Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Ode to the Pheromone

I love the scent of a man as much as the next woman. Perhaps more so. You can tell so much with a deep whiff – just like burying your nose in the midsection of an ancient book. Where have you been? Has it been a hard life? What’s your story? And what’s the latest trend? Are you more than your cover reveals?

Even in middle school when most boys smelled like Doritos, gym socks, and Gak, I was convinced that their scent was one of the most powerful forms of subconscious relating. It got even better once they started wearing deodorant. Perhaps I was just ahead of my time, but social cues indicated otherwise as my peers started wearing nauseatingly noticeable layers of perfume and eyeliner. I tried to follow suit – dabbing perfume from the tester packets in magazines or from small gifts by family members desperate to see me put down my softball glove and take some level of interest in my femininity. But nothing ever seemed to be the right fit for me – I always came out the other end smelling like an old china cabinet. Even more frustrating was how to find a good scent with my chemical compositions changing every half an hour. One time I tried Olive Tree and Eucalyptus oil in the store and by the time I got home I smelled just like a Tootsie Roll.

In addition to keeping up with perfumes’ scent-shifting, it was also a constant question of ‘how much is too much?’ Should you smell me on the street? Should you smell me after gym? Should you smell me while I swim? Far more complicated than I cared to waste my precious time on, I abandoned scents altogether for myself, but just as art appreciation lives on with the artist, I never gave up on deep breathing around a good dose of pheromones.

I want to return now to one of the pivotal questions that stumped me and ultimately cut my relationship with perfumes and colognes as a youth – a question for which I never found an answer and that, I have noticed living in Jerusalem, can last into adulthood for a large sector of the population. Take, for example, the gentleman in my building whose fragrant scent lingers like breadcrumbs leading him home at the end of a long day. He seems to share my cosmic query: how much is too much?

Or actually, does he even know to ask the question? Maybe he has no strong role model or close friend with any sense of smell whatsoever or common courtesy for the public space to guide the way.  And that is why I am writing here today – to finally and decisively close this mystery from my childhood:

I can decisively ascertain that if your aftershave can curl under my front door, through my home and into my kitchen to mask the scent of my brewing coffee as you make your way down our stairwell, then you are absolutely, 100% no-question hands-down wearing too much cologne.

I feel truly vindicated and want to shout my discovery to the world. I want to slip this open letter under the door of my neighbor. On the one hand, I feel like it would be a service to society. On the other hand, what if he doesn’t see quantity with the same certainly and absoluteness that I do? Or what if he is using his musk to lure a potential lady friend from the next neighborhood over?  What if he has a long-lost lover whom he is trying to woo back across sands of time and the Negev to our little jungley enclave in the city? That’s a lot of street musk and camel pee to cross and certainly necessitates the three extra spritzes now donned upon his neck and nether-regions.

But! That brings up another question: what if, just as birth control can alter your hormones and actually change the men you are attracting (that’s real – look it up), this poor soul is masking his uniquely sexy pheromones with corporate (albeit delicious) olfactory homogeneity that puts him in direct biological competition with Ashton Kutcher and Justin Beiber? That’s science. These are the things I worry about as I choke on the indecision to inhale his manly, trite-but-never-tired Axe or gag on his aromatic overindulgence. But I will say – my dear neighbor, your audacity smells divine and I wish you all the best in attracting a mate – hopefully from very, very far away.