Editor’s Note: Throwback Thursday. This post was originally published in 2014 on my old KeyOfGF blog
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 important at the time, it was the perfume of choice for a certain young lady I spent a lot of time with during 9th grade. I was a big Ciara fan then. After that particular relationship fizzled, every now and then I’d catch a whiff of somebody else wearing Ciara, 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. Later in life, I came across some old photos of her as a young, petite woman, and I finally understood. In a small town, once you receive a nickname, it is yours for life.
Teeny was not the typical grandmother. First of all, cooking was not one of her strengths. I still have bad memories of her attempt at cooking a frozen pizza for us. The big family Christmas dinner? She hired in help for that. She must have at least recognized her own limitations.
Second, she could beat me at Donkey Kong. Teeny 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 the now-defunct retailer J. B. White, specifically their store at Dutch Square Mall in Columbia, South Carolina. She lived over an hour’s drive away, but every now and then she’d make the trip to the big city. On one summer visit to my grandparent’s house, we made the trip to White’s, as she called it.
I remember Teeny took one step off the down escalator and stopped. As she tried to decide which direction to go, she caused quite a problem for the people behind as they scrambled to avoid a pileup. She never had a clue.
Anyway, I can only assume J.B. White was where she made the fateful purchase. Teeny wasn’t exactly up on the latest trends unless you counted her beloved white Reebok Princess shoes. Somehow, though, she came across and bought 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 catch a whiff of the scent out in public. I would smile and joke that we were being visited by the ghost of Teeny.
The last time this happened, I was actually in Belk at Dutch Square Mall, which is in the location of the old J. B. White store. There was absolutely 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.
Thanks for reading.