Tuesday, April 13, 2010

You smell delicious

One misty morning in a German train station, I passed an impeccably dressed man. In his perfectly tailored suit, he not only looked fantastic, but he carried himself like a man who knew his role in the world. I did a made-for-movies double-take and turn. 

Later, he made his way into the same train car and his perfect English made the conversation easy. I was on vacation and had a rudimentary grasp of the German language. And while tempted, I certainly was incapable of translating you smell delicious. Before departing, I wanted to ask him what he was wearing. But I didn't and our routes took us in different directions.

As a child, I was exposed to the gorgeous scents and beautiful bottles of perfume. From my Mom I learned the power of scent and often, when she would leave, I would tip toe into her room and spray some of her perfume on my wrists. I would spend the rest of the day feeling glamorous and grown up. 

However, it is also during this time I learned you do not sample and spray from every bottle on the dressing table at one time if you want to spend the rest of the day with yourself. And should you make this faux pas, you should have a response prepared when your Mom smells you and asks if you have been playing with her perfume. A proper response: I wanted to come up with a signature scent so I layered several together. A poor response: Your perfume? NO.  Right. First, she is far more clever. And secondly, there is no other means to create that smell unless I just took a plunge into a whorehouse. Even the most heavenly perfumes do not smell great mixed together. 

But my love of perfume bloomed. And it is a beauty staple I don’t go without even for a day. I tie perfume to memories, impressions, places. My first favorites were my Mom’s. Especially the bottle of Roma I bought her in Italy. My first real bottle was Christian Dior’s Dolce Vita, a scent I still love though cannot easily find. 

And then Issey Miyake, Gucci Rush, Gucci Envy, Lolita Lempicka, Herve Leger. And to my collection I have added Mme Chanel, Badgley Mischka, Romero Britto, and my new favorites from Jo Malone. I feel about perfume the way some women feel about shoes. (Ok, I feel pretty strongly about shoes as well.)

And I feel the same way about cologne. And everytime JohnnyMac wears it (albeit not every day) I appreciate that the scent of something can remind you of a starry night, or an interlude, a wedding in spring, or your last tango in Paris. And for me, perfume or cologne is one of the few things that can rouse memories and emotions ranging from new and sweet to sultry sex. 

When I was in Atlanta only a few months, I met someone. His cologne immediately jettisoned me back to the train station in Germany. The exact scent could not be forgotten so I inquired. What was he wearing? Chanel Egoiste Platinum. I bought a bottle for myself and still wear it.  Men's cologne? On a woman? Try it. It can be amazing. And I wear it not as a reminder of the man but as a reminder of just how stirring a great elixir can be.

69 comments:

Cara Smith said...

I have so much to learn!

My hubs is more advanced in this subject than I am. He wears something called Angel Men that has pheremones (sp?) in it and different people describe it as different scents they love.

Dual Mom said...

Wait a second? You can wear mens cologne without smelling like a wet dog?

Slamdunk said...

Well written post JM. I am surprised that the Mr. did not find out which scent it was and wear it 24-7.

Blogging is funny--I had a post idea in the back of my head that was on smell, but more on how smell can give things away about a person.

TKW said...

I love this! I picture the man looking like Clooney :)

One of my favorite perfumes is by Jo Malone! Which one of hers do you wear?

My name is PJ. said...

Scent, more than any of the other senses, can stir memories.

Too many people don't know how to use scent on their bodies. I used to have breathing problems in the elevator when I worked.

When The Source wears cologne, I'm taken all kinds of places. :)

And I've walked up to men and asked them what they were wearing before so that I could try it on my husband. :)

mo.stoneskin said...

I've never told a stranger they smell delicious. But smell IS everything. So many times someone has passed who smells simply amazing and I've almost asked what it is. Almost.

the walking man said...

Jaysus JennyM I haven't even used a commercial deodorant other than store bought soap (Zest) since I was 17. When I worked I did sweat, especially in the heat of summer, yeah man I remember well and loved that feeling of being all slick sweat wet, knowing I was working hard and there was a hot shower waiting when the day was finally done. You office critters I suppose have to have a completely different hygiene protocol.

