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I’m not a gambler. Well, maybe I am. I don’t hang out at casinos, but I do bid against strangers on eBay. And I do take risks—that the antiques I fall in love with are really what some person as close as Louisville or as far away as the Netherlands says that they are.

So far, I’ve only been swindled once, when I bid on a vintage purse that arrived with a funky smell. It was supposed to be from a smoke-free home, but it not only reeked of smoke, but also intensely sweet perfume that made me gag and some sort of pungent chemical that the seller clearly had used to try to hide the other odors.

Unfortunately for the seller, I have a nose that should have been used for detective work, winemaking or perfumery. I inherited my keen olfactory sensitivity from my mother and I’m proud of it. Plus, it helped me get my money back for this misrepresented item—the resolution center at eBay took care of that.

I did learn a lesson from that noxious gamble. Buying someone else’s purse is too intimate a purchase to make without smelling it first. It’s a strange thing to own a stranger’s purse, to have daily interaction with her even though she’s not there. Every time you take your lipstick out, you are reminded of what can never really belong to you.