Finding a new (alternate) fragrance


I keep a bottle of cologne in the office, for emergencies. I had an emergency the other day: I had a doctor’s appointment (my doctor’s office is right across the street from my office), and I forgot to put on cologne that morning.



I don’t want to offend my doctor, do I?



My emergency cologne is L’Occitane’s “Eau des Vanilliers,” which is a not-very-good follow-up to their original “Vanille.” “Vanille” smelled like natural vanilla extract, and brought back memories of Christmas baking sessions. “Eau des Vanilliers” is harsher, and smells (to me) like vanilla mixed with butane.



But I am shocked at how much people like it.



“You smell good,” Apollonia said that day. “Better than usual, anyway.”



Toby sniffed at it and smiled. “It’s very ladylike,” he said.



I’ve written before about smelling like food. It is a surefire way to make friends; people love you if you smell like anything edible. (Creepy, isn’t it?) And I don’t mind smelling ladylike. I remember a study some years ago in which men were asked what scents they preferred, and they all said things like musk and cedar, but when they were actually asked to evaluate scents, they preferred the same floral scents that women preferred.


So there.



My preferred scent is “L’Occitan,” by L’Occitane. (Yes, I know.) It is lavender, with cedar, and burnt wood, and nutmeg, and black pepper. It is dark and interesting.



But you can’t wear the same thing every day.



I went to the fragrance kiosk in the Providence Place Mall a few weeks ago, and I asked the stupidest possible question: “What do you recommend?”



Naturally the salesman brought out lots of mid-price and high-price stuff. Some were okay. One had – I kid you not – no smell at all; I tried it twice and couldn’t detect anything. (Maybe my nose is configured incorrectly.) Finally I settled on a high-end Paco Rabanne scent, in a perfectly lovely bottle, with notes of grapefruit and rose and blood orange. (I didn’t get these from the salesman; I looked them up in later.)



It is a nice change from my other scent, and makes a pleasant alternative.



Then I discover from Tab (my coworker) and Al (my student assistant) that they don’t even wear something every day!



See, I assume that I stink, and that I need assistance in this area.



I will continue to assume this, until I am sure that it’s not true.



So if you smell pepper / nutmeg / burnt wood, or blood oranges /grapefruit / rose,  in your vicinity anytime soon, you can be reasonable sure that it’s me.


Personal fragrances; or, How to become popular by smelling like a muffin


Partner and I both cultivate a palette of personal fragrances.  He has a variety of favorites: there’s a Halston fragrance he likes, and a L’Occitane, and sometimes he branches out (I found a bottle of Sean John’s “Unforgivable” on his shelf the other day, and was very impressed that he’s branching out into hip-hop).



I am faithful to my favorite L’Occitane fragrance, called simply “L’Occitan”; supposedly it has notes of black pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, and burnt wood, all twined around a musky base.  I like to think it makes me smell mysterious.  On ho-hum days I get by with a spritz of L’Occitane’s Ambre, and I keep their Eau des Vanilliers in the office for emergencies, although I wonder uneasily if if makes me smell a little too much like cream soda.



You’ll notice a lot of edibles on the above list: pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla.  I always noticed that, whenever I wear something that smells edible, I get a lot of attention.  (One day, when I was wearing bay rum, a person sitting next to me in a meeting leaned close to my ear and whispered, “You smell just like a muffin!”  I chose to take it as a compliment.)



I get most of my New and Trendy Information from my work friend Tab, who is considerably younger than me; I believe he actually graduated from college after the turn of the millennium.   We were hashing over the subject of fragrances, and he brushed aside my old-lady obsession with fancy scents.  “There are really only two fragrances in the gay community today,” he told me authoritatively.  “Older men -“



“Like you?” I said innocently.



“Well, yes,” he snarled.  “Anyway, we wear Drakkar Noir.” 



“And the younger men?”



“Ah,” he smiled.  “’Fierce,’ by Abercrombie and Fitch.”  He smiled dreamily.  “Whenever I smell it, it puts me on alert.  I know there’s something interesting in the vicinity.”



So, kids, you know your choices.  You can smell like burnt wood and vanilla orchids, like me; you can smell like a hip-hop megastar, like Partner; or you can smell young and cute.



Or you can smell like a muffin. 



Which – trust me – will make you popular with a lot of people.


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