I was hungover the first time I smelled a celebrity. I was flipping through 45s at my favorite record store in Nashville when the owner—Jack White—walked through the shop. My heart performed a series of horrifying gymnastics. My hands shook. I could feel my jaw go slack, laden with potential words to be garbled in an attempt to make friends with one of my favorite musicians.
Then, at the last moment, I realized that I wasn’t going to say anything at all. Maybe I could have captured a selfie, gotten a handshake, or even a passing thumbs up, but in my hungover delirium I decided to just let Jack White be. He walked right past me, out the front door, and out of my life forever — but I’ll never forget the smell of burnt leather and black licorice that tumbled off him, like the ghostly aura of some effortlessly cool wraith.