Grape candy, specifically Japanese grape candy, is the glue that keeps our friendship together—my fellow blogger/photographer, Tommy Ton, and me. We exchange notes about new bon-bons we've found in Japanese konbini shops, airports, or Asian import stores as if they were fine wines: “I'm enjoying the sour finish of this particular confection. I detect some pinot noir and perhaps a bit of Red 40 and corn syrup,” says Tommy.
' Ick, that was NASTY,” I reply.
On our most recent trip to Tokyo, we stopped by the Sacai store and it hit us at exactly the same time: “Do you smell that? WHERE IS IT COMING FROM?!?,” It was the unmistakable aroma of artificial grape, and we traced it to a fancy glass bottle with some sticks fanning out the mouth. Is this for sale? What is this thing? All I knew was that it had to be mine, no matter the cost or collateral damage.
Well, fuck me, it turned out to be some crazy expensive Italian room diffuser by a Dr. Vranjes of Firenze. I'm sure their publicist would strangle me to hear me compare their “hand-crafted and meticulously researched' Fragranza da Collezione: Rosso Nobile to some chewed-up grape Skittles, but, to me, there's no higher compliment.
I've never had any sort of room scent or even a candle before, aside from the Virgin Mary candles I got from the corner store for hurricane emergencies, but those don't smell like anything besides Faith. Actually, I don't really have much of a relationship at all with Fragrance. In junior high, all the girls were wearing a perfume called Tribe and I would impulsively sniff at their necks in the hallways, at recess, or during 5th period math class, whenever. In high school, I may have shoplifted a bottle of Cool Water because I heard it in Snoop Dogg song. And then I had a bottle of that cologne every guy had in college—the blue and white stripey muscled torso? I occasionally wear a scent now, but it's super embarrassing to admit that it's a ladies perfume, which I guess no one would know except that it's also called “ Portrait of a Lady,” No getting around that one. Sometimes I make up a name when dudes ask what cologne I'm wearing. “Oh! It's um... Portrait of a Gender Neutral Homosapien… By Frédéric Malle. Ask for it at Barneys. It's exclusive, I think.”
But how could I justify spending $100 on a room diffuser, when that could buy me, like, 700 pieces of grape Hi-Chews? I hardly even have any furniture and I'm going to buy a bottle of glorified grape soda and bamboo straws? All my books are piled in the corner. Guests relax on the floor atop dirty pillows. And then, what if I like it too much and dropping $100 every three months becomes the norm for me? Maybe $100 isn't even a lot in the realm of room scents? Oh well…YOLO or whatever. (They didn't actually sell the diffuser at the Sacai store; the salespeople helped me track it down across town. Now I buy refills on eBay.) It's awesome and I love it, and as the bottle empties, my heart sinks to depths proportional to the amount of “essences of fine wines' that remains—kinda like with my favorite bourbon, and this bottle of SK-II face stuff, and the Sriracha in my fridge. Anyway, yeah, this was the love story between a blogger and his grape-candy room diffuser. I hope you enjoyed it.
Photos by Phil Oh.