The drudgery of school was broken last week in the form of a four-day-long national holiday. We were travelling; I am, in fact, writing this column from the McDonald's at Dubai International Airport, having just escaped a nearby store where a staff member tried to cajole me into buying an expensive perfume.
I don't know what it is with teenage girls and perfumes. There is something about a little crystal vial that conjures up images of romantic Valentine's Day gifts and first dates. It's always a crushing disappointment when you find that, in spite of the dreamy advertisements promising to keep you young forever and transform you into a Greek goddess, most of the stronger scents simply induce headaches.
We all know the person who believes it necessary to bathe in litres of perfume so her lavender-scented cloud precedes her long before she enters the room. This, at least, gives everyone else ample warning to perform a hasty vanishing act.
Most teenage boys, judging by their heavily fragrant auras, seem to be convinced that a liberal lashing of Axe deodorant is a sufficient substitute for a shower with soap and water.
Nevertheless, I can't walk past a store that displays hundreds of exotic, sparkling bottles without succumbing to a quick test spray on my wrist. It is great fun floating around in brand names such as Prada and Burberry pretending that you can actually afford them with your pocket money. Everyone else looks on with a snooty approval that Dubai residents are so accomplished at, silently letting you pull off high-end products as if you've been dabbing on Hermès lotions since you were a babe in nappies.
The only drawback, of course, is that as soon as you tentatively sniff a store sample, 20 eager salespeople congregate around you. I've never figured out why they feel the need to immediately take the bottle away from you and then spray it on your wrist as if they don't trust you to do it properly yourself. Or perhaps they just have a sixth sense for a customer's propensity to drop things and can foretell a potential aromatic disaster. The only choice you have then is to softly murmur, "Oh, I think Gucci Premiere has a dissonant note that's a touch too musky" or "I'm not convinced Manifesto by Yves Saint Laurent captures the subtle, brooding side of my personality quite as elegantly as I'd hoped", and run away at 50 miles an hour.
I wouldn't mind finding the perfect fragrance for myself, though. It may come in handy to drop hints about what's on my wish list before birthdays. Cursorily stealing whiffs of Guerlain's Little Black Dress (too heavy) and DKNY's Be Delicious (too like the fruit and veg stalls at Spinneys), I was suddenly struck by the most tantalising, awe-inspiring scent that spoke straight to my heart: across the way, shining strong and bright, were the Golden Arches. A sumptuous portion of McDonald's fries, I do believe, captures the subtle side of my personality perfectly.
The writer is a 17-year-old student in Dubai