Her name -- I kid you not -- was Bitsy. She had the posture of a dancer, a Mona Lisa smile, and the sort of humorless dignity that killed social banter like an unpredicted frost. For a girl no bigger than a minute, she could take down an entire homecoming fête with one disapproving glance. You could tell she'd make a terrific schoolteacher-- but the life of a party? Never.
It's not that Bitsy wasn't pretty. Nor did she fail at what the women's weeklies called "dress sense". She knew as well as anyone that her future as a wife, mother, and hostess depended upon how well she navigated an Olympian round of luncheons, charity functions, tea dances, and cotillions, all the while looking like a fashion plate straight out of Mlle. For formal occasions, a dreamy, full-skirted ballerina gown was de rigueur-- worn, of course, over the requisite multi-tiered crinoline petticoat. For many, the thought of a deflated dress provoked a chill of horror. A girl might as well appear in public wearing a burlap gunny sack!
These were the thoughts that raced through Bitsy's mind when she realized she'd left her crinoline at her friend Evelyn's house clear across town. The Fall Mixer was just hours away; with no car at her disposal, what else could she do but panic? It took a flurry of telephone calls and tears to secure Evelyn's solemn promise that the all-important garment would be in her hands by suppertime. "Cross my heart and hope to die," Evelyn had said-- but now, as blue dusk crept across the sorority house lawn, Bitsy paced and wrung her hands. For the sake of a pile of tulle weighing less than a feather, her boat was about to sink.
She idly picked up the fluted bottle of Miss Dior from the dresser top and sprayed her wrists and neck. It usually reassured her, cooled her nerves, but now it made her even more conscious that everything was ruined. Three spritzes! As usual, she'd overdone it. Now she'd have to take another bath, but when? Evelyn (oh, why, why always so late?) might be here any minute. She'd enter laughing, poking scornful fun at Bitsy's inability to Just Relax -- and she'd be right. People think me dry, off-putting; they can't guess how badly I want to do everything right--
A car door slammed. The sound of footsteps on the front walk! Slipping out onto the front porch (she never hurried, even when inwardly frantic), Bitsy raised her eyes in expectation of a contrite Evelyn. Instead, she beheld Apollo. Tall, broad-shouldered, handsome, almost ludicrously self-confident, Evelyn's older brother (alumna; Class of '54) loped towards her with a clothes hanger casually swinging from one hand. Pinned to the hanger was Bitsy's crinoline, its layers of snow-white netting billowing like a knight-errant's banner.
What ought to have scandalized its recipient (My petticoat! In PUBLIC!) only served to heighten Bitsy's sense of unreality. Breath pent, she stood very, very still; quite without knowing it, she'd already begun to cast a spell.
At the sight of this tiny, intense little lady looking down at him so sternly, the golden god stopped short at the foot of the steps and blushed geranium red. She merely remained silent; he was the one left speechless. As she reached her hand out for the clothes hanger, the scent of her perfume -- dry, austere, utterly sophisticated -- reached him, and he found himself staring at the tender underside of her wrist, her small-yet-square hand with its nails bitten down to the quick.
Before he could think straight, his hand was in hers.
"I'm-- I'm--" he stammered, swallowed.
She raised one severe eyebrow.
Scent Elements: Aldehydes, bergamot, gardenia, carnation, iris, jasmine, neroli, lily-of-the-valley, rose, narcissus, clary sage, galbanum, patchouli, oakmoss, vetiver, labdanum, leather, sandalwood, amber