudo-academic discussion. Indeed, our research has shown that the Kicked Puppy is second only to the Poor Baby as a subject of panicked texts between close friends (“I lost it and kicked the puppy. I am so screwed. Can I come over?”)

What is the Kicked Puppy?

The Kicked Puppy is a member of your household who has been (in their view) undeservedly berated and looks at you with sad and wounded eyes, thus inflicting copious, even crippling, amounts of guilt.

Is the Kicked Puppy larger than the Puppy Kicker?

If you kick a real puppy, or some other entity incapable of defending itself, you deserve to feel like crap. The Kicked Puppy applies only in cases where a demeanor of ill-used innocence is incongruous with the size, strength and general cussedness of the kickee (the recipient of the kick) relative to the kicker (performer of the kick).

Is the kicker always female and the kickee always male?

No, the gender of the persons involved is unimportant. Both participants in the kick event might easily be of the same gender. Because women tend to be smaller than their male partners, Kicked Puppies are common in straight relationships.

Standard form

Ironically, the kicked puppy occurs most commonly when a woman has been particularly patient. Over several days, possibly weeks, she has asked her SO (boyfriend, husband, sex slave, ex), for something relatively minor, perhaps to take out the trash or do the laundry. Saintlike, she has even done the chore herself once or twice but then things start mounting up again. Eventually, she will come home from a particularly bad day at the office and find that the refrigerator is empty and the trashcan full, and before she can restrain herself, she will execute a short sharp (metaphorical) kick to the puppy.

The kicked puppy will immediately look severely ill-used and say “If you had just said something, I would have done it.” You can apologize all you want. The kicked puppy has the moral high-ground and he knows it. By being patient for too long, you devalorized the urgency of the task and the abrupt escalation is seen as disproportionate to the wrong-doing. There is nothing more to do other than to feel guilty about your ill-nature until the Puppy finds something better to do.


There is no known method of prevention.  The Kicked Puppy happens specifically because you tried too hard to be nice and reasonable in the first place.  Mean and unreasonable have their own drawbacks.


Kicking the puppy is the worst way of getting something you want. Nothing but time can get you out of it and the severity of the event is not mitigated by the number of times you asked nicely before eventually snarling savagely. In this case, prevention is better than cure.

Variant form

I was under the impression that the Kicked Puppy is pretty much a universally defined behavior but I was wrong. A friend recently told me about the Wounded Dog. While the actual kicking event is technically similar in both cases, the Wounded Dog has aggrieved and angry eyes and is liable to bite back. I’m not an expert on this form but apparently, the guilt is less because the Wounded Dog is sure to do something stupid (like accuse you of something unconvincingly trivial or shout back) that loses him the moral high-ground.

Further research 

If you have any information on how to deal with the Kicked Puppy (prevention and/or recovery), please let the rest of us know.






Schrödinger’s grilled cheese sandwich

This cat is in a state of indterminacy

This cat is in a state of indeterminacy

We have all been confronted by the Grilled Cheese Indeterminacy, or as it is more commonly known, Schrödinger’s Grilled Cheese Sandwich.  Like other natural phenomena such as rainbows, it is such an integral part of the human experience that we sometimes cease to question, though never to wonder. Of late, less preoccupied by other scientific endeavors, I have bent my not-inconsiderable intellect to more ample consideration of this issue.

1. Definition

The fundamental observation is that if you eat one grilled cheese sandwich, it is never quite enough. However, and this is the crucial issue, if you eat more than one, you will be overly full. Therefore, we can say that that the event horizon bifurcates after the first sandwich, leaving the consumer in a state of indeterminacy. At that second in time, before the decision is made to order, or nota second sandwich, the probability field collapses and both realities exist simultaneously as entropy approaches infinity asymptotically (I have a truly marvelous demonstration of this proposition which this margin is too narrow to contain).

2. The axiomatic grilled cheese sandwich

A grilled cheese sandwich, by default and by popular consensus, is composed of two slices of  sliced industrial bread, butter and Amurikan cheese.  Butter is applied to the outer surfaces of the bread while the interior is loaded with exactly two slices of cheese. The resulting pap is fried on a griddle or frypan till crispiness ensues on the outside and gooey yumminess on the inside. Note that if the sandwich does not conform to this recipe, the indeterminacy may apply only inconsistently. For example, some people, and we have to accept some diversity of opinion so I will just call these people “misguided” rather than “ungodly”, feel that a grilled cheese should contain a slice of anemic tomato. Naturally, this is up to them but the belief that adding a couple of vitamins and a tad of roughage to the sandwich will improve the healthiness of the resulting product is laughable. Correspondingly, the sogginess imparted by the tomato may be such that satiation can occur with less than a single sandwich. Shocking but true.

3. Is the grilled cheese sandwich the only food for which Schrödinger’ indeterminacy applies?

That is an excellent question and I’m glad you asked. My husband, something of a cynic regarding my scientific endeavors (the rat), has suggested that both hot dogs and cheesecake are subject to a similar rule but this is clearly not true and I can prove it by using my words. Firstly, there is no slice of cheesecake served that is not sickly by the third  mouthful (± 2 mouthfuls) and as for hotdogs, it is demonstrable that they define two populations of consumers: those who can eat any number of hotdogs and those who, ravenous, give in to temptation and eat one and then, remembering what the hotdog is made of, hate themselves for the rest of the day. I’m not saying that the compulsion to eat unhealthy amounts of cheesecake and hotdogs isn’t interesting, just that it is not an example of indeterminacy.

