On a frosty night not long ago, an out-of-town friend and I sought refuge in a cozy Thai restaurant, thinking a couple bowls of tom yum and some pad Thai would warm us while we caught up.
It did, and everything was great. We laughed, we reminisced, we talked about the holiday time we’d spent with our families. We talked about the woman on whom he has a crush. We talked about the sorts of things longtime friends talk about when they get together for the first time in six months.
And then, an unfortunate olfactory incident.
Another diner entered the restaurant and assaulted us with an odor so intense I realized my eyes were no longer watering from the spicy food.
They were watering because the guy had apparently doused himself with cologne.
His scent — an olio of sweat, olive brine and gym shoes with top notes of ammonia and lime and a feta cheese base note — filled the smallish dining room.
What the heck, I sniffled to my friend.
And then I remembered: It’s Stinky Guy Season, the weeks between Christmas and the middle of February when lots of men overindulge in fragrance, believing, as men so often do, that more is better.
Some are trying to show off their Christmas cologne, usually bought by children or significant others they are eager to validate. Some think fragrance will help them achieve their new year’s resolution of being more sophisticated or being irresistible to women. Others figure it will disguise the fact that they skipped their morning shower.
Also, there’s a scientific reason men overspray. “My smeller doesn’t work so good,” said my friend, who wasn’t bothered by the offending cloud of cologne. “Men don’t have as good a sense of smell as women. Scientifically, I think you’ll find it to be true.”
It is also true that by the middle of next month, many of these fragrance offenders will have blown off their new year’s resolutions. Or realized women don’t like guys who over-scent. Or run out of cologne (most guys don’t buy their own). Or gotten over the novelty of fragrance. And the high season will be over.
We’ll still encounter stinky guys, however.
Which is the thinking behind a new fragrance collection from Old Spice. Arriving in stores now: super long lasting Old Spice Re-fresh Body Spray ($3.99 each at pharmacies and stores such as Meijer, Target).
The secret to these sprays, according to Old Spice, is a patented molecule that absorbs some fragrance as the body spray dries on the skin and then releases it when the wearer sweats.
The collection’s slogan: One spray lasts all day.
Will the guys who chronically abuse fragrance believe this?
As women, we are taught to believe that fragrance, beauty and grooming products will make everything better, transforming us from bland to beautiful, so-so to seductive. During fits of insecurity or uneasiness even those of us who know better fall into this trap — I still cringe when I think of the times I wore so much bronzer I looked orange. We forget that these products are meant to enhance what we already have, not turn us into something artificial or smelly.
Men who are chronic over-sprayers are no different; they have bouts of insecurity, too.
We just don’t always realize that.