by Matt Benoit
Smell. It’s one of man’s five basic senses (or six, if you’re like the kid in “The Sixth Sense” and count seeing dead people as a sense).
Man’s awareness of just how bad he can smell and his subsequent need to cover up what Shakespeare once termed “a vile and retched stinkyness,” has been around for thousands of years, from caveman days—when the first known cologne, “Mammoth Musk,” debuted to limited success (mostly because it smelled like a dead mammoth)—to modern times, with literally thousands of products used to cover up all kinds of smells.
For use on the human body, however, there are two main groups of fragrances: perfumes for women and cologne for men.
Usually, men tend to need to wear fragrances more than women. This is because women, as we’ve all been taught, don’t actually smell bad, being able to naturally excrete from their pores the scents of vanilla and fresh lavender petals.
And there are other differences, too.
While women love to talk about, go shopping for, and try out all kinds of scent-producing products, men generally refrain from discussing their own scents with each other except to occasionally turn to one another and say, “You know, Bob, I hope this won’t affect our friendship any, but I have to say that you kind of smell like poo, and I don’t mean the honey-eating bear from young children’s literature.”
I personally love trying new colognes, mainly by way of saving all the fragrant sample inserts from magazines because I’m ridiculously cheap:
ATTRACTIVE FEMALE CO-WORKER: Hmm, you smell really good today, Matt. Where’d you get that new cologne?
ME: Between pages 34 and 35 of this week’s Sports Illustrated!
Anyway, I think the world of fragrances is pretty excellent overall, but lacks one thing: A connection to reality.
Take, for example, Axe and other men’s body products. Axe ads typically feature a strong appeal to men in the form of sex, and it’s not very realistic.
Just because you use a scented body wash or deodorant does not mean hoards of attractive women will emerge from seemingly out of nowhere to fondle your entire body and make moaning noises as if they have no control over their natural female impulses.
Not long ago, Burger King had a commercial about its mini-burgers, where a guy opens his to-go bag and really attractive women instantly begin to flock around him, moaning about how cute his burgers are. If there was the slightest hint of reality in that ad, they’d probably have a men’s cologne that smelled like broiled meat patties:
TV ADVERTISEMENT FEATURING A GUY SPEAKING IN A SLIGHTLY MYSTERIOUS VOICE: An exciting new fragrance from Ralph Lauren, it’s “Eau de Angus.” You are a cow…now…smell like one! The scent of cooked meat will awaken every sense of desire in your woman…or, at the least, make her kind of hungry.
I guarantee you many men would buy this product, including me.
I’d put it on, and the woman I really like would smell me when I walked into the same room as her, suddenly rip off her shirt, run to me, grab me, and start caressing my chest while shouting, “Oh my god, [meow noises] you smell like…beef [moaning]!”
Or maybe not.
And then there’s other non-realistic scents, like “Canoe,” which is said to contain “the scent of the sea,” even though the actual scent of the sea is usually salt and dead kelp.
My personal favorite, as a devoted motorsports fan, is “Daytona 500: The fragrance for men.” The Web site for the cologne details its many great scent ingredients, including something called “Watery Accord,” which kind of sounds like what happens when somebody tries to drive their Honda through too much standing water on a flooded roadway.
I actually attended the Daytona 500 the year the fragrance debuted (2006), and I can tell you that the actual experience of being there smelled a lot less like fresh citrus and a lot more like beer, fried chicken, and leaded racing fuel.
Another exciting aspect of fragrance lies in the fact that many celebrities, including actresses, musicians, and athletes, either endorse popular fragrances or create their own.
Examples include Elizabeth Taylor’s “White Diamonds,” David Beckham’s “Instinct,” Sean “Puff Pee Diddy Daddy” Combs’ “I Am King,” Zsa Zsa Gabor’s “I’m Really Old and Somehow Still Not Dead Yet,” Paris Hilton’s “Purse Cocaine,” and my personal favorite, Brett Favre’s “4th and Old,” which, according to its product description, is supposed to smell “like a jock strap in the waning moments of a tight, fourth quarter NFL playoff game, with a mild hint of Geritol.”
In fact, the likes of Miss Piggy and Dora the Explorer have their own fragrances (this is, in fact, true). How? Well, with any fragrance, there are two steps for success:
1) It must not smell like rotting garbage, and 2) It must have an attractive and clever name.
The success of Elizabeth Taylor’s “White Diamonds,” for example, was greatly helped by the fact that Taylor decided against the perfume’s original title, “Transparent Carbon Allotropes.” (You’re welcome, chemistry majors.)
Now, even though I’ve tried to change the subject, I know you might still be thinking about that idea of a broiled meat patty fragrance. Well, truth is that, sadly, one already exists. Burger King released its “Flame” fragrance a couple of years ago, and you can still buy it online!
I think I might die.
Or at least, go eat a hamburger. Watch out, ladies.
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