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smells like a dad

Every day is father’s day in my house. That’s my line and I’m sticking to it.

Unfortunately, there is an actual Father’s Day on the calendar, and it’s Sunday, June 16, and if your husband is like mine, he’s been dropping hints about his gift for a solid month.

To be fair, Tom stopped dropping hints when we got our last Amex bill. Now he drags a huge imaginary cross across the floor saying things like “I don’t need presents,” or alternatively, “We can’t afford presents.” The latter is particularly cutting because the implication is that we can’t afford presents because I spent all our money on fripperies. Wait, where was I going with this post?

Right, Father’s Day. It’s in the works. Tom requested a ratchet set, so I’m working on that, even though every time I buy tools for Tom I feel the money would be better spent as kindling for a bonfire. When we first got married Tom bought a bunch of tools at Home Depot. I remember an orbit sander, in particular. He sanded a lot of stuff for a while, down to the nub. Today, despite the fact that he never uses his own tools, he continues to light up when he hears about the tools of others. “Wait,” he asked our neighbor Bill last night, while taking out the trash and discussing (theoretical) shelf-building, “You have a chainsaw?”


Tom’s not getting a damn chainsaw for Father’s Day. He’s getting a ratchet set, as soon as I figure out exactly what that is, and assuming Amazon Prime sells it. And then he’s getting some cologne.

Tom has come a long way in his personal grooming. When I first met him I would watch in horror as he would wash his face with soap and then strip it with cotton balls soaked with Kiehl’s astringent. That was it. No moisturizer, no after shave, no nothing. The cotton balls would leave little puffs of cotton residue on his dry, thirsty face. I have no idea where he learned to do that, but it was less a skincare regimen than an exercise in self-flagellation.

He’s come a long ways, my Tom. But he’s always dismissed cologne as an unnecessary step in his grooming. And you might agree. But scent is a dangerously powerful thing. My first boyfriend wore Obsession, an ambitious choice for an 18-year old, but the scent of it on his skin has left an imprint on my brain and I can’t shake it no matter how hard I try. And don’t get me started on Drakkar Noir. My love of Drakkar Noir and the songs of Nickelback are the two things that most negatively impact my self-regard, but the heart wants what it wants.

Anyway, Tom seems to want some cologne. A few weeks ago, while we were getting ready to go out, he grabbed a scent out of my hand and spritzed it on himself. It was amusing the first time, but then he kept doing it. I love Tom but there’s a chance that the cologne could smell better on him than me, and I can’t have that. So I’m on the hunt. To find Tom’s signature scent. Something that makes him smell like this:

More or less, anyway. I’ve admired this ad for years but I fear that M7 may not be the cologne for Tom. The ad copy promises that M7 embodies “male sensuality,” but I don’t know if anyone at Tom’s office needs to experience that. I’ll probably go with something cleaner, more bracing. I’m soliciting recommendations. Please help.

57 Comments Post a comment
  1. Xandersaw #

    Justin bieber’s Believe??????

    August 4, 2013
  2. Julie #

    Who are all these guys wearing scents?? love it. And skin regimes? Be still my heart.
    My high school dances were awash with ‘Polo’ by Raph Lauren. Dark green bottle. Used copiously, natch, and the clouds of it in the gym used to make my eyes water. My guy’s scent is eau de laundry detergent & mennen deodorant.
    And him, all mixed in. I love it, actually. I keep a dirty shirt of his around when he is away.
    And, the cheapo but life time guaranteed ratchet set is just about the most favorite gift I have ever given him. He thanks me earnestly every time he uses it.
    Love your blog, btw. How have I not thought to hide in my car???

    June 12, 2013
    • I have bought my grandpa many of those dark green bottles. I agree that men can smell best with nothing but soap and deodorant. But that gets so boring! I’m writing this from my car, which is parked outside my gym. So now I’m hiding from my workout

      June 12, 2013
  3. My boyfriend wears Acqua Di Gio and it’s amazing.

    June 10, 2013
    • my friend Whitney gave me a sample of it and I wiped it on Tom yesterday. He says it’s not him, as if he would even know. We have other samples

      June 12, 2013
  4. The guy in that picture looks like he smells like tacos, or sour cream.

