Revisiting Cologne

Now that I am all Going Grant, I’ve also decided upon a personal scenting strategy. Well, no, that makes me sound more metrosexual than a man named Cary could stand. I’ve not started using body washes or gels; it’s still simple cake soaps sold at 36 for $5 at the warehouse store and $1 shampoo for me. I have started dabbing on a little cologne, though, since I have quite a chemistry lab of little vials of it as I recently discovered as I unpacked a little bin underneath the sink. And I wonder: has any man ever used a complete bottle of cologne?

I ask this as a veteran of many annual Estate Saling campaigns. In the homes of older gentleman, you would often find several half-empty bottles of cologne, which means that these fellows carried these bottles to the end of their retirements (or to their interments in assisted living facilities). The Avon collectible bottles, usually quarts or pints of cologne contained in cars, animals, or other cutesy decanters, were often empty, though—does that mean Avon is more popular? I would ask, but the bored people overpricing the “antiques” (anything not made of chipboard) don’t know.

As I knock on the door of age forty (or, more appropriately, the age of forty gets its no-knock warrant signed and is en route to my house in the middle of the night), I have several bottles of cologne that are over 20 years old already, so if I don’t take action now, my children will inherit them.

The oldest bottle of cologne that I have is a large bottle of Old Spice that I received in middle school, back when we lived in a trailer in Jefferson County, Missouri. We didn’t have a lot of use for it at the time, but my younger brother and I received matching bottles that we stored in our six-by-eight shared bedroom. Did we feel sophisticated when we dabbed a little on for the occasional funeral? I don’t remember, so I cannot think so.

The next set of colognes I received I got as a Christmas gift from my National Honor Society secret Santa. Mrs. Griffith was a teacher in the special ed wing of Annex 2 of Northwest High School, so she did not have NHS students fighting to be her Secret Santa. I got her the first year at the luck of the draw. She gave me for Christmas a set of 1 ounce sample bottles, including Jovan Musk, English Leather, Millionaire, Wind Drift, and other nasal flavors. I have carried them with me to college, back from college, to my first apartment, to my marital homes, and on to Nogglestead (which is still a marital home, sorry, ladies who cannot resist a well-aftershaven man). I’m really glad that she didn’t get the same thing for her Secret Santa the next year, since I chose her on purpose for a second tour of gifting.

The newest bottle of cologne I have is a bottle my wife bought, something called Chrome. I tend to wear that most frequently, mostly because it was packed with clothes and not in a little bin of forgotten bathroomernalia. Also, I’d like to think my wife cannot resist a Chrome-aftershaven me, although I don’t try absolutely every time I wear it because it’s too nice a hypothesis to disprove through science. Of all the colognes I own, it’s the only one with a pump to spray it, so even though it’s named for a metal, it’s still the most metrosexual of the bunch.

I was surprised when I unwrapped the glass bottles from the bubblewrap protecting them: I no longer have the bottle of Aspen I received in college for Christmas. When I was at the university, my best friend was named Brian. We worked together at a grocery store, which leads to an unrelated but amusing story: Brian and I both worked in the Produce department for a while, and a friend of mine who also knew Brian called. He answered and recognized her right away. “Hi, Chris, Brian is not here. This is Brian.” You can insert the appropriate Abbott-and-Costelloish routine here, and you would not be far off. At any rate, Brian wore this cologne, Aspen, in quantity; he liked to say how he liked to leave a little bit of him behind in the rooms he visited. He liked it so much, and maybe thought highly enough of me, that he bought a 4 ounce bottle for me for Christmas. Needless to say, I didn’t wear it. Who would have known? Certainly not Joyce, the checker whom I considered asking out with all the appropriate English major playing Hamletism I could muster. Brian beat me to the punch and olfactorily assaulted her at a movie or something. She later learned I was considering, sometime, maybe, if the circumstances were right, asking her out, and she told the intermediary that she dated one Brian, she didn’t need to date both. Thanks, Brian. By the way, I couldn’t find the cologne you got me, but it’s not because I used it all up. It spilled in the lesser clothes drawer of my dresser. My clothes are finally coming out of it now.

To make a short story long, that’s where my cologne collection stands now. I’m reeleventing my efforts to smell a little nice every day and to get rid of these things. Today, I smell of Chrome (look out, honey!). Tomorrow, perhaps Jovan Musk. Or maybe a cocktail of Leather of an English Millionaire Drifting in the Wind. The odds are against the Oldest Spice, though, since I’ll need to remember to chip some solid crystalline growth around the bottle top before I get it open.

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