It should probably be a rule that one can use the term “Proustian” only if one has, in fact, read Proust. So permit me to flout the rule I just made. In researching the mid-70s at the Enoch Pratt today, I took a Proustian hit when I flipped through the pages of an old Seventeen magazine and saw . . . an ad for Noxzema.
It’s my hunch that Women of a Certain Age are now nodding their heads and inhaling that heady odor. Sharp, tangy, it just missed being medicinal. It was a serious smell for a serious problem, the teen complexion. I tried many complexion products in my teens — Bonne Bell (ooh — another olfactory hit), Phisoderm, an almond paste made by the oh-so-trendy organic joint in the mall — and I can’t say that Noxzema did anything other than clean one’s face thoroughly, but that smell promised so much.
Can you think of a product from your teens that packs that kind of scent memory?
(An aside: It’s a little shocking to see how much advertising in Seventeen was geared toward preparing for marriage — rings, hope chests, china. And I’m having a hard time excavating the slang of the ’70s, which is important to me; I’ve always had a pet peeve about the ananchronisms used in “That 70s Show.” So far, the only words I’m sure about are “drag” and “bummer.” Suggestions? I’m open to individual words or modes of research. In fact, I think I need to track down “The Girls of Huntington House,” which I remember as a very 70s novel about girls in a home for unwed mothers.)