Sunday, 25 February 2007

"The Scent of a Man" published February 25

I’ve often boasted that if I was blindfolded I could pick my husband out of a line-up simply by my unique sense of smell. I would need to smell all over you understand, but I would be looking for a sense of mahogany. An earthy combination of old smoke, sensible soap and the merest hint of cognac on his breath. A smell I suspect enjoyed it’s full bloom in the 50s when men smoked a pack a day, washed with Sunlight soap and brushed their teeth with salt. I imagine they also wore corduroy pants with pleats at the waist, tweed jackets with leather patches on the elbows and read Swift in their armchairs by the fire while the faithful Labrador lounged at his feet.
Exactly why I would ever need to pick my husband out of a line-up whilst blindfolded remains unclear. Perhaps he was arrested for smoking in a non-smoking restaurant and I wasn’t blindfolded I was actually blind following a recent accident involving a volatile combination of baking soda and vinegar to clean the toilet. Or perhaps Julie Christie has persuaded us to take part in a new reality series called “Sniff Him or Die.” Or something along those lines. And actually if I was close enough to sniff my husband from top to toe I’m thinking he’d be unable to resist a slap on the arse or that stroke on the back of my neck he does which would give the game away, and now it’s all getting a bit porno fantasy land and I need to get back to the topic of smell.
Men and their smells are as important in the rules of attraction as men and good shoes, men and a sense of humour or men and the ability to buy roses on Valentine’s Day.
Scientists will tell you that if a man doesn’t smell right it doesn’t matter how much you want to like him you’ll just never want to get within smelling distance which kind of prohibits a sex life. So finding his scent is an art I feel I must share for the sake of relationship perfection everywhere. There are three spots, each emitting a very different aroma, but like a good perfume each is an essential note of the man fragrance.
The top note is the sexiest smell a man can have, and unfortunately our modern metros spend most of their lives trying to wash it away. His sweat. Only the most prudish woman will deny that a good whiff of an armpit after his workout at the gym or a bout chopping the firewood is quite moreish. Not that you’d want to smear it on your pocket handkerchief and whiff it all day, but it’s tantalising and suggestive all in one whiff.
Sweat must not, however be confused with BO which is that same sweat going off, rotting, turning into something very unclean and disgusting. So the lesson here is to get it fresh. Straight off the rugby field, the golf course, but perhaps not the fishing trip, especially if he’s got a good haul and been doing a bit of fish gutting.
Then there’s the hair line. As long as he’s a real man and doesn’t steal your shampoo there will always be a distinctive identifier of your man around the nape of his neck. This is the maternal smell, not dissimilar to the one we mothers associate with that first primal whiff or our new baby’s head. It’s a soft smell, the one you find on his pillow after he gets up in the morning. Totally free of any stray Gucci or Calvin Klein. Just him from the roots up so to speak.
You have to travel further for the next smell which starts at the navel and really comes into its own as you head south. Musk is the predominate note here and let’s just say that like sweat there are varying stages of musk. The nice sweet version or the stale cheese-like smell which tells you he hasn’t had a good wash down there for a while. But when it’s fresh and musky there is nothing quite so overpowering and likely to glaze your eyes and make you go a bit silly.
And there you have it, your man’s essential perfume, made fresh every day, and just for you. If you’re not sure you’ve ever quite grasped the full three notes all at once then wait until he’s asleep, lift the sheets and have a good old sniff (providing he’s not a bed farter).
The smell you receive is the one you can safely copyright and know that in a line-up, you’ll be able to pick him out blindfolded …or something like that.

No comments: