The Scents Which Define Us

British Sterling

British SterlingI guess one has to be a bit older to have scents define your person or “take you home again.” Presumably you would have to be old enough to have left home in the first place. We have a bit of a timey-whimey thing going on with this post as I’m writing it in December 2016 but you won’t see it until the following spring. With my holiday shopping done I was shopping a bit for myself. Basically stocking up on my British Sterling original, which is getting to be more and more difficult to find. I used to wait until after the holidays an stock up on the gift sets, but the version which comes in those plastic bottles always smells like some North Korean knock-off bottled by someone who thinks pure skunk pee smells good.

My first exposure to British Sterling came when I was a young lad over at my grandmother’s house. That particular grandfather had passed away the year I was born so I never met him. For whatever reason that day while helping grandmother do something we came across a box of his stuff which had a part bottle of British Sterling in it. Smelled kind of good and grandma let me have it. Being so young I had very little use for cologne and no use for aftershave but I would wear it when I went somewhere.

BRUTThen came my early teen years. Like so many then I was into “the smell of BRUT an the punch of Ali.” Those of you who remember that stage of life should rent “Avenging Angelo” because it is a running nostalgic gag throughout the movie.

Various relatives would give me things they though smelled nice as holiday gifts. I remember not being able to wait for that bottle of Chaz cologne to be used up. I nearly threw it out. Probably should have. It irritated my allergies and only attracted women which wouldn’t (and didn’t) age well. While I can find the brand I cannot find the same color in the odd shaped clear bottle, perhaps they changed?

As you go through life various girlfriends try to change you to be their definition of “a man.” Few things ruin a man faster than a girl who mistakenly thinks she is a woman. A woman finds an off-the-rack man she comfortable with and chooses him for a long rewarding life together. A girl keeps trying to custom tailor men in an off-the-rack world leading to a long life of turbulent relationships and a series of divorces.

That little piece of wisdom came to a head when I was in my late twenties or early thirties. I was drug to “the mall” by a girl I was dating. There are few things worse than being drug to “the mall.” I couldn’t schedule emergency root canal without Novocaine so to “the mall” I was drug. After what felt like 40+ years I didn’t even realize she had pulled me into a Victoria’s Secrets shop. Was she buying a present for me? Noooooo. She needed some body lotion and wanted to know what fragrance I liked.

I looked down at a table which seemed to have 100 or more bottles of lotion and thought we were going to be here for another 40+ years. Even offering to buy a present for me to open later wasn’t going to make up for this. I looked her in the eye and told her “Victoria’s Secrets has only one worthwhile smell and that is ‘Her Majesty’s Rose.’”

She looked at the teen-something girl staffing the lotion table and asked if they had any ‘Her Magesty’s Rose.’ The teen-something responded “We used to have this group of little old ladies who came in here every week buying that stuff but, thankfully, they have stopped production of it and we no longer have it.” The girlfriend of the time turned to look at me somewhat suspecting this teen-something had stepped on a land mine while pulling the pin on a grenade. I didn’t disappoint. In a voice loud enough for both of them to hear, and probably a few nosey patrons I responded “Well, every other scent Victoria’s Secret has smells like raw sewage so get what you want, just don’t wear it around me.”

I don’t remember which had the look of shock, but the other had the look of mortification. The teen-something quickly recovered and tried pitching whatever they were supposed to pitch that week. They asked me to smell something which reeked and started to trigger my allergies. Finally I looked the teen-something in the eye and told her “Those little old ladies knew something you young girls don’t. How to keep the same man putting his feet under her table and shoes under her bed for 40+ years. They all wore ‘Her Majesty’s Rose.’” Then I waited outside the store. Last I heard the teen-something whose name I don’t remember racked up at least 2 divorces before turning 30. It’s okay to live life for one’s self, just don’t expect others to come along for the journey.

By the time the above scene played out I had long since returned to wearing British Sterling. Despite people buying me pricey things to wear from H2O and whatever smell shop was trendy at the time, I stuck with it. Any time I ran into a younger female at a client site or a bar I would invariably get a comment about “what is that you’re wearing? It smells really light but really good too.”

Recently I ended up ordering some of the after shave balm. As one gets older the winter tends to dry the face a bit making the blade do a bit more damage. I had tried stuff from NIVEA and Gillette. They worked but I didn’t care for the smell. Sadly the shave balm in the original British Sterling fragrance has gotten almost impossible to get.

H.I.M.Oh, I should probably check on who is running DANA (makers of British Sterling) now. I bet it is that teen-something girl from Victoria’s Secrets. They seem to have bastardized the British Sterling name with this H.I.M. stuff. I tried a bottle of that in 2016. The black bottle if it is different from the white bottle. I left it in the hotel I was staying in and not by accident.

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