Thursday, March 25, 2010

L'Eau de Sweaty Man

I am sure it's not just me; one of my favorite smells in the world is the smell of a sweaty man. To me it is a rich, fragrant experience, which means happiness and safety. I got this way when I was very little. Two of my most important male figures in my family--my uncle and my best friend's dad--were both very fragrant men, and I loved being near them because I loved them. My own father didn't smell sweaty in this way--his was more subtle, a scent that would linger on his pillowcases and bathrobes, but you couldn't smell on his person. I associated the comfort of his presence with the smell of whiskey and Borkum Riff pipe tobacco. As I write this, I think, no wonder I like all those woody, darker scents. It's all regression, at the end of the day, or at least Herr Doktor Freud would say so!

As I got older, I--strangely enough--tended to date men who had little personal fragrance at all. My first serious longtime boyfriend did not smell unless he had been working out, but then he smelled sort of metallic, and it wasn't the same as that rich, herbaceous, clean smelling sweat I associated with the idols of my childhood. I do think I honed my nose on that boyfriend, though. I learned to smell where he had been, what kind of exercise he had been doing, and who he had been with on his skin. Don't ask.
My husband also has no discernible body odor. He can go for days without washing and still smell as clean as a soapdish. I have encouraged him off and on to quit using deodorant altogether, but he is a fastidious animal and can't seem to bear that thought. So I keep searching for the holy grail of perfumes for him, something that can simulate that supremely comforting and sublime smell of sweaty man. Perhaps YSL Pour Homme or l'Eau d'Hermes in its old formulation. Who knows. Sometimes Grey Flannel does the trick on him, especially when it is layered with other smells, like the rummy Burt's Bees aftershave, but he is reluctant to wear that one because he finds it overpowering.

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