It used to be that women had a “signature” scent, a brand they used almost exclusively. I’m not sure that’s true any longer…perhaps it’s an artifact from a by-gone age. Both my Mom and my grandmother had signature scents. My maternal grandmother was an Evening in Paris woman. Her dressing table was littered with those cobalt-blue bottles and containers, each emblazoned with a silver label with the brand name in flowing script. Evening in
Mom was a Chanel No 5 woman (which, if you clicked the link, you’ll note is hideously expensive these days)…none of the upstart “new” Chanel fragrances for her, thank you. Just the original. She applied her perfume in a quick, deft manner that was the grand finale to her toilette ritual—otherwise known as “fixing my face”—a dab behind each ear and a dab in the crook of each elbow. She’d place her index finger over the bottle opening, tilt the bottle quickly on end, apply the dab, repeat. Not much at all, when you came down to it. “There are other places, too, but not for you to know,” she once told me, with a grin and a wink. Which, of course, was lost on me until much later in life. My mother’s use of perfume was subtle to the point one wasn’t really sure she was wearing any at all, but you knew she had a very attractive aroma about her. And that’s the way it should be, to my way of thinking.
The Second Mrs. Pennington wore White Ginger when we first met. White Ginger is a very clean, fresh sort of scent and it drove me nuts, in a very good, extremely good, way. Very appropriate for a young woman, and also very erotic. Perhaps it was the fact I was young and in love. Or perhaps White Ginger was the icing on the cake, so to speak. But whatever it was, that scent, on the rare occasion I encounter it these days, immediately transports me back to Former Happy Days. Interestingly, TSMP developed an allergy to perfume later in life and quit wearing it altogether. She also insisted I quit wearing after-shave, too, because it affected her in the same way.
Which brings me to the subject of male scents, or after-shave. My father, he of the Greatest Generation, used exactly two: Old Spice and Mennen Skin Bracer. That was it. I think that approach was wide-spread among men of his cohort. It was unseemly for men to wear “perfume,” and he told me so in no uncertain terms. So…during my adolescence the only scents in my medicine cabinet were his scents—like father, like son.
That changed when I went into the military. I remember standing in the common latrine one evening, getting ready to splash some Skin Bracer on after shaving, and having a friend ask “Why are you using that cheap (stuff)?” “Here,” he says, “try this,” handing me his bottle of English Leather. I did. And I got a good comment from the Lady Friend that evening, something on the order of “Wow…you smell good!” (or something to that general effect.) I went to the BX the next day and bought some English Leather. Which, in turn, was followed by Jade East, Canoe, British Sterling, and all sorts of scents. I settled on Canoe and wore that until TSMP insisted I abandon all scent products. Now that I’m single again my “signature” scent is Burberry’s (or Burberry’s Weekend, when I can find it)…and will probably remain so.
Oh…if you’re wondering: I’m better, but still not well. I won’t be venturing very far a field today.