Dollars And Scents

Continuing on from the post about my naked face, I decided to shop for aftershave / cologne fragrances. Oy, vey.

As I intimated, the last time I used this stuff at all was in the 1970s / early 1980s, so times have changed [sigh] and as always, not necessarily for the better.

I used to use Halston 1-12, but it’s no longer in production and while it’s still available — and cheap! — I fear starting to use something which is no longer made because after a while, it starts to cost more and more because of diminished supply.

And anyway, just because it smelled okay on me back then, there’s no guarantee it would still smell good on me now, because one’s body chemistry changes with age (I’m told).

So I would have to, I thought, start looking for a “new” fragrance and experiment over time to see which one would work — and just for the hell of it, I hie’d me off to Macy’s. Dear God.

Firstly, the prices… sheesh, I’m a guy, not a chick. You can’t expect me to spend $100 (or more) just for some smelly stuff, when there’s ammo to be bought from the same pitiful bank account.

Plus, I think that the product offerings are just proof of the Pussification Of The Western Man,, to coin a phrase, and I suspect that the fragrance people use the poxy inhabitants of the West Hollywood YMCA as product testers. A few samples:

Eros? by Versace? Nope. Next:

Perhaps if they spelled their name (and product) with a “U” instead of that pretentious Latin equivalent… but no. To proceed, then:

Sorry; Dior to me means “chick stuff” and while I am quite secure in my masculinity, I wouldn’t use a product called “Kotex” either, even if it came in 140-grain boat-tail softpoints.

Ditto anything made by some Spaniard, and also, did you see the price of it?  That’s five boxes of quality self-defense .45 ACP, at the discount price! Next!

“Chanel’s Bleu by Chanel” — from the Department of Redundancy Department. Also: Chanel? See “Dior”, above.

Even the perfumes in “masculine” packaging look as gay as Brian Boitano:

“Viktor and Rolf”?  “Spicebomb”?
A man could get some exotic venereal disease just by buying that stuff. To continue:

“Guilty” of what? Spending too much money on bullshit smelly stuff?

No no no no no. No. Clearly, I would have to resort to the more old-fashioned scents and/or potions. But which?

$105 for Ralph Lauren? It is, as they say, to laugh.

So I quit Macy’s because clearly I was looking in the wrong place, and headed off to Amazon.

Before I entered their online portal, however, I decided to do a little pre-research, because I was going to have to try more than one cologne, just to avoid problems with unsatisfactory smells etc. So I called up an old girlfriend (Skype is a godsend) to get her ideas on the topic.

“I remember liking the way you used to smell.” (After so many years… hubba hubba.)
“Do you remember what cologne I wore back then?”
“I liked the Old Spice… it always smelled fresh, you know?”
“Great. So I’ll get some of that…”
“Wait… I also liked English Leather on you. You wore it to that party at Carol Beith’s house, and I remember it.”
Better and better. “Remember the Halston 1-12?”
“Oh yes — YES! I loved that smell!” [pause] “Or was that the cologne that Kissy Foss [my replacement – K.] used? It’s SO long ago.”

So that was my research. I know, it’s a sample of only one ex-girlfriend — but I couldn’t do any more without running afoul of the restraining orders.

The next question, as I clicked on the Amazon link and started to enter product names in the search bar, was: does anyone still make these things anymore? Well now, lookee here:

…and just for kicks, and the hell with Kissy (his actual nickname) Foss:

English Leather wins out, on a cost per ounce basis anyway; but I’ll try them all, get some feedback from some of the (very few) women whose opinions I trust, and make my final decision. Then I’ll order a boatload of the winner, so that I won’t run out anytime soon.

Or maybe I’ll just grow my beard back.


Afterthought: In response to Reader goingtothefields (Welsh? no matter) in Comments, I need to tell y’all something.

I too know something about the fragrance business — back in the days of sailing ships, I worked at an ad agency whose client was Max Factor, and at whose behest I did a one-week course on fragrances: their types, their classifications, their histories and most tellingly, the trends.

As with all things, scents follow a pattern — one falls out of favor, another comes in, and the large perfumiers can actually predict what fragrances will be popular up to five years out: musk, floral, citrus, spice(s) and what have you are all combined in different measures to create the product, akin to the creation of blended whiskies and whose formulations are closely-guarded secrets..

It’s all a lot of bollocks, of course. Basically, the costs in the fragrance industry are 65% marketing, 20% packaging, 10% merchandising and 5% product: hence we end up paying retail prices of hundreds of dollars per ounce for perfume (as opposed to cologne / eau de toilette, which are cheaper, but less effective because of dilution).