4. Do you have to eat an entire second grilled cheese sandwich before remorse sets in?

No, often a bite or two will suffice. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

5. Are scientists exploring the quantum physics that underpin the grilled cheese indeterminacy? Will we ever have a definitive answer?

Naturally, when we think of indeterminacy we think of Schrödinger’s cat. As the cat is neither alive nor dead, so is the consumer of a single grilled cheese both unsatiated and sickened. Happily, since the discovery of the Higgs-boson particle, the Hadron super-collider has been freed up and research is now actively ongoing. It’s not clear that we will have an answer in our lifetimes, but I think that, given sufficient resources (and cats), our grandchildren will gain insights into one of great mysteries of the universe. I suspect that it has something to do with the Mayan calendar.

Today’s image is filched from here.




My cat smells and so should you

Grumpy Cat: it's not him, it's you.

Grumpy Cat: it’s not him, it’s you.

Every day, I hear people saying that they don’t like to wear perfume but in truth, we have never been more subjected to fragrance than we are today, nor had so little choice about it. From toilet cleaners to bug sprays, our lives are infested with unlikely odors.

Hmmm… now I think about it, it might be fun to to have a set of differently fragrant shampoos, toilet fresheners and such: “Sweetie, I’m a bit blue today. Do you  think you could  freshen the crapper commode with a nice spritz of Peaceful Lavender rather than the Lemon Zinger?”

Sigh. A girl can dream.

Likewise, pharmaceutical companies want you to believe that the minty taste of your toothpaste and mouthwash has some medicinal property, but only the brushing and antibacterial agents really play a role. The minty fresh fragrance is there merely (well, it isn’t trivial) to make the experience pleasant for you and those around you (and don’t get me started on the use of triclosan, the stuff in hand sanitzer, toothpastes and children’s bloodstreams). If you don’t believe me, I can send you the bottle of post-surgery mouthwash prescribed by my dentist. Foul, chemical tasting and utterly effective, certainly; minty, pleasant and sure to give you that ‘kissable’ fresh breath, no way. Or at least, I didn’t get any takers.

What I am trying to say is that people associate scent and cleanliness as they never used to. I suspect that one of the culprits is general prissiness and an unwillingness to understand the difference between hygiene (the thing that prevents the transmission of harmful germs) and grossness (aka the yuck, or ewwww,  factor).

For example, a couple of years ago, a French woman told me that she was horrified when her sister-in-law prepared food while wearing a tank top because she doesn’t shave under her arms. Well, I can see that is not a pretty picture but it does seem unlikely that pit cooties (that is their technical name) could, even if they were harmful, jump out and squat on the food. I’m not saying it is impossible, just that I have trouble imagining that particular event.  But there it is, the yuck factor at work. The fact is that however gross and disgusting a woman may be if she does not shave in all the appropriate places, it is an esthetic choice, not a sanitary one.

Similarly, at our climbing gym, some of the women got together and demanded that notices be posted asking people to remove their climbing shoes before using the restrooms. Apparently, these women were repulsed by the  idea that they had to place their hands on climbing holds touched by bathroom-floor-soiled climbing slippers.

I was a bit surprised because a more logical solution would be to ask clients to refrain from wearing street shoes on the mats and climbing shoes off them. My best guess would be that gym clients rarely poop on the impeccably cleaned and sanitized restroom floors, but dogs definitely poop on sidewalks and that gets tracked everywhere on street shoes (including on the foam flooring mats of the gym). I talked to the desk manager about it and it became clear that the whole discussion was moot because 1) the holds on climbing walls are encrusted with a disgusting, occasionally moist, amalgam of sweat, chalk and climbing shoe rubber and no one in their right mind would put their hands near their faces after touching them. Hand washing after a climbing session is the best use of soap that I have seen in my adult life, and 2) the client’s concern was about yuckiness, not hygiene.

My point here, and I do have one though I may have wandered just a tad off the straight and narrow, is that we are surrounded by mediocre pongs. Pongs that do not fulfill our noses in the same way that a Twinkie (and I am not dissing the Twinkie per se, so calm down), does not give you a good, full belly feeling.

The good news is that there are so many wonderful fragrances out there still. Fragrances that are bewitching, sensual, fresh and flowery, dark and sinful, fragrances that will enhance your good days and console the bad ones. And if you are really into ‘loud airport toilet florals’ (dixit Luca Turin), go with Gardenia by Chanel. A tad pricey but the bottle is much prettier than Glade.

Today’s illustration is not our cat because I couldn’t find him to take a picture. He does smell though. I call him Fish-Breath but it’s a bit of a mystery because he isn’t allowed fishy food. The picture is actually my new key ring, Grumpy Cat, a gift from a dear friend. This is the second time friends have given me a nickname that involves the word ‘grumpy’ but I know it is a just a coincidence. They are such teases.