I met up with my old friend Robert from Washington (DC) who was in town to visit his mother in Naples. Rob is a rather patrician fellow, in a young Noel Coward vein, with a passion for experience. I’m an earthy sensualist with a taste for dawdling and speculation. The ensuing conversations are fun. We met at the yacht club and talked for a couple of hours over a pitcher of beer. We’re both in business and business, we confessed, is not great. Oh well. It was a partly cloudy April day in a tropical setting, with dawdling and speculation to be experienced.
On to coffee at the mall and a browse at Saks. We sat under an umbrella in a courtyard cafe sipping lattes for a while. I took one of Rob’s Camels.
“I like a smoke once in a while,” I said, inhaling, feeling the old catch in my lungs and nicotine buzz.
“That ol’ devil nicotine...”
“It’s in a lot of things, by the way, being a nightshade. Eggplant is loaded.”
“Tobacco is a New World botanical.”
“The Indians smoked it.”
“And it wasn’t much of a problem. Being an old civilization, they'd learned the pleasure of moderation.”
“With us it’s either worship or demonization.”
“Usually both.” I made some tasting sounds. "The smoky aftertaste is a little nasty..."
Rob tapped out some Tic Tacs.
We hit the menswear department at Saks. I enjoy being out and about with Rob. He has an extraordinary knack for drawing deference from people. The sales staff was all over us. Lotta nice stuff for a small store. A cashmere pullover with a nice insert detail on the shoulder caught my eye. It was marked down from five hundred to three. Hmm. Rob got lost in the department while I drifted over to the fragrance counter. “I might have known,” he said, when he caught up with me. I was sniffing some Bond No 9 spritzes on paper cards. "Hamptons", reputed to be a rip-off of Creed's "Silver Mountain Water" smelled, to me, exactly how a Basenotes member once described it: a dirty plastic comb with some residual stale shampoo. Rob detected a note of model airplane glue. "Andy Warhol Success Is A Job In New York," on the other hand, was a sumptuous and intoxicating retro juice: bright florals and some edgy spices over a base of vanilla and woods. We left with a pocketful of Bond No. 9 and other samples that the lovely sales lady laid on us. Rob liked the Bulgari Aqua and its salty ozonic citrus and seaweed. I asked for a couple hits of New Haarlem, whose coffee and burnt sugar and tonka I’ve always enjoyed.
It was getting late. Rob’s mother expected him for dinner. We detoured through Brookstone, gawked at the gadgets, and said goodbye in the parking lot.