    Like the pic of the power washer. There are few things more manly than a power washer. I mean, it’s a hose with an engine. Tough to beat.

    …chainsaw might beat it though.

    June 6, 2013
    • He smells like money and dreams. A hose with an engine indeed. All I know is it’s stripped a lot of paint, in addition to moss, off our porch

      June 12, 2013
  5. This made me laugh and I remember a kid in 8th grade that put on drakkar noir after PE. He was a total badass, probably slept with a teacher or something. Embarrassingly, I actually have different colognes that I wear in the summer and winter. Right now I have some Tommy Bahama Very Cool but I like to think my signature scent is more sawdust and chainsaw oil. Great post!

    June 5, 2013
    • he totally slept with a teacher, and i’m pretty sure my preteen self would have fallen for him, hard. tom’s signature scent is highlighters

      June 5, 2013
      • That was funnier than anything I will read today. Sorry, Tom. (He probably prefers you at least refer to it as Sharpie Accent)

        June 5, 2013
  6. Terre D’Hermes by Hermes for Men on Tuesday and Thursdays. Hanae Mori HIM on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. So we can smell amazingly fab together at work. Choke out entire hallways and corridors with our scents and offend those with olfactory sensitivities.

    June 4, 2013
  7. texasdeb #

    Oh me oh my – you got me thinking waaaaay back to my very first olfactorily supported crush. He was a ginger and he wore an “affordable” cologne called Hai Karate (gah I’m dating myself here) which had as the central premise that it made men smell so good they’d have to literally fight off the women. Mostly teenaged boys wore it and I never noted any of them putting up much of a struggle. Oh, the 60’s….

    More recently I’ve gifted the Hub (who has a tendency to douse himself rather thoroughly so we stick to the lighter scents) with Varvatos “Vintage” (cuz he is OLD like I am) and Zegna which has a nice clean finishthat plays well with work situations.

    June 4, 2013
    • GAH i love this comment! Hai Karate!!! Why have I never heard of this cologne before? Maybe I can get some for my boys, who never simply move their arms when they can karate chop them instead. I’m getting a lot of recs for John Varvatos colognes. And Zegna might be good since he wears Zegna suits…goddamn I love my blog, it’s so helpful sometimes

      June 4, 2013
  8. Creed! Millesime Imperial, Green Irish Tweed, Silver Mountain Water.

    June 4, 2013
    • the names are so evocative. how fun a job would that be? coming up with perfume names

      June 4, 2013
  9. My husband Lawrence won’t do anything for his face (aftershave, etc.) because his sister once told him that he has great skin — so any help you can offer about persuading a guy to tone/moisturize would be great.

    For scents, I would recommend Paul Smith. 🙂

    June 3, 2013
    • it’s benign comments from well-meaning sisters that will mess things up for life. i have no advice except to lead by example. eventually he will reach for some of your lotion, hopefully?

      June 4, 2013
      • Loretta #

        Thanks, Yoona. I know you only give Michael sensible feedback, so I’ll assume that my SIL meant to do the same.
        You’re right — I’ll put my lotion within reach, or perhaps employ the ultimate bomb (daughter) if things become truly dire.

        June 4, 2013
  10. There are some delicious scents for men from:www. I recommend getting the tester kit for surya collection. I especially like Sunset, a blend of hina attar (a woodsy, spicy blend extracted with sandalwood), palo santo, cedar,sandalwood,ginger and bergamot essential oils. This is a blend I like to wear as a woman. Better than any artificial benzene extracted cologne. You could even take drops of this essential oil blend and combine it with Rum (yes the alcohol) and put in a beautiful bottle and give it to him. A bottle of Sunset is about $25 much cheaper then the department store brands and much better. I react to the synthetics and have no issues with pure essential oils. If you decide you want a bottle of this blend, put “drtooba” in the checkout and get 25% discount. Let me know if you want help blending the cologne. Tooba

    June 3, 2013
  11. Nordstrom. He ought to smell like a Nordstrom.

