Ooooh that smell
Can’t you smell that smell…
-“That Smell”, Lynyrd Skynyrd
Back in the early ’80s, there was a perfume called Ciara. I remember it well for a couple of reasons. First, and most importantly at the time, it was the perfume of choice for a certain young lady I spent a lot of time with in the 9th grade. I was a big Ciara fan then. Even after that particular relationship fizzled, I’d occasionally catch a whif of somebody else with that perfume, and I’d be reminded of her. That was mostly good.
The second reason was my grandmother. Katherine was her name, but everyone called her Teeny. This nickname was perplexing to me as a child. See, by the time I knew my grandmother, Teeny wasn’t exactly a good way to describe her. I eventually came across some old photos of her as a young women, and I finally understood how she got the name. In a small town, though, once you get a nickname, it is yours for life.
Teeny was not really the typical grandmother. First of all, she couldn’t really cook. I still have bad memories of her attempt at cooking a frozen pizza for us. The big family Christmas dinner? She hired in that help. She must have at least recognized her own limitations.
Second, she could beat me at Donkey Kong. She and my grandfather operated a small grocery store and at one point placed some video game machines in the store. She’d camp out on Donkey Kong for hours. It was easy and inexpensive to practice when you had the key to the coin compartment.
Teeny’s favorite place to shop was J. B. White at Dutch Square Mall in Columbia, SC. She lived over an hour’s drive away, but every now and then she’d make the trip to the big city. On one visit with her, we made the trip to the mall. I remember she took one step off the escalator and stopped. As she tried to decide which direction to go, she caused quite a problem for the people behind her. She never had a clue.
Anyway, I can only assume J.B. White was where she made that fateful purchase. Teeny wasn’t exactly up on the latest trends, unless you counted her beloved white Reebok Princess shoes. Eventually, though, she somehow came across and purchased a bottle of Ciara. Once my grandmother started dousing herself with the scent, my memory of Ciara was, unfortunately, changed forever.
Years later, after my grandmother and Ciara’s popularity had both died, I would still occasionally catch a whif of the scent out in public. I would joke that we were being visited by the ghost of Teeny.
I think the last time it happened, I was actually in Belk at Dutch Square Mall, which is in the the site of the old J.B. White store. There was no one around, so it had to be Teeny. If I had thought to check, I bet they were having a closeout sale on Reebok Princess shoes.