What Have I Done?

Yesterday morning, a stranger’s face peered out of the mirror at me. This was because, in an uncharacteristically-impulsive action the night before, I shaved off my beard and mustache; and now, for the first time since Army boot camp in 1977, my face is naked.

Actually, it wasn’t impulsive. My facial hair grows like wildfire, and I just got sick of having to trim it about every other day. So I’m going to try this new look / sensation for a while*.

I grew a beard right after graduating from high school back in 1971, and even then I tired of trimming the damn thing — no Muslim-type ragged growth for me, thank you — but I was fortunate that I was always able to find a willing face-gardener to do the tiresome chore for me.

And speaking of which: several women in my long and checkered love life adored my beard and muzzie — one said that after kissing me, all other men felt like she was kissing a woman — but as my chances of ever kissing a woman in that way again are depressingly slim, I don’t really care. (And I’m going over to Britishland again in a few weeks so the odds grow even slimmer.)

Not that I’m looking to kiss a woman again, mind you. For one thing, cooties; and more importantly, that would require some kind of affection on my part, so fuhgeddabaht it.

I also trimmed my luxuriant British-styled hair back to its usual 3/4″ all-over length (no kidding, I did have my hair styled Over There), but that’s not really a change.

I think I look like a mugshot of a man wanted in twenty states for serial murder, but Doc Russia (who has a full, luxuriant Orthodox priest-type beard) thinks the clean shave makes me look younger.

Not that I care about that, either.

Thank goodness I have a decent badger-hair shaving brush and a choice between a single-edge (if I’m in a hurry) and straight razor (if I’m not). I do need to look at aftershave lotions, though; the last time I bought any was about 1979. Does anyone know if Halston still makes 1-12, or am I dating myself terribly by even suggesting it?


*No pics; I don’t do selfies and I can’t imagine why anyone would be interested in this nonsense either.

Semi-Finalist

So in the ongoing search for a replacement for Nigella Lawson as my online fantasy woman extraordinaire, another contestant has come to mind: she’s over 50, somewhat classy — at least, she cleans up well — and boy… her other qualifications are shall we say, outstanding:

Now, I am not normally smitten by our Hispanic cousins, simply because I tend to prefer whiter-than-white skin, but let me tell you Salma Hayek gets me with her accent, too. I know that Mexican thing isn’t everybody’s favorite, but to me it’s cute and exotic (video link). And did I mention her other attributes?

The only part of Salma which might cause me some concern is that she’s that excitable-Latina type — all drama and waving arms — and I prefer a quiet life.

So maybe the search will have to continue…

Oh Hell

Ever since Part 1 of my Britishland sabbatical and my horror at seeing what looked like a heavily-pregnant old man shooting clays (pic below), I’ve become very conscious of what I eat [diet details redacted because nobody wants to read that shit*].

As a heretofore-lifelong chocolate eater, however, I can honestly say I hate Charlie Martin. Why?

Fortunately, I’m not studying, the only tests I face are of willpower when confronting my fourth or fifth pint of 6X, the only test I want to “pass” is a police blood-alcohol test, and I’ve had enough “new information” to last me several lifetimes, thank you. So I won’t be hitting the Aero or Milky Bars (my erstwhile choco-drugs of choice) anytime soon.

Unless, that is,  some scientist discovers that eating chocolate will make me irresistible to 55+ year-old women (and as we all know, another medical study will then “prove” that eating chocolate is linked to geriatric leprosy or something).


*Yes, I’m on a diet, for the first time in my life. No, I’m not going to talk about it because dieters are more boring than first-time mothers or even vegans. If it works, you’ll see pictorial proof at some point; if not, I’ll just go back to eating chocolate and drinking 6X to wash down my fish & chips / steak pies, and nobody will be any the wiser. And finally: all dietary advice in Comments which includes the words “paleo”, “crossfit” and other such foulness will be summarily stricken. In fact, don’t bother with any advice at all. You have been warned.

New Entrant

As Loyal Readers will already know, the Goddess Nigella has lost favor with your Humble Narrator because she’s lost too much weight and has become unattractive (to me, anyway).

Much as I am tempted to transfer my online infatuation to a Train Smash Woman such as  Lisa Appleton, she is rather a little too much of a good thing, if you get my drift:

Sadly, Train Smash Women also tend to be dead common, which is a major disqualification. Also, there’s that slightly crazed look in Miss Lisa’s eye which suggests that my pet bunny would not be safe around a kitchen pot.