I admit I do like some smells people wear but for the most part...I wonder what the hell smell are they covering up?

Buckeroomama said...

To this day, my two favorite scents are Balmain's Ivoire and Eternity (for Men, but for me!). :)

Jenn@ You know... that blog? said...

Alas, I am one of those scent-sensitive people who cannot wear perfume, and have trouble being near anyone who wears it in quantity. Of course, most people know enough not to douse themselves in it, yet there are women who do, and they leave an overwhelming scent trail as they strut through a room. Not good.

That said, I wear a light citrusy body spray that makes me feel good, so I suppose that's something. But I don't own a single bottle of nice perfume.

Shoes, on the other hand? Oh baby.

Mighty M said...

I used to wear Dolce Vita too - there is one I haven't thought about in a while. Lately I am loving the scent I got from David Yurman. Not sure if it even has a name.

I LOVE when my husband wears cologne. I have told him this MANY times....yet he rarely does it. I think a friendly reminder is due.

Have a wonderful day! :)

Ed said...

My all time favorite perfume smell/memory was with the original GUESS, that came in the twisted triangle bottle. They have changed the formula now, and it's not the same. But the original was awesome. I had a girl who I loved that wore it when I was younger, and thats probably wear the fondness comes from.
For me to wear, I think my favorites were Nautica, and Cool Water, and cheapy Perferred Stock. But I haven't bought myself real cologne in years. My wife sells avon and I get stuck wearing that cheap shit. Although, the Driven by Derrek Jeter isn't bad.

The Boob Nazi said...

I told a guy he smelled delicious a couple of weeks ago... It was awkward.

ellen abbott said...

I don't wear any kind of perfume or cologne. always made me sneeze. For the same reason all laundry and other cleaning supplies are also unscented. Most people don't know how to wear perfume applying way too much. I preferred my boyfriends to not wear any either. I knew one guy was stepping out on me when he started wearing smelly after shave again. And one year my husband gave me a small bottle of perfume for my birthday (the gift of last resort for men I suppose). I looked at him like he was nuts. does this man I have lived with for 15 years not know me at all?

InkMom said...

Sephora.

Champs Elysees.

L'eau d'Issey.

Noses that big have to be good for something.

MommyLovesStilettos said...

I love to smell good but I don't know much about different perfumes. My boyfriend on the other hand, has a crazy amount of bottles of cologne and he's always buying me new perfumes to try. He's a scent dude I guess :)

MommaAmma said...

I love the feeling I get when it's time to pick the scent of the day. It's the same feeling as standing at the wine rack and jumping on the right bottle. My husband will never understand the season/occasion/time of day decision making that goes into perfume selection.

Great post. Unfortunately, the scent that always catches me is Tommy Hilfiger, the cologne of 15 year old puppy love. It's always on someone with a button down and no undershirt. Bleh!

MindyMom said...

I'm partial to Chanels for myself and I LOVE me a good-smellin man! Next time I'm at the dept store I'll check that one out. :)

Writing Without Periods! said...

I'm a big perfume nut. Opium and Obession for Men.
Mary

Linda said...

Oh I love perfume and the memories and emotions it brings! I use to wear my mom's Arpege and it made me feel so grown up. I have always loved soft scents. I need some new fragrance...with my birthday coming in June maybe I will treat myself to something special!

Pam said...

I love all the memories associated with perfumes and colognes too. Musk brings back memories of college.

Tracie said...

I wear perfume every single day. Joe Malone scents are my favorites. My husband refuses to wear cologne. Or put the toilet seat down - but that is a post for another day.

foxy said...

Have I told you lately how much I love your writing?? You have such a way with words, JM... you took me back to that train station with you and I smelled the same delicious scent that you did. Thanks for that. :)

The mad woman behind the blog said...

I'm writing all of these down and going to go play at the perfume counter ASAP.

My mother wore a simple cream sent from Avon for years and if I ever find it again I will keep it, just for myself.

And yes, men's cologne on a woman is a big fat WIN! All the tantalizing memories associated with the scent....hmmm, I think I'm in my own private heaven.

Thank you!

The Vegetable Assassin said...

