do real men smell of old spice?
a friend commented yetserday about how he thought–“and don’t think i’m being sexist here”, he said–that a most manly smell was that of the old spice cologne. he described it as being ‘just right’ manly, neither too showy nor too weak, it seemed to him SMELL just the ideal manly qualities. I’ve heard of synaesthesia: you can smell moonlight in poetry, but here we are: somehow smelling social values, characteristics of personality.
Just the right kind of man: strong but not showy, neither understated. and yes, i confess, somwhere, even i tend to think so when i sniff oldspice. but i know that it has a deeper association in my own life that might prompt this reading. Dad.
I’ve grown up seeing my father use that beautiful white bottle every day. And when i hugged him, there was always that dadsmell: his sweat with oldspice. And interestingly, dad has always seemed to value (and act upon) the model of the ‘just right’ man my friend was talking about. Was it then this association with dad that made it easy for me to accept my friend’s opinion: that real, balanced manly smells of oldspice?
Or, was my dad using oldspice in the first place because he thought so? was my dad’s association of the smell with the value:
1- a gut feeling?
2- a socialised association with the smell (did he see someone he admired as a man–maybe his dad–use it?)?
3- a socialised association appearing as a gut feeling (like my friend who ‘felt’ it was so) ?
How do we associate smells with certain qualities? is it mere conditioning? or do we have some kind of evolutionary, pheromonal instinct?
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