How To Smell Like A Head Shop Without Eliciting Suspicion

The perfume that made me love smelling like everyone's favorite incense (or a walking misdemeanor).
Publish date:
June 27, 2013
fragrances, perfumes, patchouli, hippies, incense

My freshman year of college, I vowed never to cut my hair short again. My sophomore year, I had frequented face-painting gatherings and received a customized hula hoop I’ve used about a dozen times. Naturally, by the end of my junior year, I’d given up on bras entirely, routinely going barefoot to class in spring, babbling about Burning Man and communes out west, using phrases like “good vibes” and “harshing my mellow” in every day conversation.

I began dreading--and then regretting--listening to jam bands and white reggae artists and for a while, strongly contemplated ditching New York for Boulder, Colorado, and opening up a bakery which sold edibles to unsuspecting customers. Liberal’s revenge.

Perhaps it’s the afterglow still burning bright from my Bonnaroo mindset, but as of last night, I’ve been left trying to decipher whether I’ve reached an astoundingly new high or a devastatingly new low with my most recent purchase: a purple bumper sticker that reads “Arms Are for Hugging” off of a website urging me to be planetarily conscious.

This is why my signature scent smells like I just emerged from a 10-person pileup on the last day of Woodstock.

See, I like to take my favorite things and make them mine. If there’s a scent I love, I want to wear it, not just acknowledge its presence. Which takes me to Wind Spirit.

Now before I go any further, everyone knows exactly what I’m referring to. You know, that completely out-of-place Native American store on the first floor in the far right corner of the mall, right by the As Seen On TV kiosk and the Auntie Anne’s stand. The one a few stores away from Hot Topic and the sketchy reflexology spa. The store that knows business only from curious wanderers who strayed from the pack somewhere around Game Stop.

Anyway, this store is where it’s at. Among their extensive stock of wolf tees, turquoise jewelry, hand-knit pocket books and dreamcatchers lies their best kept secret: Nag Champa perfume. I know, I know, it’s almost too good to be true.

After standing in awe for a solid 15 minutes, I picked my jaw up off the floor and, for $5, purchased roll-on Wild Rose Nag Champa perfume oil.

Granted, I’m no rookie to the world of roll on perfumes. My mom had undergone the same quirky spiritual journey when she was my age and discovered Egyptian musk and the Grateful Dead. Thankfully, she stuck with the musk.

If Nag Champa sounds familiar to you, it should. It’s everyone’s go-to incense sticks exported straight from Bengaluru, India. They come in blue and red packaging and are sold at your local head shop for (also) $5. And the amount of times I’ve considered rubbing them all over my body just to achieve a long-lasting scent is wedged somewhere between humiliating and hilarious. So finding this perfume was more of a godsend and less of a steal.

I’m not one to make mountains out of molehills, but the first time I was inadvertently complimented on my scent, I milked it big time. I was losing horrifically in a game of beerpong and desperately needed redemption when out of the woodwork came the first of many comments regarding my scent.

“It smells like Daze out here!” remarked some kid with a kid whose name escapes me. Daze, my personal-favorite head shop, was not where the scent had come from, but rather my wrists as I overshot another pingpong ball past the red solo cups.

“It’s me!” I shouted. And so began my kind of weird and yet really awesome streak of accidentally receiving compliments.

The greatest part of it all is that it hasn’t lost its authenticity yet, not even a little. Adults have approached me, telling me I smell like the good old days, peers have mentioned that I smell like their dorms, and professors have given me winks, which now that I think of it, may not actually have anything to do with my scent. Either way, I love it. All of it.

So on my first day as an xoVain intern, I was absolutely enamored with the indirect compliments as they burst one after the next, like dominoes… or the wave. I was sitting at my desk when a staff member walked past and stated, “Something smells like hippies.”

The wave had begun.

“Smells like patchouli!”

“My incense smells like that!”

“I knew something smelled different!”

Ladies, ladies, settle down--it’s just me.

I had pulled my smelly sidekick from out of my tote bag and placed it under Marci’s nostrils.

“You have to write an article about this,” she noted.

When I sat back down at my desk with a smirk so wide it looked like I’d gotten a promotion, I jotted down and idea or two for this piece and glanced over at the time. I had written the sentence, “How to smell like a stoner without the suspicion,” at 4:20 pm on the dot.

I’ve slowly but surely transformed into a walking cliché, and I’ve got to say, I’m feeling it. So maybe I’m a new-age hippie with an old soul, or a bohemian flowerchild who blossomed in the wrong generation, but then again, I’m not really one for labels. As far as stereotypes go, I got off lucky. A free-spirited people promoting peace, love and happiness as their mantra? Sign me up.

As Ghandi once said, be the change you wish to see in the world, or smell like it.