Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Everythang Old Is New Again

I ran out of after-shave about a week ago so I swung by the Base Exchange on one of my trips out to Cannon Airplane Patch to re-supply.  Alas, they no longer carry the Burberry line of scents for men and I didn't like the other stuff they had.  So it was off to Amazon, yet again, and I wasn't disappointed.  We ordered a bottle of Burberry's "Weekend" and received it in short order.  In so doing I thought "I should write a post about after-shave..." but then a bell went off in my head to the effect of "I think you've done that before."  And so I have... about five and a half years ago, in October of '06.  Here's that post, updated with illustrations:

Scents

One of the more interesting, nay, fascinating, things about my recent trip to San Antonio was encountering perfumed women once again. I say “once again” because I cannot, for the life of me, remember the last time (or the first time, for that matter) I caught a whiff of a delicately perfumed woman in Portales. It just doesn’t seem to happen. Perhaps I’m just not hanging out at the “right” sort of places in P-Town. But it was a minor joy to have my olfactory senses treated every so often while in San Antonio. I like perfume, and have enjoyed it on the women in my life from a very early age.

It used to be that women had a “signature” scent, a brand they used almost exclusively. I’m not sure that’s true any longer…perhaps it’s an artifact from a by-gone age. Both my Mom and my grandmother had signature scents. My maternal grandmother was an Evening in Paris woman. Her dressing table was littered with those cobalt-blue bottles and containers, each emblazoned with a silver label with the brand name in flowing script. Evening in Paris was all she ever wore, as far as I know. My grandmother walked around trailing a pink could of Evening in Paris. You could walk into a room she’d vacated an hour ago and know she’d been there.  My mother was quite different in that regard.

Mom was a Chanel No 5 woman (which is hideously expensive these days; you know that if you clicked the link)…none of the upstart “new” Chanel fragrances for her, thank you. Just the original. She applied her perfume in a quick, deft manner that was the grand finale to her toilette ritual—otherwise known as “fixing my face”—a dab behind each ear and a dab in the crook of each elbow. She’d place her index finger over the bottle opening, tilt the bottle quickly on end, apply the dab, repeat. Not much at all, when you came down to it. “There are other places, too, but not for you to know,” she once told me, with a grin and a wink. Which, of course, was lost on me until much later in life. My mother’s use of perfume was subtle to the point one wasn’t really sure she was wearing any at all, but you knew she had a very attractive aroma about her. And that’s the way it should be, to my way of thinking.

The Second Mrs. Pennington wore White Ginger when we first met. White Ginger is a very clean, fresh sort of scent and it drove me nuts, in a very good, extremely good, way. Very appropriate for a young woman, and also very erotic. Perhaps it was the fact I was young and in love. Or perhaps White Ginger was the icing on the cake, so to speak. But whatever it was, that scent, on the rare occasion I encounter it these days, immediately transports me back to Former Happy Days. Interestingly, TSMP developed an allergy to perfume later in life and quit wearing it altogether. She also insisted I quit wearing after-shave, too, because it affected her in the same way.

Which brings me to the subject of male scents, or after-shave. My father, he of the Greatest Generation, used exactly two: Old Spice and Mennen Skin Bracer. That was it. I think that approach was wide-spread among men of his cohort. It was unseemly for men to wear “perfume,” and he told me so in no uncertain terms. So…during my adolescence the only scents in my medicine cabinet were his scents—like father, like son. 

That changed when I went into the military. I remember standing in the common latrine one evening, getting ready to splash some Skin Bracer on after shaving, and having a friend ask “Why are you using that cheap (stuff)?” “Here,” he says, “try this,” handing me his bottle of English Leather. I did. And I got a good comment from the Lady Friend that evening, something on the order of “Wow…you smell good!” (or something to that general effect.) I went to the BX the next day and bought some English Leather. Which, in turn, was followed by Jade East, Canoe, British Sterling, and all sorts of scents. I settled on Canoe and wore that until TSMP insisted I abandon all scent products. Now that I’m single again my “signature” scent is Burberry’s (or Burberry’s Weekend, when I can find it)…and will probably remain so.
Just a dab behind each ear and in the crook of the elbows... Heh.  Not really.  But I DON'T bathe in the stuff.

45 comments:

  1. Don't get me started, Buck! :) In my part of the universe, both as a child in central Illinois and at LSU after-shave was big! Natch mennan & acqua velva were starters (my Dad used both) but in college it was branching out time!! During winter, when heaver and/or sweeter scents are tolerable I like Canoe & Royal Copenhagen. (As well as--yes, God forgive me, Brut) Summer months are West Indian Lime time (however Old Spice has a cheaper and equally good, if not fresher, lime scent equivalent) Zazanie and 4711 are two old stand-bys that are pretty good to wear year-round. Drakker noire is not bad--it's "old-line" now, but was a new scent when I first got it for my Father-in-law in early 70s. Most of the newer stuff is too metrosexual "perfumee" for my tastes, so I pretty much stand-pat with the above list. I'm sure there must be some good new stuff out there (the proliferation of has been unbelievable!) but at my age--and as I'm no longer in the rodeo, so to speak--it's not worth the effort to do any recce missions. (PS Neither Old Spice nor English Leather ever turned me on, although both were big in my generation. All-time laughers?--at least in the 60s : "Hai Karate" and "Jade East"--GAAK!!!)

