Friday, April 15, 2011

Heaven scent

Y ou could call odor the holy spirit of fashion. You can`t see it, but you cannot deny its influence.

Take the good smells, like my baby`s hair, aka mama`s heroin. Even when my daughter is screaming because some bully is trying to force her to wear pants on her legs instead of her head, the scent of her blond curls turns my frustration into mushy love. Biology was strategic here. Moms need to like their kids, so kid-scalp smells like awesome.

I'm sure poodle feet -- which smell like a curiously wonderful combo of barley and Fritos-- have the same survival evolution.

And husband armpit. The cavewoman in me smiles when he smells like manual labor, car grease and landscaping. This isn't a "good" smell, per se, not like lilacs or potpourri. Pretty much the opposite. But it resonates on a cellular level, saying, "This man works hard and will take care of you and your Frito-feet dogs."

A few years ago, my friend B and I went out after playing softball. We were dirt-smeared, stinky and crusted in sun-cooked Heineken spillage. And never have any girls been hit on as much as we were that night. Strange, what with all of the money that goes into producing synthetic odors that are supposed to attract others and make us feel beautiful.

Before hippies raise their arms in celebration, let me be clear I'm not advocating what you have brewing under there. In fact, I once gifted a French exchange student a very necessary (as in so-stinky-you-can-taste-it) stick of deodorant. (He still didn`t use it.)

And nothing makes me want to punch faces more than the cocktail of patchouli and unwashed dreadlocks.

But the eye-watering blast of too much Elizabeth Arden musk is just as bad. In fact, there's a Facebook group just for this phenomenon: Banning "Old Lady" Perfume.

I was recently reminded of this problem after having lunch with an acquaintance who bathes in Charlie, and then dries off with White Diamonds, and then powders with Emeraude and then accents with Estee Lauder Youth Dew. And then double-accents with Obsession.

When I got back in the office, I realized her perfume had jumped onto me like and embedded itself into my flesh like a tick. I couldn't smell anything else. I got dizzy. Nauseous. After a few raised eyebrows, I realized everyone thought it was my intentional funk. I needed to go home sick. And take a lighter to my clothes. Just like a real tick.

So how do you find the balance between smelling like a dirty Dumpster-diver and a newly divorced man with his shirt halfway unbuttoned to reveal his chest fluff?

Moderation. Spray it in the air and walk through it. Dab it. If you go through more than a bottle a month and you have no friends, consider the connection.

Choose a more subtle "body mist" or lotion instead. However, you don`t need to use a scented soap, exfoliater, shaving cream, lotion, mist and perfume.

But beware of too much mist. Basically I am talking about Axe body spray and 16-year-old boys. I know it's exciting that you finally have B.O., but calm down.

Find the right scent. For my friend B, that means dabbing her favorite scent, coconut rum, on her wrists.

Photo by Flickr user anetz.