Who Am I and What Should I Smell Like?
Credit: Photograph by Chris Buck
Actually, I was kind of besotted with myself – not with me, exactly, I've never been a big fan of me – but me wicked in Harrods Swarovski LE was a different story. I'd been hit with a last-call-at-the-bar sudden self-regard. And while I've always been a timid little woodchuck in public, all of a sudden I wanted to be noticed in the worst way. I wanted people to get a whiff of me and tell me how great I smelled, because I do smell great, I know I smell great, but I want to hear it from the outside world. And so out I went, to CVS, to Stop & Shop, to Matunuck Surf Shop, to the Narragansett Beach sea wall, to watering holes of all kinds, me all spruced up and ready to receive compliments. Only, I got nothing from nobody, nothing good, nothing bad. I even went so far as to start greeting my girlfriend's girlfriends with bear hugs – I hate hugging, I never do it – pulling them in tight, but all they did was crawfish away and later on complain that I was acting creepy. The fact that I couldn't draw a compliment really frustrated and angered me. I went online and found that, in fact, I wasn't alone in this regard. Lots of guys have that problem, and the solution, most often, is just to wear more. Made sense, so next time out, I did as advised: two shots to each pectoral muscle, two to the middle of the chest, two to each side of my neck, and two to the crook of each elbow. And one final one for my corduroy-clad nethers. Just in case. But still, nothing.

Then, one day, I happened to spend a few hours in the presence of famous actor and bon-vivant ladies' man George Clooney, who is a well-known Green Irish Tweed fan (not that he needs a panty dropper, of course) and a guy who would undoubtedly take note of the genius on my skin and make comment. I hung close to his side in his house, in his garden, in his office. I had the stuff laid on so thick it's a wonder he could even see me through the haze. But he said nothing. I couldn't figure out why. Clearly, he had to smell it. Just as clearly, he had to love it. I started to get a little agitated. My time was up. He was showing me to the door, his friendly little cocker spaniel buzzing around my ankles. We shook hands. And then I couldn't help myself. I shoved my neck at him, said something about cologne, and demanded to know what he thought of what I had on.

Clooney took a step back and said, "Well, do you like it?"

I said, "Yup, I love it."

Clooney smiled his easygoing Clooney smile. "Then that's all that matters."

What the hell kind of thing is that to say? What does that even mean? I spent countless hours on the flight back home trying to parse his words. They riddled me with anxiety. I told my girlfriend about it, and her response was, "Would you be offended if I asked you to take a shower before you came to bed tonight? You smell like airplane, B.O., and dirty Band-Aids."

In the end, I decided that maybe Harrods wasn't so great after all, that I needed a new signature scent, that Clooney can go to hell, and that one of my larger problems is that my little slice of Rhode Island heaven is filled mainly with beach-town derelicts and surfers, none of whom would know their oud from a hole in the ground. What a bunch of knuckleheads.