It’s better to have Love’s Baby Soft lost than never had it at all

By Gretchen

“Mom, can you smell this?”

Aidan offered her wrist, not knowing I could smell this before she entered the room. Her milk-white broomstick of a wrist dripped American Girl perfume, sugary and light. The petal pink star-shaped bottle of perfume had been a Christmas present from me, bought in a fit of nostalgia. Our girls-only trip to Chicago’s American Girl Place was a year ago.

Aidan loves anything remotely attached to American Girl. Too bad they don’t make American Girl toilet brushes. She and Samantha, her doll, would volunteer to head up a toilet cleaning drive to aid orphaned ponies.

I told her the perfume smelled lovely, but slightly strong. In the future, she might want to spray a cloud in the air and run her wrists through the mist. She understood and wiped the excess perfume away.

As I climbed the stairs to her bedroom, my nose was paddled by the airborne perfume particles. It vaguely reminded me of my own girlhood perfume of choice: Love’s Baby Soft.

It came in a cylindrical-shaped glass bottle with a white cap. It was pink, of course, and smelled like baby powder/strawberries/roses/unicorn breath. My bottle of Love’s was a Christmas present. When I wore it I felt it launched me from ordinary to ordinary with a glossy pink sheen—a little better, a little older, a little less awkward. Smooth, like the girls who were good at rollerskating. They could glide backward effortlessly, their wheels making a soft clickclick on wood floors. Boys bought nachos for them at the roller rink snack bar. They kept Goody combs in the back pockets of their jeans and tubes of Bonne Bell lipgloss in the front pockets.

Esteem encased, my bottle of Love’s went with me everywhere until it was stolen. I was in eighth grade, visiting a rival junior high as a participant in our school district’s orchestra ensemble. All the girls were in the bathroom changing into dresses. I left my bag, with my Love’s inside, for just a moment. When I returned, my Love’s was gone. I looked all over, asked if anyone had seen it. Nobody had, of course. I knew it was gone.

Some other girl had it tucked in her bag. She took it home with her, put it on her dresser or hid it under her bed so her mom wouldn’t ask where she got it.

I was Loveless. My mom declined to buy a replacement bottle for me. Instead, I borrowed her Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps, or her Youth Dew. Later, in high school, I wore Exclamation! perfume, Opium, Poison, CoCo—scents that promised danger and intrigue with every drop.

I’d slink around my bedroom like a 1920’s vamp and dream of having jetblack straight bobbed hair and Cleopatra eyes, behind which a brain like Dorothy Parker’s flashed a few slick lines to drop at perfect moments. Light bouncing off my braces in the mirror or my mom’s call to dinner would snap me back into reality.

As a freshman at CU, I found a way to battle homesickness. I bought a bottle of L’Air du Temps. Every time I used it I thought about my mom and it comforted me.

It’s ironic how I went from wanting to smell like silent-screen goddess Louise Brooks to my mom in a few short years.

I am currently reading A Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman. She quotes Kipling:

Smells are surer than sights and sounds to make your heart-strings crack.

If I were to come across a bottle of Love’s Baby Soft again, I know I’d have to pop off the cap and spray my wrists.

I’d drench them until they were pink.

Originally published at Lifenut.

38 Responses to It’s better to have Love’s Baby Soft lost than never had it at all
  1. Stephanie
    March 22, 2009 | 8:08 am

    I had Baby Soft, too. And a brief time with Exclamation but I don’t think I could bear to smell a whiff of that one again (EVERYONE wore that). But one of my favorites was when vanilla was really popular and I wore “Fire and Ice”. Patchouli reminds me of my later high school/early college days and Clinique’s Happy carried me the longest until recently I fell in love with the super expensive Chloe, a tiny sample bottle getting me by for now.

    I love this post.


  2. Velma
    March 22, 2009 | 8:16 am

    So many memories! We must be the same age, because we sure had the same middle school experience. Right down to the Goody combs! For me, it wasn’t the Love’s Baby Soft but the L’Air du Temps my glamorous NYC uncle sent me for my birthday. I rarely wore it, but the beautiful bottle sat in my room, promising a sophisticated grown-up life someday.

