From the old blog, April 2010.
This post is nothing without scratch-and-sniff.
Those of you who follow me on Facebook might have noticed my recent mention of a new Internet discovery:
Basenotes, a Web site devoted to news, reviews and other information related to fragrances.
I’ve been exploring it a little bit and it’s good kicky fun, kinda like how it’s a fun trip to read Vogue magazine when I’m waiting to get what’s left of my hair cut.
Both Vogue and Basenotes offer tickets to unfamiliar worlds with their own language, priorities and values.
Basenotes grants me access to an exclusive, wood-paneled drawing room where men chat quietly and knowledgeably about things like “sillage,” and layering multiple colognes, and undertones of vetiver, and which fragrances sit best on clothing as opposed to the skin.
It’s a whole new thang to me b/c I’ve only owned two fragrances in my life, neither of which I bought.
I don’t even remember the name of my current cologne, or eau de toilette, or whatever it is.
I just know my wife gave it to me, and it smells OK, and every once in a blue moon I’ll dab some on.
I do remember the first cologne I ever owned, though, and I’ve had great fun looking it up in Basenotes’ review database.
I think it was my 17th birthday, in July 1990, when my high school girlfriend bought me a big black bottle of the infamous Drakkar Noir.
Every time I put it on, my family would hold their noses and emit loud howls of outrage.
It didn’t take me long to figure out that the stuff was about as subtle as napalm, no matter how little of it I used.
(It came as no particular surprise years later when I found out Drakkar Noir is the preferred cologne of Yngwie Malmsteen, whose lead guitar style is pure musical Drakkar Noir.)
But my girlfriend liked it, which was of obvious interest to me, so I continued to wear it, at least sometimes.
I never really used it after I broke up with the chick in question.
But I kept the bottle for many years, partly as a curio, and partly because it was still at least 90 percent full even when I finally threw it out.
Like I said, it only took a little Drakkar to make a big impression.
I’ve been amused to discover that, for people my age, Drakkar Noir is positively eau de high-school petit ami.
A close female friend of ours was visiting once and saw the bottle sitting on the bathroom shelf. She exclaimed, “Drakkar Noir! My high-school boyfriend used to wear that.”
Comments from Basenotes’ user reviews bear her out:
- “I remember kids in middle school and then high school in the late 80s to mid 90s, douse themselves in this chemical mace.”
- “The gateway scent of 80s youth.”
- “So highschool!”
- “As my girlfriend says “It smells like the 80s”. “
- “This takes me back to junior high where the upcoming jocks would wear, nay, saturate themselves with this.”
- “i received a sample in the mail with a cologne purchase. i sprayed a bit in the air and i could have sworn my good friend from high school was standing right behind me.”
- “I wore this powerhouse when I was in college in the late 80s, and I didn’t give a damn what it smelled like – the only reason I wore it was because women loved it. I haven’t worn this in about 17 years, but I remember it being ridiculously strong, with obnoxious sillage.”
Yeah, I didn’t take part in a whole lot of ’80s trends.
But when it came to masculine reek, I was on the cutting edge.