My dad used to wear this lime/citrus scented after shave when I was little that I adored the smell of, so when I was about 14 that was my first perfume. I loved it. My first real perfume was "Design" by Paul Sebastian, which, even now reminds me of so many things from my teens. Oddly enough, I bought a bottle of it last year on a whim to see if it was as evocative as I always think and sure enough, the second I had it on I was transported back in time! It's fairly cheap to buy nowadays but I still like it a lot.

My absolute favourite perfume was Floris' "Pink Grapefruit" which naturally, appeared, got me hooked, then was discontinued before I could even buy a new bottle. I loved it! Such a simple, unremarkable name but what a wonderful scent.

Gosh, a comment from me that doesn't contain sarcasm. Yes I AM sick, thanks for asking.

The Empress said...

You are so right. Just a touch is wonders. It lifts my spirits. Instantty.

I just picked up Guess' new spring scent. And I love it.
I think how you made that man's day.

What a compliment.

Dumblond said...

I feel like such a roob. All these perfume and colognes...I've never heard of them!
I do remember Love's Baby Soft from middle school. I have a small bottle for when I'm feeling nostalgic. And i remember in high school, all the guys would bathe in Drakkar Noir. Cripes when I smell that stuff, it makes me hurl.
The fanciest I get nowadays is body wash and a complimentary body spray. Oooo fancy!

Intense Guy said...

You would have said, "Sie riechen köstlich" or perhaps, "Sie riechen wie ein fabelhafter Krapfen"...

I've always gotten swoony over anais anais... I can still remember when I first "inhaled" it.

SamiJoe said...

Chanel Egoiste Platinum.

What a wonderful name for a cologne!

Yankee Girl said...

I love how a scent can trigger a memory.

hotpants™ said...

Gucci Rush gives me migraines. That's one smell I'll never forget.

Mom in High Heels said...

How lucky you were. In the summer, Germans are NOT known for smelling good.
I have a strange relationship with perfumes. They can either smell really great or really bad on me, so I'm quite selective. I now only wear one perfume (I have for years) and everyone loves it and knows if I've been in a room. I wear Philosophy's Amazing Grace and people stop me all the time to tell me that I smell wonderful. Better than being told I smell bad. Something about this perfume works really well with my body chemistry, and I figure why mess with a good thing?

Myya said...

I too remember things according to smell. When I smell a certain cologne I remember the feelings I had when my now husband would flirt with me in high school. Every time I smell Big Red gum, I remember our first kiss. Definitely a powerful thing!!!

Pricilla said...

My father brought me my first real perfume back from a business trip to Paris.
I was 16
It was Joy
Perhaps a little heady for a 16 year old girl but I wore it and felt oh so sophisticated. It's all I ever wore until EnJoy came out and now when I get out of the goat pen and have a special night it's all I still wear.
I smell it and my my mind floods with memories as you say; my father, my first date, my wedding other things I don't dare write.
Scent is so powerful.
My father wore a cologne; the name I can't recall but if I smell it on a man it stops me dead and makes me cry because my father is not here. Happy tears for all the happy memories, but tears nonetheless.

Johana Hill said...

I prefer men's cologne to women's. Most of the time when I go out I use hubby's own. LOL

Right now he's on Hugo Boss and CK for men. Love them both!

Eva Gallant said...

As a teenager with a part-time job working in a department store, I fell in love with Chanel No. 5. Now I am more budget conscious and rely on Avon for my smell goods. I love Far Away.

Tiffany said...

As long as it smells good, who cares!!! I love perfume, lotions, good-smelling shampoos...anything!! Makes me feel better and happy inside.

Sara @ Domestically Challenged said...

You made me want to go buy new perfume right now! I've got my eye - er, nose- on some Escada...

Science Teacher Mommy said...

I lived in Australia for a year and a half in the mid-nineties. Coming home to white-bread Utah was an unpleasant cultural shock. I came home two days before Christmas to a houseful of people with the most shocking accents I'd ever heard. My mother got a huge wreath for her living room that winter (remember when THOSE were in style for a minute?). Honestly, the thing is like 8 feet in diameter. Anyway, it was covered with eucalyptus. When it was brand new it smelled exactly like Australia just before the rains come. I used to sit in her living room, close my eyes, breathe deeply, and remember. The months after coming home were some of the hardest in my life . . . that smell got me through more than one difficult moment. Eucalyptus still brings to mind so many sweet memories and the healing that such memories can bring.