  3. Valerie
    March 22, 2009 | 8:29 am

    Loved this post!!

  4. Lifenut » Scent of a housewife
    March 22, 2009 | 9:35 am

    […] I have a post up over at 5 Minutes for Parenting. […]

  5. Heather of the EO
    March 22, 2009 | 9:35 am

    I can’t walk past a man with Polo on without feeling like I’m eighteen and looking for my high school boyfriend 🙂

    Such a great post!

    (Just so you know, the Lifenut link doesn’t work, it comes back here)

  6. Heather of the EO
    March 22, 2009 | 9:36 am

    Oh sorry, I think that’s maybe why that comment is there…didn’t see that before I left mine.

  7. Stephanie
    March 22, 2009 | 10:01 am

    PS Old Spice= my Dad, Polo reminds me of my cousin and Drakkar Noir was worn by all the soccer boys in highschool.


  8. edj
    March 22, 2009 | 10:01 am

    Ha! I remember Love’s Baby Soft very well. It smelled of baby powder and pink. I remember that bottle, I remember how grown-up I felt. And now your daughter (same age as mine) is wearing the new version. Things change; things stay the same. Mine is devouring “Emily of New Moon” this weekend, one of my childhood favs, and begging me to tell her what happened to Ilse’s mother!

  9. amyd76
    March 22, 2009 | 10:59 am

    I got my daughter a bottle of Love’s Baby Soft for Christmas. Can you believe they still make it?? And it smells exactly the same…same bottle…etc..Oh the memories!
    In my younger (5th and 6th grade, I think) years I wore Love’s and Debbie Gibson’s Electric Youth (cool bottle). I then graduated to United Colors of Benetton and Ciara.
    Young adult years were mostly Bath and Body Works lotion/spray scents and Beautiful.
    I’ve worn Lancome’s Hypnose for several years now, and I don’t plan on changing any time soon. (unless I get a whiff of something better) Great post! Thanks!

  10. Anonymouse
    March 22, 2009 | 6:01 pm

    I’m not going to tell you that you can order Love’s Baby Soft online.

    I will tell you that I was also a fan of Exclamation! and that Samantha was always my favorite American Girl. I even had her sailor dress (and whistle!). My mom has them tucked away somewhere for my daughter – who will never want to wear them.


  11. Kelly
    March 23, 2009 | 10:31 am

    I’m another Love’s Baby Soft wearer. You described it perfectly. It was my first perfume, quickly replaced in the mid-teen years by “dangerous” musks and heady scents.

    But today, the one I look back on most fondly — and the one I’ll be buying my daughter for her birthday this summer — is Love’s Baby Soft.

  12. Sarah at themommylogues
    March 23, 2009 | 12:49 pm

    I can’t imagine you have to explain Baby Soft. Didn’t we all wear it? And then Exclamation! after that?

    Once I started my “I’m not like everybody else” phase I skipped perfumes and headed for the oils. Nothing says angst like patchouli.

  13. Shayne
    March 23, 2009 | 2:18 pm

    Sigh. I have many similar fond memories of Love’s Baby Soft. Isn’t it amazing how the smell of something can evoke such strong memories? I remember in one of my psych classes in college, my professor blindfolded me and held a series of things up to my nose to see if I could identify them. I think I got them all right, but the one I remember most was Play-Doh. It’s unmistakable!

  14. Beth - Total Mom Haircut
    March 23, 2009 | 4:28 pm

    I had some Love’s too. I probably would have cried if ti had been stolen. After that stage I believe I moved on to Liz Claiborne in the yellow triangle shaped bottle, which made me feel oh so very fashionable.

  15. Minnesotamom
    March 23, 2009 | 4:28 pm

    My olfactory memory is much stronger than my sight or sound. One whiff of something–anything!–can open the flood gates.

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