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    1. Ah. I couldn't begin to name all the stuff I've worn, but I had long term relationships with both 4711 and Drakkar. You laughed at Jade East? G'wan...

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  2. PS: Application? I splash on the Lime stuff in summer. For heavier stuff behind the ears and just a dab on the shirt at breast-pocket level was the standard for most of the crowd I hung around with in college. But then, compared to the way college kids dress today we were ALL clothes-horses in my day. Hell, at LSU all the femmes had to wear dresses/skirts to class--no shorts or slacks. Guys had it better, but still lots of cardigans and shirt& ties, v-neck sweaters, etc. Khaki, gray or blue slacks was about as casual as it got. Hell, I didn't even OWN a pair of jeans! It was a god-damn fashion show. (Although I had a dynamite pair of cut-off jeans for summer to go with all my other shorts.)

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    1. I never figgered ya for a Preppie, Virgil.

      Application for me is quite conservative... one spritz usually does it with Weekend. But I useta DOUSE myself in Bay Rum coz it had NO persistence.

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  3. I have a problem with some fragrances. People these days douse on the cologne, mix it with laundry detergent smells, add hair gels and such and the total makes a chemical that is toxic. I rarely puke, but these overpowering perfumes will do the trick. So, when I wear perfume, it is Aliage by Este Lauder. I like their fragrances for men too. Usually just a quick spritz to the chest area is all I do.

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    1. You're right about the combo of scents, Lou. That can be horrible.

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  4. One woman I know (in the Biblical sense) has a "signature scent." It is "Design." For what seemed like eons, it was only available at one specific high-end store. Now, The Walmart sells it...thank God!

    Another woman that I do not know in the Biblical sense (but, my Daddy does) has a "signature scent." From forever since I was a little kid, Daddy would always keep Mom stocked with Shalimar parfum (sp). Yeah...Mom smells like Shalimar. She likes it, Dad likes it, and I do, too.

    Gotta admit that the internet has made it much easier. When Mom's supply runs low, Daddy calls Pam, and she sniffs out the best deal online...gets it shipped straight to him, too. She's a good daughter-in-law...

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    1. I'd prolly know both scents if I ran into 'em, but I named the only scents I know by name. I'm bad like that, always defaulting to "Damn! You smell GOOD!"

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  5. Swinging back by yet again (I just can't quit you, Buck :) ) I'd just add that as for the wimmins the original Estee Lauder and White Shoulders were big "back in the day" for the younger set--God knows what the popular stuff is 45 years later! "Chloe" was/is my wife's favorite--but now being that we are a Geezer/Geezette tandem--what do we know?

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  6. @Bad Blog/

    You're right. There are SO many toxins in the environment that cause allergic reactions these days that people in general are wearing less perfumes, etc. Many hospitals now forbid their Staff--male & female--to wear scents of any kind. Same for many pvt business as well as Govt agencies.

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  7. HA! Virgil called you Bad Blog...

    You gonna take that, Lou????

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    1. Heh. I was there yesterday, too... but I didn't see ya.

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  9. HA! Virgil, I shall step away backards...

    Been there myself a time or two thousand.

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  10. I've been called Bad Blog before, and possibly on Buck's comments. Anyway, I'm guilty of reading xylophone rather than xenophon and sometimes virgin rather than virgil. Blame it on sight reading.

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  11. I love perfume, but I try not to put on an obnoxious amount. I like fragrance on a man, too; I mean the good-smelling kind of fragrance. My favorite men's fragrance, back in our day, Buck, was English Leather. I'm not familiar with men's Burberry; I'll have to give it a sniff the next time I'm near a fragrance counter.

    My signature scent, decades ago, was White Shoulders. Sadly, it's been watered-down and stripped of the layers of flower bouquet that it once possessed. I favor non-mainstream perfumes and I've had a hard time finding a signature scent since White Shoulders. Lately I've been wearing I am Hot perfume by Danica. Google it. I think the scent is me...but the description makes me blush.....

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    1. That name/description should make anyone blush, Red. But names are just names, it's the substance that counts, innit? I see White Shoulders seems pretty popular, too...

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  12. I'm staying out of this name-calling, strong smelling fracas! Even if my Mama would be champing at the bit to put her two cents in!

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  13. Good topic! MY WIFE doesn't wear a scent often, but when she does it is White Linen, by Estee Lauder. I identify that scent as "hers", and every whiff of it brings back wonderful memories of our early days together (when she tended to wear it a bit more often.) For my part, I use Lilac Vegetal, by Clubman, as my after shave, but it is a rather strong scent when applied liberally, so I use it more for the astringent effect than as a scent to travel around in a cloud of, applying it between shave and shower, lounging around for a few minutes to let it work its magic on my pores, then losing 99.5% of it when I clean up. If I wear a cologne at all, it is sometimes Royall Bay Rhum, but more often 4711, and both of those were standard choices for My Dad, too.

