March 1997
s m u g
smoking jacket
by Jack Smith


Suddenly there was a problem with the way I smelled. It seems as if one day a giant neon sign over my head appeared that said, "Give me your tired, your poor, your mentally ill, left handed, needy chycks with short hair, nose rings, and enough issues to fuel 2 sessions of Congress and a daily half hour show on CourtTV." It had to be my cologne, Joop. I couldn't fathom that my personality was causing this. Sure, you may think it shallow of me to dis Wolfgang Joop for my attracting the less stable of the opposite sex, but I'm willing to admit that I'm about as deep as a wading pool when it comes to placing the blame for my own personal hangups.

My soul searching had barely scratched the surface before I decided to dump my current odor for something new. I've found that when it comes to fashion, it's best not to delve into it too deeply. Instinct and first impression rule the surface. Don't think. Just do... just do... just do it. "Just Do" I repeated as my marketplace mantra. Cash money in hand.

My quest began at Marshall Fields. I felt Fields was a safe choice going in. Lots of variety presented in the well lit, clean area. (Not to mention those free gifts when purchasing the big ticket smell packs.) The order of the day was securing a scent that few other people had and one that conveyed the essence that is me. Something manly, yet revealed that sensitive poet inside. An odor that hinted slyly, "The cat you are sniffing right now fills his time with sawing things, killing things and spitting on things, yet he can still find moments to toss off a few smug lines about the state of literary theory or lecture on the finer points of the love between two women as captured on video tape."

I anxiously approached the counter, Gina (I placed an imaginary heart over the "i") asked me if I knew what kind of fragrance I was going for. "Henry David Thoreau," I replied, confidently. She didn't quite get it and immediately directed me to the new Michael Jordon cologne called Airball or Canoe-bian or I Wish I Was Out Playing The Back Nine at Augusta With Mike And Not Here Letting You Smell Me, I forget what it was called. Anyway, I knew that as much as I like Mike, his parfum wasn't going to magically bestow on me a killer move to the bucket or infinite hang time. (That's what the shoes are for.)

But, I'm already there at the fragrance counter at Fields. Gina is there to guide me through the great stinky maze. (She wouldn't steer me wrong.) I indulge her and huff the stuff anyway. BOOM. One whiff and I'm gone. I wake up later in my apartment in a pool of my own sick with "Tupac Is Not Dead. He's Just Sleeping." tattooed across my stomach. Not wanting to end up like Keith Moon or, worse, Fatty Arbuckle, I decide to take a pass on smelling like Mike.

Round 2: The Gap.

I'm a big fan of colognes that smell like pieces of my childhood. And nothing recreates my adolescent lawn mowing business like The Gap's Grass. However, Grass is a fragrance for special occasions as most times it's not to your advantage to smell like a groundskeeper at Fenway. So, with my fave GAP smell out of the running, I just started walking around the store unfolding shirts and thinking about what I was really looking for.

I met a girl named Kelly a few months ago and Kelly smelled like Pez. Some peculiar combination of incense and parfum yielded a scent so alluring and familiar it sent my hormones raging full on. I imagined with each kiss, Kelly would reward me with a sweet candy treat. I was in love. But, my love quickly passed with the fading of her sugary scent. At the time I thought, "I could make a million bucks off a Pez scented cologne? CKPez, maybe?" My physiological reaction to the Pez girl's odor is the wet dream of every fragrance chemist but why hasn't the Calvin Klein or GAP realized it?

The combination of smelling the Grass and thinking about Kelly sent me into a tizzy right there in the middle of the GAP.

With the Gap's behemoth marketing muscle behind me, I could cash in on a whole new sense. Vision and touch, well, those are so five minutes ago. Smell, now that's where the tall dollars of the future are. If you want to keep exploiting the young masses, you've got to follow your nose (it always knows) to the new edge. And that edge is the repackaging of our childhood memories into 12 oz. sprays and shower gels.

There are a number of fragrances I can think of right off the top of my head that would go gangbusters in that 25-34 demo: Gerber's Banana Baby Food, Pez, Burning Big Wheel Tire, Leaded Gasoline (OK, maybe that's not such a good one.), Wet Stuffed Animal, Count Chocula... the list goes on. And for every product you've got to have an ad campaign... lemme see... for TV... 25 year old hipsters wearing small oval glasses and garanimals with copy like "TV steal your memories? Now, you can buy them back." Perfect.

(GAP, I know you're out there. Feel free to use that idea. I'll take nothing less than 10% of gross retail for that one. If that's a little too rich for your blood, I've got another thought. I'll take 3% if you can make this idea work: a line of perfumes based on the Humours: The Biles (Yellow and, always fashionable Black), Blood and Phlegm. Contact my lawyer, when you want to start talking.)

As I leave the GAP, I realize that the fragrance I need just isn't out there. So, I decide to go scentless. The bad Joop mojo? Well, let's chalk that up to experience. That'll teach me to go around smelling like a german. I drop by the bookstore on the way out of the mall and a girl started talking to me while I was checking out the music rags. She was tall with short black hair and blue eyes and a nose ring and and and...

And I'm here to tell you it was all good. All good until I noticed one thing. In her hands she held a copy of Women Who Love Too Much. I politely excuse myself and bolt for the exit. And then I realized that I wasn't wearing any cologne. No smell. Au natural. So, it's NOT the Joop. But that brings frightening thoughts that maybe it's ME that's bringing all this weird mojo down. I pass the store windows on the way to my car and stop in front of Foot Locker. I stare at a rack of Nikes. I glance at my feet. I stare at the Nikes. I glance at my feet. And then with a wide grin and sigh of relief, I think, "It's the shoes."

back to the junk drawer

and such
and such

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