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The Scent Of
A Man

by Stephen Lautens


October 13, 2000

I have no interest in smelling good.

Let me finish - I have no interest in smelling at all.

Sure, I have a shelf filled with bottles of after shave, but I can't remember the last time I slapped any on. They were mostly bought for me as gifts by ex-girlfriends and distant relatives. Some of them date back to high school or that time in a young man's life when he's sure he has a future career as a suave international spy.

In reality, most of them surround you in a green noxious cloud that would choke a horse. And that's the expensive stuff.

Although it's not my habit, I once asked a total stranger what kind of after shave he was wearing. It smelled pretty good, and I tried to make it clear by a series of grunts that I really was only interested in knowing the name of his cologne and not in a meaningful relationship that included settling down with a pair of Jack Russell terriers.

After telling me his secret, I bought a bottle of the stuff and slapped it on. I enjoyed the smell for about as long as it took to get to work. After half an hour in the car I couldn't stand myself any longer and scrubbed off as much as I could in the washroom. Not only that, but like most aftershaves, it made my eyes red and nose run.

Great if the effect you want to have on women is: "Boy, that guy smells good - too bad he has the plague and only a week to live."

So if I have been a dismal failure in my attempt to smell good, I'm also a poor candidate to be won over by a woman's perfume. Not only do they affect me like tear gas affected the troops in World War One, I don't find their smell particularly alluring.

Maybe I'm immune to flowers and such, but I think the perfume manufacturers have really missed the boat when it comes to smells that attract men.

What man can resist the smell of hot roofing tar? Maybe it stirs in us something genetic that goes back millions of years to when we hunted bison (without needing a national spear registry) near the tar sands. Maybe it's just happy memories of a bunch of guys standing on the lawn with a beer in hand watching roofers on a hot sunny day. Make a perfume that smells like roofing tar, and I guarantee men will flock around.

Then there's the smell of hamburgers on the barbeque. Not the lean ground beef my wife buys when she thinks I'm not looking - I mean the stuff with extra fat. When those drippings hit the flames - oh boy. What woman wouldn't want a perfume that literally makes men drool?

You can actually buy "new car smell" in a spray can, but as far as I know, no one has ever tried to wear it as a cologne. Forget Chanel No. 5, if you walk into a bar smelling like the upholstery of a brand new Mustang, you're going to turn heads.

Although if women are looking for men who are more ready to settle down, they may have to try wearing "new minivan smell".

I see that a company is actually selling a perfume that smells like cinnamon buns.

Now you're talking.

© Stephen Lautens 2000

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