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"I had my cards read: The One really exists and he's going to change my life. The only problem is that he probably lives in Barcelona."
We sit on two patina folding chairs in front of the only dressing room in Quirin's store amid mountains of freshly unpacked men's clothing, drinking coffee to go from paper cups. I flush down my comment about certain cutthroats' fraudulent dealings with people's hopes with a big gulp and say instead, "I would so begrudge you."
Quirin has been dreaming of great love ever since I've known him. And that's been a few years now. He runs a boutique for extravagant menswear despite being a doctor of biology, because even greater than his love of amino acids is his talent for seeing beauty in absolutely everyone. And he wants to showcase that.
Quirin's style always hits the sweet spot of maximum wow and just not the startled oh god, he lives it with casual elegance, and so is his whole shop: In the middle of the dignified Linzer Gasse, it's my haven on the way to or from work; among the other shops, it stands out like a pink firefly among noisy potato bugs. When Quirin is inspired - and he often is - he decorates his shop window: sometimes daring, always an eye-catcher and never, absolutely never does he fail to include a bottle of Terre d`Hermès in his concept. And he doesn't sell the fragrance at all. He just loves it.
"Maybe I can tell he's wearing Terre d'Hermès," Quirin muses over his coffee mug, and I think to myself that no one at all smells as good as he does. Quirin always smells like Terre and the whole shop with it. You can tell the time of day by the scent: in the morning, when the boutique opens, there's a delicate veil of grapefruit in the air, more fresh than bitter, cheerful and somehow exuberant. It is joined by a dark, full orange, rich and powerful like a sunrise over the sea. The fruity impression is captured by pepper notes, aromatic, almost floral, not spicy, and before the whole thing gets too fruity, the warm scent of cedarwood, with the sun shining on it, brings it back down to earth. Vetiver provides a counterpoint, perhaps, no, certainly it is supported by a tiny touch of patchouli, tart, earthy, dark and deep. The fragrance oscillates in this tension: light and dark, light and strong, head in the clouds and feet firmly on a warm, fragrant earth. It is a fragrance like Quirin and his shop.
People like to come to him: men who are tired of the same old jeans with the same old hoodie are enthusiastically helped by him to find their fashionable selves. When he has made one in particular shine, he sometimes coyly offers him a few spritzes of Terre d'Hermès to round off the overall impression and waits to see if the prophecy comes true.
It's not just this kind of people who visit his shop. At one point, we're just sitting back in our folding chairs, a lady in a loden suit comes in the door, looks at him and says, "You're a disgrace." Then she turns on her heel and walks out the door. We look after her and struggle for words. Then we laugh away our anger.
Another time, I drop by his house after work and find him crying while sorting some men's shirts. It's because mum is so unwell, he says. It has nothing to do with the teenagers who were just in his store. They threw the pile of shirts off the rack as they walked by, saying "fag stuff." "That's kid stuff," Quirin says, blowing his nostrils. "They've yet to grow up."
Then I go on vacation and when I come back the store is no more. It's just gone. I don't know what happened, only that it never occurred to me to ask him for his cell number. Why would you? He was always there. On the good days, I want to believe he traveled to Barcelona and found love there. On the not-so-good ones, I hope it wasn't the ladies in loden coats and prepotent adolescents of this earth who vanquished him.
What I do know is that Quirin loves fragrances and especially Terre d'Hermès. So if you're reading this, Quirin, I just want you to know that I hope you're lying on a beach in Barcelona with the sun shining on your face. I hope it's next to you and it's everything you've ever dreamed of. And I hope it smells like Terre d'Hermès.