By Jerry Zezima
The Stamford Advocate
Over the years, readers of this column have often remarked that I stink. Even though I haven't taken a bath since the 1960s (a morning shower is how I stay clean and fresh), I have never taken this personally. Still, as a sensitive modern man with an uncanny ability to sniff out trouble, I recently went to Bloomingdale's in New York City for a fragrance consultation.
My wife, Sue, who always smells good, and who buys my cologne because she knows which kind masks the odor of beer, accompanied me on this olfactory adventure.
After a quick detour to the jewelry department, where the diamonds made Sue swoon and the prices caused me to break out in a cold sweat that made a splash of cologne imperative, we arrived at the men's counter and were greeted by a pair of very nice fragrance specialists named Jaime Mancera and Sheresa Rohoman.
"What brand do you use now?" asked Mancera, a sophisticated young man from Colombia with a charming accent, movie-star looks and a jet-black ponytail.
"Eau de Heineken," I replied.
Rohoman, a beautiful young woman from Guyana, giggled. "I can smell it from here," she said from behind the counter.
I obviously needed help. Mancera started handing me these little fragrance-imbued cards so I could sniff them to see if they made scents.
"They smell beautiful," I said as my nose began to run.
When Sue said that she wears Beautiful by Estee Lauder, Rohoman remarked, "With patchouli."
"Gesundheit!" I said.
"No, silly," Rohoman replied. "It contains patchouli, which is a flower."
"If I smelled like a flower, it would be stinkweed," I said, noting that I once created my own signature fragrance, which I called Zez. Going for a scent both flowery and manly, I included beer, barbecue sauce, some grass and evergreen clippings and a few drops of a lily of the valley and peppermint mixture I had received in the mail. I put them all in a blender. The result was putrid.
"I don't think I have ever smelled anything that bad," Sue recalled.
Mancera suggested that I leave signature fragrances to the professionals, such as Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein and Paul Smith.
"Paul Smith?" I said. "Who's he?"
"An English fashion designer," Mancera answered.
"Sounds like some guy who uses the name on hotel registries," I said.
Rohoman said Smith probably does stay in a lot of hotels but that he's a big name nonetheless.
"Especially in Europe," she added.
"I've never been to Europe," I noted. "I guess he's never heard of me, either."
"I'm sure he would love to meet you," said Mancera, who sprayed the back of my right hand with Paul Smith Story. "It just arrived today," he said. "It's very popular. In fact, I'm wearing it."
"How could it be popular if it just arrived?" I asked.
Mancera ignored the question and said, "What do you think?"
I sniffed my hand. It had a nice touch of citrus. Sue liked the fragrance, too.
"That's one of your pulse points," said Rohoman, adding that another one, which should also be sprayed, is on the back of my neck.
"So I'll smell good even if I'm being followed?" I inquired.
"Exactly," she said.
I tried other fragrances, including Sunset by Escada, Eau Fraiche by Versace and another Paul Smith creation, Extreme. I also sampled V by Valentino, which Mancera said was "more aggressive," adding that it is meant to be worn at night. To which I replied, "I'm usually sitting in front of the TV at night, trying to stay awake for the 11 o'clock news."
"I think you should stick to the lighter stuff," said Mancera, who sold me a 1.7-ounce bottle of Paul Smith Story, which cost $50 and which Sue kindly paid for.
Maybe I'll make another batch of Zez and send a bottle to Paul Smith. Then he can smell like beer.
Copyright 2007 by Jerry Zezima