Making sense of men's scents

Kevin Cowherd

August 19, 1991|By Kevin Cowherd

LATELY I have been shopping around for a new "fragrance," which is a hip thing for a man to do these days.

This new fragrance should say something about my personality. It should be bold. It should be distinctive. On the other hand, it should not be too bold or too distinctive, as I am by nature a shy person and would be mortified to stand out in a room because of my scent.

Right now, I'm leaning toward Eternity For Men by Calvin Klein, a fragrance that appeals to me for the most basic of all reasons: Apparently the stuff drives women wild.

I say this because in the glossy magazine ads for Eternity, a man of indeterminate age is shown lying on the beach with a fetching young woman nuzzling him about the neck.

The look on his face is serene and yet confident. The look on her face is that of a woman who, um, well, has just been ravaged by her man like a wild boar.

Quite frankly, that is the sort of image I'm looking for: serene and yet confident. A man who would be comfortable lying on a beach after ravaging his woman like a wild boar.

Right now I am comfortable lying on a beach only if it's not too hot and there aren't any sand flies or chiggers about and no menacing 260-pound bikers nearby with a Marshall Tucker Band tape blaring from their cassette deck while they crush empty Bud cans on their foreheads and have their way with runaway farm girls from Nebraska.

Not that I'm making a value judgment on that kind of lifestyle. It's just not me.

But back to the search for a new fragrance.

The other day I found myself in a large men's store which happened to be selling Eternity for Men.

This was my big chance. Eagerly, I splashed a few drops on my face from a sample bottle. I let it settle into the pores of my skin to work its inevitable magic.

Then I turned to my wife and gave her my best come-hither look, a smoldering Jimmy Smits-type stare that says (or is supposed to say, anyway): "Hey, baby. Let's you and me do a little ravaging behind that sand dune over there."

For a moment, she seemed lost in thought, as if captured by my spell.

Then she said: "Did you bring the garbage cans out by the curb? Tomorrow's the pickup day."

This, of course, was not exactly the answer I had hoped for.

If a man is wearing the right fragrance, it seems to me that a woman will not be consumed with thoughts of garbage cans and sanitation department pickup schedules.

Instead, her eyes will glisten. Her skin will glow. Her breathing will quicken perceptibly when she's near him.

Then in a husky voice she will say: "To hell with the garbage cans. To hell with the dinner dishes. To hell with the kids' homework and their baths and the fact that your mother is visiting and there's not a thing in the house to eat. Let us go lie on a beach, Eduardo, so that you can ravage me like a wild boar."

Of course, being the shy sort of person that I am, I could not take a woman up on such an offer -- if for no other reason than my name is not Eduardo.

The thing is, I just want to be asked. This way I would have the opportunity to say: "Poor child, no, I'm sorry. I can't lie on a beach with you and ravage you like a wild, um, whatever that animal is.

"Too many people around. Plus the sand flies and chiggers. No, it would never work out."

Anyway, given the disturbing developments in that men's store, the logical question is: Have I given up on Eternity for Men?

Not quite. Let's just say I'm mildly disappointed that the fragrance apparently summons images (at least in some people) of egg shells and coffee grinds and three-day-old newspapers simmering in a large Rubbermaid container.

Unless it's just me that provokes that kind of thought pattern.

Then again, maybe I have to take a long, hard look at some of the other fragrances on the market. There is Paco Rabane ("Wear Paco And Be Remembered. What Is Remembered Is Up To You.") There is Balenciaga ("The Power of Dreams.") There are Perry Ellis and Guess and Lagerfeld Photo and many, many more.

So many fragrances, so little time.

Although if anyone mentions Hefty trash bags, we might have a problem here.


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