    June 3, 2013
  12. Liz #

    John Varvatos’s “Star USA” is fantastic; my husband wears it. It’s at Sephora (and maybe Macy’s?) if you’re interested in smelling it (plus, an excuse for you to go shopping, too!).

    June 3, 2013
  13. I can’t give you cologne advice. I just like body wash that leaves a light scent. I am allergic to colognes! I can tell you all about chainsaws! I goty hubby one for Christmas. He uses it though. For ratchet sets that may sit around a craftsman set would be fine. It’s a guy thing. They feel manly if they get tools whether they use them or not. And they can lend them out and look cool if they have them.

    June 3, 2013
  14. shoe #

    Also, please remind Tom I trademarked Orange Crocs back in 2004. He should expect a letter from my attorney.

    June 3, 2013
  15. shoe #

    Aqua di Parma. Mario’s.

    June 3, 2013
  16. I LOVE your blog!

    June 3, 2013
  17. Dorothy #

    I love a guy with Chanel Platinum Egoiste. Havlin wears it and smiles every time, as if it were his idea to begin with!!

    If Tom wants to start slow, go with Gendarme. Or, Neroli Portofino by Tom Ford. I have both in the fridge if you want to come by for a tester!

    June 3, 2013
    • I love neroli portfolio. Also Hermes jardin sur le Nile. We are vibing

      June 3, 2013
      • Dorothy #

        One more … and it’s also in the fridge, to be used at a later date, Vetiver by Creed. Very nice.

        June 3, 2013
  18. Andy M #

    Way to casually sneak a picture of Tom in crocs without comment! I died and was reborn in that picture

    June 3, 2013
    • I’ve been eager to use that picture for weeks. I may have written this post just so I could use it. May have.

      June 3, 2013
      • Andy M #

        — Especially juxtaposed with the YSL ad! The differing attributes of masculinity (pressure washer/crocs vs. copious armpit hair); how the composition implicates the viewer’s gaze (looking down on vs. look up at) in the objectification of the subject. Yours is clearly a mind finely honed by the study of art history. My bluebook runeth over at the compare-and-contrast essay I would write.

        Thanks again for your awesome posts!

        June 4, 2013
    • i love armpit hair on a man. i think of this M7 man as being designed for my gaze. he’s a male odalisque. thank you for making me realize that just now

      June 4, 2013
  19. Want me to bring something back from Paris? It won’t be before Father’s Day, but what the hell? Vesak is come and gone, but Xmas is coming.

    June 3, 2013
  20. John #

    Craftsman 100 piece ratchet set. I hate sears but they make good tools. I don’t know anything about smelling good

    June 3, 2013
    • Why does he need 100 pieces?? Gah

      June 3, 2013
      • Jrdpdx #

        Because a ratchet set needs the right sizes
        Trust me on this

        June 3, 2013
  21. Kim Holloway Kripalani #

    I am a big fan of anything Tom Ford….and of course, Tom Ford. 🙂

    June 3, 2013
    • So expensive for first outing!! M7 is Tom ford, of course. Mwa

      June 3, 2013
      • Kim Holloway #

        Nordstrom will send you home with a true (handmade) sample of anything they sell – play that right and you could be years away from a big investment. 🙂

        June 3, 2013
      • the problem with that is that in my experience, Nordstrom doesn’t stock many tom ford fragrances (perhaps because of the free samples)–black orchid, violet blonde. maybe the portofino. I was completely shocked when I saw how many there actually are in the Tom ford store in Vegas. and they all looked so damned good

        June 3, 2013
  22. My husband wears Dolce and Gabbana’s The One and I love it, but it may be a bit warmer than what you have described. I also like Kenneth Cole’s Black or Annick Goutal Hadrien. Both smell very fresh and clean (and smell great on men and women).

    June 3, 2013
    • annick goutal, brilliant. i love my petite cherie. merci

      June 3, 2013
  23. Lisa Park #

    Safari. Ralph Lauren. You get the picture.

    June 3, 2013
    • i do get the picture. and it looks a lot like robert redford in out of africa. thanks!

      June 3, 2013
  24. I’m a big fan of anything by Chanel and the Davidoff Cool Water line. I’m hardly a style icon though so I could have it all wrong.

    June 3, 2013

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