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Friday, August 11, 2006

From the Mouths of Husbands - Mr. Colombina Takes the Test

Hey, where are all the protestors?
You know ... testing perfumes on innocent animals, like me?

Asking me to participate in a blind perfume test is like asking me my opinion on French poetry or feminist literature. In the sense that I can recognize what it is (perfume, Froggy rhymes, chick lit etc.) but have not the insight, inclination, nor (being honest here) interest to examine it further. It’s a bit like sudoku. I understand the concept, but don’t feel the need to actually solve the puzzle.

But I am always one to give it a go … so why not? I always enjoy a little friendly competition … you know … amateur Jell-O wrestling, spring break banana eating contests, full contact backgammon … that sort of thing

I am not sure whether this is actually a contest between Mr. Aromascope and myself to see who gets more perfumes ‘correct’ in the sense of identifying the ingredients. I certainly hope we’re not expecting me to actually ‘NAME THAT PERFUME’. I am taking this more in fun as I suspect it was intended. Though if Todd DOES beat me, I’ll challenge him to an arm wrestle, burping contest or perhaps a chugging event.

OK … sample number one and … YUCK this was awful! I think I’ve been poisoned. Someone call 911! This was wretchedly nauseating. It tasted like paint thinner mixed with nail polish remover! What Colombina? It’s not a TASTE test? Oh … errr … umm … never mind.

Colombina applied a little on my right wrist. I decided to do this, I should just go with my first instincts … well a little beyond my usual, “yup, that’s perfume alright” instincts. It took a little while before anything came through but my first instincts said, “perfumed soap.” I didn’t get any chypre or floriental or ‘low notes’ or any of the phrases that I have no idea what they mean anyway. It seemed light and pleasant and feminine. I didn’t sense it was anything special … kind of an ‘around the house’ kind of perfume.

This gives me an opportunity to address one of my favorite aspects of buying perfume for Colombina. She certainly appreciates wearing perfume far more than I appreciate it on her. Which is good in the sense that she wears it for her own pleasure. The perfume is its own reward. Colombina enjoys wearing perfume around the house and enjoys wearing perfume to bed … which now that I know her well … I no longer take as a mixed message. It means nothing more than she likes to wear perfume to bed, so she smells good in her dreams I suppose.

With women I knew B.C. (before Colombina) they often received perfume as the first part of a gift … with the second part being … “OK, now take me out somewhere special where I can wear this.”

My point is that this first fragrance I can see as one Colombina might wear around the house …doing whatever it is she does (besides blogging) when I am at work but I can imagine her gleefully engaging in her domestic routines, happily wearing this first fragrance. And rather than lose the joy of this fragrance whilst doing her stay-at-home mum thing … she’d never risk it coming near the competing smells of Lysol, Mop N Glo, Mr. Clean, Pledge, etc.

It was or seemed to be, just a single smell – Colombina says I mean it was linear. It had no aftersmells and kind of faded quickly. It didn’t have that high alcohol content I smell from many of her perfumes. If it was a beer, I’d say it wasn’t strong or boastful, say like a Harp lager. But it certainly wasn’t watery like a Rolling Rock.

I give it two noses out of five!

This was my favorite of the bunch. And that’s a bit like saying I enjoyed the roasted squirrel over the sauteed weazel – No clue as to why or why I was even trying it.

I suspect that in the back of my mind, I am a prisoner of the notion that the longer the scent lasts, the better it was, in terms of more bang-for-the-buck. This was a stronger scent than number one. At least initially. When Colombina tells me that scents linger and evolve throughout the day, I get an ‘Emporer’s New Clothes’ mentality. When (evil perfume sales) women say, “oh this one will change through out the day and hours later it will blah blah blah, yadda yadda, yadda …” I simply resign myself that women buy into this belief long after the smell is gone.

I KNOW there is some truth in what I’m saying because I think that is why some women douse themselves in the stuff, strongly enough to bring an elevator full of people to their knees. If pefumes stayed with a woman all day, they wouldn’t need to apply it so thick like Sadam Hussein trying to wipe out a Kurdish village. Yeah the smells evolve …if smelling like nothing is a smell!

Hey that gives me an idea! You know how when you spray a room with air freshener, it smells strong for about ten seconds and then the room goes back to smelling like cigarettes and cat hair? So the Renuzit people and Glade and others came up with the electric room deodorizer. You know, those (expensive) things you plug into and outlet and (are supposed to) release new aroma every so often to keep the good smell going right? Well why not invent some kind of battery powdered jewelry with a little perfume container on it, that refreshes the perfume throughout the day? Women wear jewelry pretty much the same places they spritz pefumes (neck, ears, wrist etc.). I think I’m on to something. Get my banker on the phone!

But I digress.

