“Sacre Bleu!!!”

One of the things that used to drive your friendly bartender nuts, along with those um-teen other things he’s chronicled over the years, like a credit card payment for just one drink or a stranger asking, “What do you recommend?”, is when someone takes a seat at the bar and gags those already there with the perfume they’re wearing. And that goes for women too! Because dudes can stink up a joint as well with fancy sprays and colognes, and I have no qualms about telling those people what for. While fanning my nose and squinting my eyes I might lean into some guy and say (with a smile on my face, of course), “I assume you’d like a nice French wine because you, my friend, smell like a French Whorehouse!” Or simply, “I’ll take your order in a second, man, once I can see through the haze.” But with women I’d usually let the thing slide unless she’s a pal and can take it, as her perfume might’ve been a gift from a beau and who am I to rain on her “Charade”? But the fact remains I’m keeping my distance from either.

But all that having been said, dear reader, your friendly bartender also knows what it’s like to stink up the joint, to be the dreaded stink-er and not the stink-ee. And I blame the French for that.

Now before I go any further here, I’m not a member of the French bashing crowd who thought it was cute and patriotic to order Freedom Fries, I’m not in third grade. I like the French and I love their zest for life. But here the French are clearly to blame or at least a cadre of scientists closely aligned with them, for it’s they who must’ve assented as one, “Oui, oui, monsieur!” after sniffing their latest concoction. Which is called Old Spice. That’s right Old Spice! That revered and classic after shave whose slogan once jauntily echoed in song, “Look for the package with the ship that sails the ocean,” must’ve done just that… “sailed the ocean”! And to France for heaven sakes, if not in actual relocation then olfactory authorization, which I will gladly get to after this back story…

I’ve been using Old Spice (the after shave never the cologne), since peach fuzz first appeared on my cheeks my freshman year in college or shortly before that. Which is back when dinosaurs had the run of the land. And except for a few foolish forays into popular concoctions back then… exotic “Jade East” and “Canoe” for two, then English Leather my sophomore year when me and a few fraternity brothers literally gutted a room with the cloud that trailed us… Old Spice has been my chosen brand forever. And that of every man in my family before me. The name was almost eponymous for what it was. Like if you had a runny nose back then you didn’t go out and buy tissue you bought Kleenex. Or if you had to ease that post shave burn and wanted to smell like a man, you didn’t go out and buy “after shave” you bought Old Spice. And women, up until now, seemed to enjoy it. A few months back while standing in a bar a young woman standing next to me asked what I had on. She liked the smell of it. And I told her jokingly, “It’s new, it’s called Old Spice.” “Hmmm,” she said, leaning in for a closer whiff, til those all around her chuckled and gave me away. But the point is the stuff’s still passes after all these years. At least for me.

So the other morning I opened a new bottle, slapped some onto my cheeks, then noticed some curious writing staring back at me. All in French. Where it used to say “Original” it now had the word “Classique”. And where it used to say, “After Shave”, it now had the words “Apres Rasage” to replace them. “Well Sacre bleu, Depardieu! Qu’est-ce que c’est, mon frere? Should I be wearing a beret when I leave the house?” Or worse, “Should I leave the house at all, smelling like a trollop?” Because after I splashed this crap on my face, liberally as per usual, my eyes began to water after applying it. And not just because of the pungency factor, which believe me was considerable, but because another American tradition (just like real Levis) had gone down the drain. Probably forever.

But hey, I did have some errands to run that morning so I took my brand new scent out the door for a test drive.

Maybe it was just paranoia on my part but standing in line at Food Emporium watching the woman in front of me turn and look at me, as if to ask “Why in the hell so much of it???”, made me surmise my reek had entered her check-out space. And maybe it was just my shrinking self esteem in a bank line moments later, that caused me to have a similar pang when the woman in front of me made her own u-turn. I felt like I was a walking, talking stink bomb. And even after I got back home and tried to wash it off with soap and water, just like the gang on Seinfeld when they couldn’t get rid of the funk they got from that cab ride, a tinge of this stuff still lingered on my hands and upper lip. This wasn’t a brand new scent, this was a stigma!

And the worst part of all (save for the fact that Old Spice is no more!), I was thinking of having some lunch that day at a pub just up the road, but I didn’t want the friendly bartender there to ask if I’d like a nice French wine with my meal, so I passed. And you think you have problems!

