Any other name

I can smell roses.

Oh, those? Well, yes, those are gorgeous. They're flirting with me right now from the living room table, splaying their petals, winking with dew, projecting that rosy 'tude which is equal parts Atonement-esque doomed innocent to Sunset Boulevard-esque blowsy has-been , inserting their subversive sex-n-death symbolism into the spurious sentiment-fest that is Valentines Day.

But no, that scent isn't coming from them. It's coming from me. It's coming from the Stella on my neck and wrists, the Quinessence Rose Damask toner and Dr Hauschka Rose Day Cream on my face, the D&G Wake Up And Smell The Roses lippie in Scarlett on my pout.

In all honesty, roses basically smell of shit, and I smell of roses: ergo. But I don't care. In fact, the whole reason I revel in their stink like a stray dog rolling in his own crap is because of that half-blasted quality, that dark, dank edge which tempers their sweetness.  Being pale, English, Shakespeare-saturated and wary of cliché, it took me a while to admit to myself that roses were my signature scent, but in truth nothing better captures the savour of a late-twenties life poised between blossom and rot.

I love the attar, the water, the syrup, the jam. I love the putrescent punch of the Musk, the delicate herbal tint of the Tea, the balsamic spice of the Moss and Damask's ancient, sulphurous tang. Whenever I visit my mother's house,  I steal great gloops of her Ren Moroccan Rose Otto Bath Oil; the hot, lubricious fumes transform me into a narrow-eyed, damp-haired, pink-fleshed slab of human Turkish delight. At the chocolate counter, I am the single customer asking for the rose creams, those coy, kitsch little cups topped with their sugary nipples of pink. I eat them at home, alone; and their powdery, floral, faintly paracetemol taste has all the authentic half-blasted beauty-and-beastliness of the flower herself. I watch the dozen there on the dining room table, smelling more of rose than they do, and they silently mock my attempts to immerse myself in the natural, the transient, the real.

And he thought they just looked nice.