Friday, November 05, 2004

Stupid Things That Make Me Happy (Vol 2, No 1):
It’s Like Deja Pew, All Over Again

Gettin’ nose-stalgic
I’ve really have tons of work that I have to get done today, but I just had to write about this. Here’s hoping for some rare AJ brevity…

You’ve seen the commercial. The two guys in the background in the other room going apeshit over a ballgame on TV, while their girlfriends, at a table in the foreground sit bored out of their minds and disgusted, rolling their eyes at the commotion going on in the other room.

Suddenly the hometeam apparently ties the game and you hear the announcer exclaim, “This game is going into OVERtime!” and one of the guys bursts into the room to hug his girlfriend in celebration of his excitement. We see her sprout a huge grin as the smell of his Old Spice High Endurance Body Wash sends her down memory lane, flashing back to all the wonderful things times they’ve had together, reminding her of what a wonderful guy he apparently is.

As we step back into the present, we see the guy return to the TV room and resume hooping and hollering with his friend. Meanwhile the girlfriend sighs and exclaims dreamily to her friend at the table, “He’s so great…”

In the midst of all the flashbacks, the gist of the commercial’s message is laid out for the viewer as the announcer reminds us that, “Scent is the sense most strongly tied to memory.” This obviously is to indicate that we associate scents with people, places and events in our past, reliving that moment when we are re-introduced to that particular scent. This seems to be particularly true of positive smells and/or memories. And the moral of the story is, "Guys, if you always smell good your girlfriend will only remember the good things about you," or something like that.

However far-fetched the sales pitch of that Old Spice ad, it is true that good smells, usually do invoke good memories. I can't remember, for example, the last time the smell of my answering the call of nature reminded me of a really good dump from years past. But I'm sure there are some exceptions along those lines...

The reason I bring this up is that I’ve been having Deja Pew flashbacks all morning.

I like to wear cologne, but I’m wildly inconsistent about it. Besides that, when I do wear it I’m always concerned about how much to put on. There’s nothing more pathetic to me than a guy wearing so much after-shave that you can smell him across the room. I feel the same way about a woman’s perfume. On the other hand, it is nice to catch the wafting scent of either a man or woman’s fragrance as you pass by them in a room or hallway. But that is provided that the scent is a subtle and pleasant one. Some perfumes are just too strong or too flowery, while a lot of men’s colognes can be equally offensive, being either too bold or too sweet.

In recent years I’ve worn cologne a lot more often, mostly because of the fact that I’ve worked in an office and for obvious reasons have had to dress a helluva lot nicer than I did when I was a freelancer, working at home. So I’ve just gotten used to wearing it.

I’ve gone through maybe half a dozen different colognes over the past 20 years or so, but the one that I remember the most and that which brings back the best memories for me is probably the most offensive of all the ones I’ve ever used. I’m not gonna mention its name, because it’s so old and trite that I’m embarrassed to say.

It is sufficient to say that it’s strong, but when used in responsible amounts it still smells good — to me anyway. How do I know this? Well you know that I’ve talked ad nauseum about what a sentimental fool I am. Back in the early to mid-80s, I was still wearing said fragrance, and had been since around 1977 or so. Michelle decided it was time for a change. She got me a Lagerfeld gift set for Christmas, because a lot of guys were wearing it at the time (it’s popularity in the 80s became almost cliche in fact), and so I tried it, liked it and began using it for the next ten years or so.

But I just couldn’t bear to throw out my old standby, particularly since the bottle I had at the time Michelle got me the Lagerfeld was practically new. So I just stuffed it in the back of the bathroom cabinet and figured I’d hold onto it as an emergency backup. I even brought it with me when we moved from SoCal to Tennessee, why I have no idea, because it has literally sat untouched in the back of my cabinet for years — until this morning.

After a few years meandering through various Ralph Lauren fragrances and more recently Hugo Boss, Michelle again asked me to try one that she had become aware of that she liked (do we see a pattern developing here?) She brought a sample of Curve home to me last Fall and I liked it, so guess what I got for Christmas? Well last week I finally ran out. So this morning when I was getting ready for work, I was thinking, “Hmmm…don’t I still have…yep…it’s still there.”

I splashed on a small amount of my old cologne and was almost literally taken aback by the flood of memories that immediately passed through my mind. I honestly had forgotten what it smelled like. It was strong, and considerably heavier than anything I’ve worn over the past several years. I immediately hoped that I hadn’t used too much. But oh what a great feeling. I’ve had a smile on my face ever since, because every time I forget that it’s there, I’ll turn my head or stand up to walk somewhere, and suddenly I’ll smell it again. I’m then immediately transported back to the time when my kids were babies, I was driving my first new car, or I was spending great times with great friends. Funny how that works, huh?

It’s just another stupid thing that makes me happy.
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