In the steam bath, with nothing else to think about, I noticed bottles my wife has collected, and thought about fragrances...
I like Herbal Essence shampoo. The natural odors (a chemical formula) remind me of Asia hotels. I dislike the chemical notes of most bath products, such as Axe or other male brands. I could not play a role in their advertising, due to my wrong lifestyle and aversion to the product.
A few memories of my youth linger, when male fragrances were sparse. My father used Old Spice. (I even recall the inane advertising: Old Spice means quality, said the captain to the bosun; so look for the package with the ship that sailed the ocean.) The worst product was Aqua Velva. Tales were spread of sailors drinking the horrible stuff, due to lack of alcoholic beverages. I don’t know how they got past the smell. Bay Rum was the smell-good stuff at barber shops, where haircuts were quick, cheap, and without fanfare. I recall a college friend, who first bragged of paying 7 or 8 dollars at a “hair stylist”, at a time when I was paying 25 cents at an Army barber. That was good enough.
As teenager, the cool fragrance was Canoe, which I could not afford. This was my first temptation buy a brand name, something now so ingrained in the human experience. Eau de cologne was not a big item in Vietnam, except for the delusional souls hoping to impress some barmaid. Later, I discovered Aramis, which was the male brand of Estee Lauder. I used that sparingly for years and use even less now. I like Clinique and was tempted to buy a bottle of Gucci, after sampling a bottle found in the men’s room of the Gucci cafe in Milan.
While we are on the subject of men’s fragrances, I find few things worse than having to be in a room with some guy wearing too much bad cologne (which I mentioned in my first novel, Sister Sisteron.)
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.