When a ghost wears Azzaro Chrome
The smell of Azzaro Chrome will forever haunt me. It sounds so cliché, I know, but this is now my reality. I find it to be a simple citrus scent. There is nothing particularly profound or earth shattering about this scent. However, so long as I can associate it with a ghost Chrome will haunt me.
I was young and had not considered a “Plan B,” as far as careers go. I thought I had my future mapped out. There is no preparation for when a dream career is ill-fitted and unfulfilling. I was miserable as I sat brooding in my bedroom for several months, grabbing any available temp work and watching my bills pile up. I had to do something and the holidays were fast approaching, so I took a holiday job at a department store's cosmetics counter. The first month brought humiliation and frustration; I was a little older and more mature than most of my managers, I thought my co-workers were practically children, and the pay was meager. I thought I’d hit my rock bottom.
While I wasted time in the purgatory known as retail I formed a few deep and lasting friendships. One particular friendship was made with the store’s resident strongman, Martin. I misread him as a kindly nerd, slightly portly, jolly, and unassuming. I dismissed him until one night after work, when a group of us met up for a friend’s birthday. He was charming and flirtatious. I continued to dismiss him for a bit. A few months later Martin and I would find ourselves stood up by our respective dates. We met up for a quick bite and a night of talking, which changed my perspective of him. I learned he was deeply insightful, quick witted, charming and quietly attractive. We had a lot of common interests, which was not immediately apparent.
Over the course of two years we were practically inseparable. Strangely, we never made a romantic commitment to one another. We were both very shy and fearful of jinxing what we had. It would eventually end, with both of us finding different partners who wanted definitive relationships. He heard my professed ‘I love you’ through a mutual friend; I never heard his ‘I love you’. Things grew awkward when it seemed my love for him was unrequited and we lost touch. He transferred to another store to become a manager and I gleefully left the retail world behind.
I let eight years go by before I spoke to him again. A mutual friend told me his health had taken a downward turn. I reached out and apologized for having been such a psychological and emotional pain in his ass. He assured me the sentiment went both ways. We laughed as we had in the past and I promised him I’d visit him if he’d permit me. I had so much to tell him, things I felt were better spoken face to face. He passed away before I could see him, hold him, apologize to him in person, tell him personally that I loved him, and so much more.
I went to Martin's funeral recently. I attempted to give my condolences to his mother but the words were impossible to speak. She assured me he died happily knowing we’d found our way back to each other and that he'd always loved me. His casket was open but I could not bear to go near it. I wanted to hold on to my memories of him, vibrant and alive. One memory I hold close to my heart is the night he and I went to a party. We spent the night laughing and dancing. We held each other close, so close his Chrome lingered on my party dress. When Martin and I no longer spoke Chrome brought a lump to my throat and a tear to my eye. Chrome will continue to provoke this response in me, more so than before. But I suppose I can smile a bit now when I get a whiff of Chrome, knowing he loved me, too.