Au revoir, mon ami, see you on The Seine…

15 Responses to ““Sacre Bleu!!!””

  1. 1 Comradde PhysioProffe March 22, 2013 at 11:46 pm

    They really fucked uppe the Old Spice formula?!?!?!

  2. 2 scribbler50 March 23, 2013 at 8:52 am

    Comradde: Like you wouldn’t believe!

  3. 3 Thomas Fitzsimmons March 23, 2013 at 9:01 am

    “That’s nice cologne you bathed in,” is what I’ve gasped to many an old timer who stunk up a pub, church pew, or even worse, an elevator. As my nephews have told me, colognes, like blow dryers went out back in 70s–“It’s an old guy thing.” Another issue: shake hands with someone wearing roach spry strong aftershave, and your hand will stink for all eternity. No way to wash it off, except, my nephews claim, with toothpaste. Toothpaste? Oy vey.

  4. 4 scribbler50 March 23, 2013 at 10:19 am

    Thomas Fitzsimmons: I know the dif brtween cologne and after shave, I made the mistake a few years ago of buying cologne by mistake and stunk for days. Thing is… this new (Old Spice) after shave formula smells a lot like that old cologne only acridly, putridly worse.

    Toothpast, huh? So I’ll brush my teeth with my fingers!

  5. 5 Alex Gregg March 23, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    This story STINKS…..

  6. 6 Alex Gregg March 23, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    In a GOOD way

  7. 7 scribbler50 March 23, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    Alex: And so does your comment, my friend, in a better way!

  8. 8 BlondeAmbition March 23, 2013 at 11:58 pm

    I thought I was the only one who held my breath around these clueless stink bombs! And women shouldn’t be spared — their bad scent choices are often as bad as men. The worst is when your coat is checked next to one of the offenders.

  9. 9 scribbler50 March 24, 2013 at 10:02 am

    Blonde Ambition: No, you’re obviously not alone in the “breath holding” department, and yes certain women are guilty too. I once had a customer, a long time acquaintance, whose perfume was so pungent it literally dominated the bar even after she left. If its purpose was to allure it only repelled! So I teased her about it at first, good naturedly of course, then one particularly reeking night I said, “Look, you know we love you but if you know we’re one of your stops when you’re out making the rounds, either drop us from the list or lose that perfume. I can’t take it anymore.” And that ended it. Not her patronization but that perfume.

    Thanks for your strong comment, B.A., and the good news is, spring is around the corner… no checking coats!

  10. 10 Irishirritant March 26, 2013 at 11:53 am

    ack! I have resorted to the old Bob Newhart schtick…2 words…STOP IT!
    Thankfully I am rarely trapped in an oderous corner. whew, how irritating!
    Good Luck, and thanks again for the astute observations.

  11. 11 scribbler50 March 26, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    Irish: Your welcome, my friend, and lucky, you’ve found an odor-free corner.
    Take care…

  12. 12 Freddy March 27, 2013 at 8:23 am

    Well done man! I have to add, that the worst for me is those folks who insist on seemingly BATHING in aromatic oil (e.g., patchouli) or whatever. Stinks up the whole place SO bad, I can smell them from 20ft away. As they get closer, I clench up so bad I can barely breath.

  13. 13 scribbler50 March 27, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    Freddy: Thanks, man, and well done on your part too for getting interviewed on HuffPost. Very cool.

    Also… I saw your “Enemy #1” post where you ripped into Kyle Smith from the New York Post. Well done a second time, my friend! When I read his column that Sunday morning I sent off a scathing e-mail to that first class asshole. I’ve debated Mr. Smith in the past, back and forth via e-mail, about how he injects his right wing politics into just about every movie review he does, but this time he didn’t get back to me and no wonder. That shit he wrote about his restaurant experience was way beyond the pale even for him!

    Thanks for the comment and keep up the good work!

  14. 14 Anonymoustache April 1, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    Too bad they messed with the Old Spice formula…it was an old reliable. They haven’t messed with English Leather though…I got a small bottle of it in my stocking this Xmas. Hadn’t used it in a long time and enjoyed having it back….guess Santa’s trying to tell me something…;-)

  15. 15 scribbler50 April 1, 2013 at 10:00 pm

    Anonymoustache: Yeah, let’s blame it on Santa, HE thinks you need it!.
    Welcome back, Bro!

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