Tag Archives: Sensual Amber

My True Love Gave to Me

What does it say about my husband and me that we unknowingly exchanged Moby Dick themed Christmas gifts this year?

That we’re in this boat together?

Pequod Gift Wrapping

That he likes his woman to smell like a rotting whale?

Christmas Amber

That he’s my Queequeg and I’m his Ishmael?

Moby Dick Ornament

Or just that we’re kind of dorky?


Posted by on January 6, 2013 in Moby-Dick


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Something Smells Fishy (with a horizontal tail)

One night while taking in a little before-bed Moby-Dick, my beloved husband got up, wandered into our bathroom, and came out reading the ingredients on a bottle of my body wash.

That’s it, I thought, Melville bored him to the point that he’d begun reading lists of unpronounceable cleansing agents.  Man overboard.

“Nope,”  he said, momentaritly stopping me from throwing out the life-preserver, “just as I thought.  It only says ‘fragrance.'”

I quickly forgot the life-preserver and decided to send in Queequeg, because my spouse seemed deeply embedded in a whale’s head, or worse yet – Herman’s, and our friendly cannibal was the only one with the midwifery skill-set necessary to deliver this drowning soul.

I suppose I shouldn’t have worried about his sanity so soon.  It’s not like he nailed a 50-cent piece to the wall, gathered the boys, and told them that the first one to spot the original white color of our living room carpet would be a half a dollar richer.

That was me.

No, with his discovery of Chapter 92, Jerry was just getting to the bottom of a mystery that had boggled me ever since I discovered Bath and Body Works’ “Sensual Amber.”  Those smooth beautiful deep yellow-orange gems on the front caught my eye, and the scent, described as “pink lotus petals enveloped in golden amber” made me sigh deeply every time I caught a whiff.

But my logical side always wondered, does fossilized resin really smell?  It seemed pretty unlikely, but who am I to argue with successful commercialization?

Little did I know, the amber in my shower gel was not a olfactory throw-back to Jurassic Park, no, the perfume’s inspiration is ambergris – the flammable, waxy substance harvested from the intestines of dead whales.  I’ll let you breathe that in deeply for a second.

Scientists theorize that sperm whales make ambergris to help them pass hard, sharp objects they might have eaten.  I’m guessing it would take a boat-load of ambergris to help Moby-Dick pass the masthead of the Pequod.

We’ll never know, but Melville does tells us how Stubb diddled a novice French whaling captain out of his stinky, dried up, roadkill of a whale so that he could himself harvest the “handfuls of something that looked like ripe Windsor soap, or rich mottled old cheese,” that “you might easily dent . . . with your thumb;” and  “is of a hue between yellow and ash color.”  Appealing.

Granted, my body wash contains no more whale guts than it does shiny, fossil-holding rocks, so I suppose I can’t begrudge BBW their little marketing fib.  I doubt a rotting whale would sell much soap.


Posted by on April 23, 2012 in Moby-Dick


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