So the search continues. I’m not going to spell the search criteria out, because in fact they are largely undefinable. Let’s just use the Old Nigella as a template, and take it from there:

Okay, what the hell, let’s give it a try: Nigella’s replacement must be over 50 years old, classy, with a full figure and a decent cleavage. Sadly, the very first criterion eliminates most well-known women these days because they all seem to have the morals of stoats and all the class of a full airline barf bag. Nevertheless, we can but try; I’m not looking for unblemished near-virginity — Nigella is anything but that — but a touch of class would be a definite starting-point.

It’s early days, of course, but ol’ Helen Mirren does cause a certain stirring in the loins:

Let’s just say she’s first out of the starting gate.

Back In The U.S., Back In The U.S., Back In The U.S.A.

I should have been arrested.

Mr. Free Market dropped me off at Heathrow yesterday, after taking me on a long, meandering drive through Hardy Country which just made me glad I’ll be back at the end of October for Part Two of Sabbatical 2017. For the record, I was three hours early for my flight — which was a good thing, as you will see.

For reasons unknown, I hadn’t been able to check in online so I went to the check-in kiosk to do so. The message was “Fuck off, Yank” (not worded quite like that, but that was the gist of it) so I had to go and see an actual person, who checked my luggage (no overweight baggage charge, even though I was coming back with more than what I’d left with — strange) but unusually, she asked me all sorts of questions about where I’d been staying, why I’d been in the country so long, and so on. She was an airline flunky, not a security person, so I said curtly, “I was in Wiltshire to inter the remains of my late wife,” which brought forth an immediate apology and a quick check-in.

So: on to the security line. Remember, this was not my first rodeo, so I knew the drill: laptop into its own bucket, empty pockets, remove belt, boots, etc. — i.e. not a single suspicious thing on my person remained… and yet I still triggered the alarm which got me a full-body search and pat-down by, it should be said, a very polite, even apologetic Brit-style TSA guy who had, interestingly, an Arabic name. All this took ages, and I started to steam slowly; but just when I was about to open my big mouth and start asking pointed questions, the search came to an end, and I was free to wander around the maze of shops and such in Heathrow’s Terminal 3.

I bought a few things: newspaper, road food for the flight (I don’t touch airline food because ugh), and decided to grab a meal before I went to the gate. “The Curator’s” restaurant (quoi?) seemed decent, so I went in and got a (wait for it) fish ‘n chips along with a couple pints of bitter ale — not 6X, but not bad for all that — and had a long, leisurely read of the Telegraph. Eventually, I finished up and strolled down to gate 31 — of course it was a long walk down, did you even have to ask? — but when I got there, things got ugly.

I got flagged and pulled out for another random search — this time of my carry-on bag, which held all the office paraphernalia to do with my laptop. This agent was an Indian guy — complete with singsong accent — and he checked my bag like a ferret sniffing out a rabbit, as well as swabbing down everything with that little explosive residue-detector swab thingy. Then he turned his attention to me: again with the belt, again with the boots off, again with the pat-down, and this time I got swabbed for as well, just for good measure. Of course, I didn’t have any explosive residue on me — which seemed to surprise Mr. Patel — but I was nevertheless still close to one of Kim’s Deluxe #1 Explosions of Rage, but once again, the examination ended suddenly and I was able to board the plane.

I am convinced that I was profiled for close scrutiny long before I even got to the airport — hence the difficulty checking in online, the interrogation from the ticket agent and the two intensive searches by airport security.

Anyway, the airliner wasn’t full to the brim with people — in fact, I had an empty seat next to me so I could sprawl, manspread and lean away from the aisle so I wouldn’t get nailed in the shoulder by the fucking drinks cart every time it passed by (which had been my experience going over to Britishland).

This restored my good humor somewhat, so I flirted with the flight attendant, offered her my assistance should she have any unpleasantness with an unruly passenger, and also offered translation services in French or German should the need arise — all of which resulted in some primo service from her for the duration of the flight. I even managed a couple hours sleep.

Doc Russia picked me up at DFW and brought me back to his house where we adjourned to the Smoking Terrace and proceeded to drink pints of gin & tonic. (Seriously: G&T in pint glasses.) I stayed up to try and get my internal time-clock readjusted by staying awake until midnight (6.00am GMT), had the usual excellent chat with Doc, and went to bed to sleep.

Didn’t work. Four hours later my body said, “What the hell are you doing, still sleeping at 10 o’clock in the morning?” so I woke up and started to unpack my carry-on bag…

…and discovered a six-inch screwdriver which I had forgotten about and which had somehow escaped the notice of two security checks.

I could have been arrested.