I can´t seem to get the aroma thing right.
My problem? Simple hopelessness in the smelling department. Despite my best efforts to have them job ready, my olfactory nerves are perpetually out to lunch, applying for the strike fund. After a splash or two of eau de cologne, most scents I know wind up thrilling my nose as much as would a dose of H2eau de Boulogne.
Truth be told, my favourite smelly is usually the one I have at hand. Like most men, the women in one´s life -- be they girlfriends, sisters, mothers, even wives -- always seem to insure that there´s a steady stream of aftershave in the pipeline. In my case, my scents have become a moveable feast -- a kind of ´scent de jour.´
One day I´ll happily appear at breakfast, after my morning bout with shaving, smelling as tart as a lemon. That could be my Canoe moment, thanks to a gift from my daughter Abigail. Later in the week, I might fancy a dash of Polo Sport. A bit sweeter smelling, that. If I´m particularly flush, a drop or two Armani might grace my face. As a last resort, there´s even the skin-stretching tartness of witch hazel, bought at the chemist in litre jugs. Each change marks a mood. Call it the closest bottle.
Or, the cheapest. My latest aftershave in that category has an intriguing moniker, ''Serpico,'' like the eponymous New York cop. Serpico smells OK, and, yes, it´s inexpensive. I get the firewater at the ''Everything for a Pound'' shop when I´m in London.
I resolved to do better. I wanted to spend some time in ''Stetson Country,'' or maybe just a night in ''Drakkar Noir.'' No sweet-smelling stuff. No cheap l'eau de Essex. Above all, NO Serpico.
I had a few hours to kill one afternoon recently. and I found myself poking about at The Shops at Liberty Place. To my right was Crabtree & Evelyn. To my left, The Body Shop.
''What´s the best seller?'' I asked the shop assistant at The Body Shop.
"Until recently,'' she said, ''it was´Activist.´ But we´ve just introduced ´Of a Man,´ and it´s really taken off. Would you like to try the tester?''
The price? Activist was $14.95 for a 3.5-ouncer. Somehow, I wasn´t surprised that Of a Man was more expensive, $20 for less, 3.4 ounces. Nice bottle.
At Crabtree, the prices jumped. "Sienna,'' at $35 for a 4.4-ounce flacon, said it all. "Take me home,'' it said. I did.
Arriving at Heathrow a few days later with a face full of Sienna, I was sure that my loved one at the time would be duly impressed. By the fragrance. By the price. Even by the bottle.
Not so fast, pal. At work today, I´m wearing ''Grey Flannel.'' Not the threads. But aftershave, my welcome-home gift.