As you can probably imagine by looking at photos or recklessly fantasizing, I smell great.
I mean, I always smell great, regardless of whether I just stepped out of the shower or a condemned bait shop that’s on fire. It’s one of my few gifts (along with my ability to eat a 16-inch sub in 39 seconds), one which I truly respect and treasure. Sure, I sweat and get filthy like everyone else, but it takes my body mere seconds to attack and destroy the foul perversions of cleanliness, leaving nothing behind but the fresh scent of pine and cinnamon. If you ever were to meet me, you’d be enthralled and encapsulated by my pheromones, unable to stand more than 4 inches away from me at all times.
My current cologne of choice is Swiss Army. While this particular scent isn’t the most popular in the world, you can find at almost any department store. It’s about $60 for a thimble-sized amount, but it’s totally worth it to smell original. I haven’t met a lady yet who wasn’t completely smitten with it. It’s a secret weapon that I trust you not to share with too many guys. My reputation is at stake. Some of my other favorites include Cool Water, Preferred Stock and Polo, although most of these have been collecting dust under my bathroom sink for some time now, shuddering with awe in the presense of the Army. I have a Cool Water air freshener in my car, too, in case you wanted to know that the Wild Stallion smelled like. I know you did.
Scents are important, and are the closest thing to a time machine us (we) humans have. Scents instantly transport us back to the most memorable time we last took it into our lungs. It’s crazy the things you can remember when floored with the right smell; or sometimes, the things you would rather forget.
When I was a freshman in High School, I wore traditional Old Spice aftershave and cologne, mainly because it was already in the house and I didn’t want to go buying anything else. Besides, there was something about the red sailboat on the bottle that screamed ‘manly!’ to me, even at such an oily and adolescent age.
One night, before a big football game, I slathered it onto my tiny 14 year old body with the ferocity of a man on a mission. Well, a little boy on a mission, at least. It was going to be a big night for me, as I was all set to make my move on a friend I had been sidling up to for a while. While I don’t recommend attempting to turn good female friends into possible mating partners, sometimes you just gotta go for it, and let the Old Spice do all the heavy lifting.
So, there I was, sitting in the bleachers next to her. We’ll call her ‘Margaret.’ I was insanely overdressed for a football game, sporting the single best outfit I had in my arsenal. Unfortunately for me, my best outfit in 1996 was an extra-large plaid collar shirt and super-tight pants. I hadn’t yet learned that when I picked out things to wear, other people would actually, you know, see them.
Besides, that’s what was popular in 1993, and I hadn’t gotten around to buying any new clothes since then. My mom figured that I’d be an extra-large someday, it was only a matter of time before the plaid fit me perfectly. My pants, however, shrunk every day with my ever-growing puberty frame. I felt like the Incredible Hulk, pants tearing up the seams, rivets popping out like old Chevy pistons.
Denim squeaking and tugging with every shift of my buttocks on the freezing cold bench, I got closer to Margaret as we talked. In the distance, a friend got my attention and remarked that my outfit was “Lookin’ good!” Of course, he was almost certainly making fun of me, or too far away to even make out who I was. Come to think of it, that guy wasn’t even talking to me.
Me and Margaret talked about school and whatnot, getting closer with each break in the conversation. My braces and oily T-zone glistened off of the floodlights as I pulled out every joke and 1970’s celebrity impression I could think of (I do a mean Richard Nixon).
She took it in like I was the Toronto skyline.
At the exact same time I made my move to hold her hand, the almost toxic scent of Old Spice wafted into her nostrils like an unleashed chemical weapon. I could tell she was investigating what the odor was, and it was only a matter of time before she became drunk off the fumes and passed out into my lap, begging me to take her to the backseat of her mom’s Chrysler LeBaron.
“Oh, you’re wearing Old Spice,” Margaret said, looking directly into my eyes with a kind of calm urgency.
“Yup, that’s right,” I fired back, smooth as a silk pillow.
“Well, my dad wears Old Spice,” she said, slowly looking down and letting go of my hand.
I was ruined. It was all over. Nobody wants to think of their own father when they’re in a situation like this. Out of all the colognes and aftershaves in the world, I had to choose the same one that her stupid dad liked to wear. In the distance, I could hear him laughing and slapping gallons of Old Spice onto his neck and cheeks, content that he successfully chastised me from over 35 miles away.
In less than five minutes, Margaret was gone, talking to that guy who made fun of my outfit. The football game hadn’t even started yet.
Cradling my head in my hands and trembling with defeat, I looked around for a friendly face. I found some friends that were sitting in the top row of bleachers, and took a seat. I told the guys what had happened, and they did their best to cheer me up and take my mind off of the situation.
Now, when most guys are faced with this sort of monumental rejection and humiliation, they normally do something monumentally stupid to compensate for it, and that’s exactly what I did. My friends had this horrid idea to take off a piece of clothing every time our team scored a touchdown. Thinking that the game would be a blowout in the opposite direction, we all talked big and swore that we were game for the stunt. Bear in mind that it was probably 35 degrees out that night, so if we didn’t get kicked out, creeping death would come knocking eventually. If this wasn’t bad enough, someone had plastered me with maroon lipstick at some point, which were our team colors.
As you would assume, this happened to be the night our team scored 63 points.
Off came the giant plaid shirt, down came the painted-on pants. A small mound of shoes, socks and baseball caps started to form under our bench. There I stood, in front of Margaret and about 500 of my new best friends, making sure everyone knew that I could handle rejection and teenage defeat with amazing bravado and charm. Bare feet freezing to the bleachers, my nipples rock-hard and blue with frost, I made a stand. If anyone was going to make me look like an ass, it was going to be me, or at the very least, my friends.
We were asked to leave before it all went terribly wrong, but know that I would have finished what I started.
Shivering and clutching my clothes, still radiating Old Spice in all directions, I walked into the parking lot and waited for my Mom to pick me up. Adding insult to injury, the lipstick that I was wearing caused an allergic reaction, swelling and cracking my lips to Jolie-like proportions. I looked like I had been robbed of my clothes, repeatedly punched in the face and left for dead in a freezer. On the inside, however, I felt toasty warm with pride.
And that’s what I think of when I smell Old Spice.