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    1. I've never heard of your approach to after shave before, Jim. Both interesting and effective, that.

      As for "early days," BIG-Ass sigh. That's me and White Ginger, but ya don't find that scent all too often. That's prolly a good thing.

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  14. Ah- memories. The Oracle wore British Sterling and Ralph Lauren "Polo". He moved on to Grey Flannel by Geoffrey Beane and Aqua di Gio by Armani. Yes, I loves me a perfumed man!

    For me I'm like most other women: signature in high school was Love's Baby Soft (I know, I know...), then college and early 20s it was White Linen. There were a few years where I didn't wear any - those were the early asthma years in my 30s. Now it's either Issey Miyake "Eau du Issey" or Givenchy "Beautiful".

    Because ... I am. :-)

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    1. You're Issey? ;-)

      And for the uninformed, what's there to know about Love's Baby Soft?

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  15. I go through phases of which cologne I use, and it also depends on the time of day, function, and season.

    Grey Flannel was always a winter only scent for me. Currently I use Polo Black for night/evening out, and Blue for day time. Though not all the time.

    Holister makes nice fragrances, but those tend to be summer type smells, which being from the Left Coast sorta makes sense or scents.

    My wife goes through different phases as to which is her signature scent. It used to be Joy, but even though you only use a tiny bit, it is becoming like liquid gold. Also, with it smelling like roses, she sometimes gets an alergy attack when she uses it. She uses Light Blue right now.

    Sometimes she has a stuffy nose, and she always seems to be the type to apply the fragrance till she can smell it type. Which has left me gasping for air on certain occasions.

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    1. I useta go through phases with cologne, too, Anon. And there was a time when I had two or three different scents in my medicine cabinet, too. These days it's one-size-fits-all for me.

      Speakin' o' "liquid gold," I was shocked at what No. 5 goes for these days... over $400/oz.

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  16. @Kris/

    Yoiks! I'd forgotten that I'd dabbled at various times with both British Sterling and Grey Flannel, while my son is a Polo guy. Come to think of it I think he uses di Grio also!

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    1. As noted elsewhere... I couldn't begin to name all the stuff I've worn.

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  17. PS: Maybe I'm spooked by Lex's passing, but wonder if Buck is OK--he's usually commented by now, plus put up a couple of posts.

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  18. Virgil - please, don't go there. Please. I'm sure Buck is fine; perhaps a more robust happy hour yesterday followed by a nice snooze-in this morning.

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    1. The "nice snooze in" is/was correct. I JUST now got up.

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  19. Okay...so am I the only guy in this thread that doesn't, and never has worn cologne?

    Just curious...

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    1. But "eau de gasoline" DOES qualify.

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    2. Being a Scandinavian, my shaving consists of soaping my face, running a disposable blade across the face, and a good rinse. Yep, my favorite is the smell of whatever soap is on sale. Hmm, wait, maybe that's my problem with not getting a sleepover...

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    3. I don't think I EVER had a sleepover I could attribute to cologne. And "Weekend" ain't workin' too well lately, either. ;-)

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  20. Does "eau de three days in the same underwear, living in the cab of your pickup truck in August, in Alabama" qualify?

    Gotta admit, that was my LEAST FAVORITE fragrance. And, probably everyone downwind, too.

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    1. Dang. "August in Alabama" are three lil words I hope I never have to live.

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  21. Pepi, I'm an Ivory soap guy myself. That's the only soap that real men use.

    Just sayin'...

    And, call me a wuss, but I shave w/electricity.

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    1. Wuss. (I useta have a Norelco buzz-thingie but it was never as good as Gillette.)

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  22. Andy - If you were a real man, you'd use Lava. For what it's worth, I think Chuck Norris uses 20-Mule-Team Borax.

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  23. I can't wear it anymore because of allergies, but back in the day I was aChanel No. 5 gal, too. Along with the occasional Arpege. And Borghese. Remember Jungle Gardenia?

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    1. When I was in Arabia, they bootlegged everything in the old downtown souks of Riyadh, so I bought an empty Chanel No. 5 bottle which they sold with the label removed, so that you have to put one on yourself.

      Then the perfume came in a little vile. So when you went through customs back in the states, all they saw was the empty bottle. I can't remember, but I think it was about a pint size bottle (big). Enough to cause my mom to faint when I gave it to her for her birthday.

      I think it cost less than $10 total, but you have to haggle for an hour in the souks. You have to buy the label in one place, the bottle in another, and finally the secret sauce.

      That's when I learned that perfume was mostly alcohol, and the scent was just a little vial about the size of a teaspoon full. Myself, I just splash a little Veuve Clicquot champagne behind the ears, after a glass for the inner-self, and I'm good to go.

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Just be polite... that's all I ask.