Oh, right this is YOUR blog. Sorry about that. ;)

MommaKiss said...

I've totally worn men's cologne before. And to this day a 'clean' scented man (soap and clean laundry) can get my senses up! great memories!

GypsyNurse said...

I completely agree.... CODE BLACK...
Then I really get into my "Cat Bond" mode...tee heeeee

Simone said...

Beautiful post.....I love perfumes too and you are so right that the smell of a certain scent can transport you right back to a particular time.

And I am with you on men's colognes....I know a few people who wear them, particularly Chanel which I think suits both men and women, some of the Chanel mens perfumes have a wonderful lightness to them.

I once had an encounter with a very sexy Italian in the Caribbean....I too bought a bottle of his aftershave on my return home.....perfume is a very powerful thing!

Jennifer said...

Oh I love yummy smells, but just like with food, I'm so picky. I've only found 2 that I can stand wearing - D&G Light Blue and Moonlight Path from Bath & Bodyworks. I don't even know which ones I like on men, but I like theirs so much better for some reason. I should totally just wear mens cologne.

Masked McKenna said...

Very evocative! I have a lot to learn about perfume, but its fun to listen to a connaisseur wax eloquent on the subject.

Matty said...

You are absolutely right that scent ties to memories. Some of them not so good. My wife wants me to wear cologne, but I rarely do.

A Year on the Grill said...

now I feel guilty... wore cologne every day when dating my wife... Now i am lucky if I use Irish Spring Soap every other day...

carma said...

I love this story...unfortunately there are too many allergies in our family so I haven't worn perfume in years. Used to love Anais Anais (if I recall that correctly)

Aunt Juicebox said...

I used to date a guy who I loved the smell of so much, that for years whenever I smelled his cologne in public, I'd look around for him. Sigh.

Aunt Becky said...

The scent memories. Mmmm. I love those the most.

Eric said...

Less is usually more when talking scents. I love the smell of fresh ground marble, except for the danger of getting silicosis.

wendy said...

Mmmmmmm, what a lovely post. I love perfume too, but not the $$$ they ask for the "good" stuff.
One of my favorites I wear is from Organza...Indecence.
I used to wear Carolina Herrera and I love it too.

and over Christmas I bought my hubby a cologne called BLACK
OMG, he smells so good with it on

smells do indeed bring on different memories.

Miss E said...

Love it! I use men's body wash and it boggles my husband's mind why I want to smell like a man. In all reality, it goes away once I step out of the shower and put lotion on, but I love the clean scent. And the cool, adventurous, sultry smell.

JenJen said...

I'm off to smell the scents (with some coffee beans to clear the olfactories, natch).

Julia said...

I often prefer the men's alternative to a scent, rather than the woman's,which is often too sweet and cloying. a good example is acqua di gio` for men, which has a nice, fresh almost watermelony scent (the actual fruit, not the candy smell), whereas the woman's acqua di gio` actually does smell like a candy store. davidoff cool water for men, too, is better than the woman's version (although everything about davidoff cool water just screams "high school" to me). All calvin klein unisex scents are also so much more pleasant than the sugary girly alternatives. I could go on and on.

Personally, I have a lemon verbena cologne by L'Occitane. Not exactly designer, but light enough for every day use, elegant and fresh and clean and lemony, rather unique, if i do say so myself, and only 36 euro for 100ml!

Noe Noe Girl...A Queen of all Trades. said...

I just love a good smelling man!
<><

Tropical Mum said...

I loved this post. It really painted a picture. They say that your olfactory sense is the one that is the strongest trigger of memory.

My mom used to wear perfume and every now and then, I catch a whiff of someone wearing the perfume she used to wear and think of her and miss her so much. Ok, so now I am missing her again. Who knew that talking about smells could be a big memory trigger?

Anyway, my favourite smell on my man is John Paul Gaultier's The Man, and the one for me at the moment is Kenzo's Flowers and Ombre Rose.

Thanks again for such a lovely spot of reading.

