This patchouli oil sparkled in the afternoon sunshine where I set it atop a porch railing with the autumn-leafed trees in the background. The genie-in-a-bottle flask is as special as its contents. It was one of those unique-to-me sort of gifts that only comes by way of someone who knows you as well as you know yourself. In this case, it was my daughter Heather.
Commonly referred to as "hippie perfume" because of its popularity in the 1960s by those who lived an alternative lifestyle, patchouli is a bushy herb of the mint family that thrives in tropical regions. Derived from the plant's dried leaves, the oil has a calming effect to ease tension, soothes dry chapped skin, and its antifungal properties are useful in treating athlete's foot. The pungent, earthy, musty, scent is penetrating, so go with just a little dab if used as a perfume.
In the late 60s and early 70s, I wore two perfumes - Windsong, that could be purchased cheaply at a dime store, and Patchouli Oil. During that time, I worked as a cashier at the Scott Store located in the East Brainerd Mall, which was the first indoor mall to be built in Brainerd. When I was assigned the register closest to the exit to the parking lot (as opposed to the register going out into the mall's hallway), Aggie, an energetic coworker with white hair who I thought at my young age must be in her late 70s but was probably 50 something, ordered and stocked products like sponges, cleansers, measuring cups and bowls, oilcloth, etc. in the household department near my register. Whenever I wore patchouli oil, she was very vocal about trying to uncover where "that musty smell" was coming from. She moved boxes of merchandise waiting to be displayed on store shelves, searched underneath stock that hadn't moved in a long period, cleaned out the shelves in the cabinet where the register sat... trying to find the source of the mustiness to eliminate it. I wasn't brave enough to tell her that it was me. So Aggie. I'm telling you now. It was me. You can stop looking.