Shelly

Herding Cats said...

Aqua de Gio is my choice scent. LOVE IT. My mom wears some sort of perfume that smells like Gardenia's. Whenever I smell those flowers, I instantly think of her. Our sense of smell is so powerful!

Little Ms J said...

I had a tryst with an older man when I was 25. Whenever I smell his cologne on another man I immediately look around for him. Granted, he is likely bald and a member of AARP at this point, but whatever.

Oh, and my friend, Mags, recently gave me a bottle of Viktor and Rolf's Flowerbomb because it smells like bug spray on her. My new signature scent. Whenever I walk into a room people comment on how good I smell. She hates it, so now when I'm getting ready she asks if I'm going to wear my Flowerslut.

Leah Rubin said...

Yes, yes, scent is the most powerful of memories! I've asked women any number of times what fragrance they are wearing if it's something that really appeals to me! Then I try it on in the store, and it's not the same...

I've been strictly a Oui girl for several years, before that it was True Love, then Alfred Sung, and way back when it was Chanel No. 19. I did have a brief fling with Vera Wang when it first came out, but didn't love it like my Oui!

shortmama said...

Once upon a time when I used to actually get out of my house I used to wear perfume every day too. Sigh. Now if I can just get in the shower its been a good day.

Heather Taylor said...

I love that you were able to find the scent again! And yes, men's cologne on a woman is fully acceptable in my world too :)

J.J. said...

My man smelled delicious one day (he doesn't normally wear cologne), I asked what he was wearing and laughed when he told me. It was Old Spice. Why is that funny? Because my dad bathed in it when I was a kid and he reeked! I used to call it Old Spit, but on my man it smells yummy!

Lori said...

My daughter is fixated on one particular men's cologne. I think she's going to eventually buy it for herself. Hey, nothing wrong with that.

Just Breathe said...

I will always wear Tova and I think my husband will always wear Dolce @ Gabbana. But let me smell some English Leather and I will be back to the days when we were dating 40 years ago.

HalfAsstic.com said...

I do love the Lolita Lempicka Midnight. I don't have the lighter one. Which do you have and which do you prefer?
I must know! ;-)
As far as memory triggers go, it seems to me that the sense of smell is one of the strongest. To this day the smell of aerosol hairspray reminds me of my mom on a hot summer day getting ready for us to leave for the zoo.
Also, I love men's fragrances on women as well. It seems to me the lighter, earthier ones do best.

secret agent woman said...

I've never been much of a perfume person, but I've always used Neutrogena sesame oil. Once I was emailing with a boyfriend of 20-some years ago and he said, "I remember you used to wear this sesame oil..." You can only smell it when you are very close, but it has a lovely warm scent that I like.

Denise said...

I love this story. And I often find men's scents less jarring on me. I used to wear sandalwood way back when. Thanks for the reminder.

Allyson & Jere said...

Loved this post. I feel like such a perfume retard after reading it though. I am seriously a one scent kind of girl. So, I wore Liz claiborn from 9th to junior year, then switched to Paris, wore that until I was literally 25 years old. Then I switched to Clinique Happy and stuck with that for a good long time. Somewhere in there was a Dolce and Gabanna scent and a Mary kay scent. Ok, now I'm just embarrassed writing it out loud. But I do agree with you, scent is super powerful, and conjures up many memories. Oh, and I LOVE a good man scent. Makes me want to cuddle up and sniff.

Erin said...

For a while, I wore that Calvin Klein "One" and referred to it as "that bisexual perfume." It was supposed to be for either/or.

When I was 14 and traveled to France to stay with a family for a month (an unofficial reverse exchange program I should probably blog about sometime), I promptly fell in love with the family's son, who was about 3 years my senior and wore Farenheit every day. I snuck into his room once and sprayed it all over my lovey. It's funny because I don't love the smell of that cologne, but it reminds me of him and I'm instantly charged whenever I catch a whiff somewhere else....his name was Gautier.

Erin said...

p.s. I can't wear perfume. It's too much for my delicate senses or something. I stick with scented lotions....hubs doesn't wear cologne b/c it gives him a headache. Which is too bad for him, if you know what I mean. LOL.