The second scent was stronger to me I think because I sensed some parallel smells going on there. … not in a competing sense … but more harmoniously. I truly don’t know what women mean by top notes and base notes, so I think of what I know of high and low notes musically. In that sense, the second scent had high notes (or high smells) and middle scents/smells going on, with Everly-Brothers-quality harmony. I suspect that these merging smells bond longer to make them stronger (trying to recall if that principle was correct in my high school chemistry class).

Stronger and longer are the two selling points for me as you know. But it wasn’t just stronger. The combination of scents, I suspect, may be one of the reasons why there seemed to be a consistent (though slight) aftersmell … as if these combined ingredients took turns coming to the forefront whilst periodically producing their combined smell.

By the way, if anyone is making ANY sense out of the bollocks I am serving up, then I’ve got some swamp land in Florida I’d love to sell you.

But seriously (for a moment any way), The second scent had a powder-like quality…. More talc-esque than foundation powder like. It kind of put me in the mindset of how my mum used to put baby powder in our slippers as kids ... I guess to fight odor but for us kids, it just gave us a special little feeling.

Colombina quick! Get me a beer and a power tool please? I’m writing too girly!

CHUG CHUG CHUG - Ahhh, that's better. The powdery quality actually put me in the mindset of a nice manly game of pool ... chalking up the cue and getting a little powder going to eliminate the palm sweats.

And getting to the crux of why I liked the second one …This was the only one I thought would sweat well. By that I mean, it was sexy; not just in the stereotypical musky “wake up and smell the sex” way. The sexiness wasn’t right there immediately in your face. It might be just me, but I imagined/sensed it WOULD become sexier, perhaps when mixed with sweat, or in a smoky bar.

If number two was a beer, it would be something exotic, like a Peroni Red or Franzishaner Weissbier.

I give it the very rare, five noses out of five.


Scent three had that initial alcohol content I am used to in many of Colombina’s collection. It was strong enough that I half expected Kitty Dukakis to come banging on the door. It had a definite aftersmell that was kind of outdoorsy …. And woodsy ….like wet wood (no I don’t mean Natalie). The smell lingered longer than the others without losing it’s distinction. The smell was what I imagine “base notes” to mean. It put me in mind of something “cool” and by that I mean temperature … and low.

I suppose the first instinct I was getting to this, was that it smelled like Moss.

No, not her. I don’t know what she smells like … though I imagine the smell would be too thin.

It wasn’t a particularly sexy smell but certainly not unpleasant. I just imagined though that it could be potentially dangerous to wear this if one often takes hikes through the woods … since because it smells like the surroundings … it would be more difficult for the bloodhounds to find you if you go lost and we only had a sweater to give the dogs your scent. These are real concerns I bet they rarely even consider in the boardrooms of Paris.

I’m not an outsdoorsman to begin with, so I can’t say I lean towards outdoorsy smelling perfumes. On the other hand, I could pretend we’re outdoors if Colombina wore this fragrance to bed and build a little tent with the blanket. In its defense, I would say number three (although in a lesser degree) was the nearest to number two (my favorite) in having what I imagined to be the potential for resonating later in combination with a woman’s natural scent.

But what the hell do I know? After all, in going with my first instincts … the first thing I thought of when I was done, and could compare all five scents, was that number three was probably the least flammable. (Or is that Inflammable? I’m never quite sure).

Any way, I found this scent to be somewhere between more pleasurable than a yeast infection and less pleasurable than hydraulic fluid. If it was a beer, I'd say it wasn't quite as dull as Budweiser .... more like living on the edge and picking up a case of Bud Ice. I give it three noses out of five.


I found this to be the sweetest, most food-like and a kind of creamy scent. It had some bulk ... some bite to it. This is and of itself should have been enough for me to say I liked it. And it might in fact be my second choice. I have no idea if this makes sense at all but I would describe it (in my charmingly naive way) as being a 'middle' smell ... perfect for happy hour.

Normally I do not like food smell perfumes. And I'm probably way off with not a hint of food ingredients in this one. But I am against food smells because they never smell like the food they're supposed to smell like. Colombina went through a phase where she was wearing a 'chocolate' scent to bed. This stuff had as much chance of reminding me of chocolate, as I have of becoming the next Maurice Roucel - a perfumer for you guys reading this. Yeah I thought he played left wing for the Maple Leafs too!

IF a fragrance has to smell of food, I guess I prefer something fruit-based. And that's kind of weird when you consider the closest I get to eating fruit might be a strawberry pop tart.

Again, I could be way off. There might be less food stuffs in this fragrance than in all of Ethiopia but I call 'em as I smell 'em.

Smelling this on myself probably does this one more injustice than the others. I think if I smelled this on a woman ... Colombina for example ... it might have been more appealing. And as I said, I did like it enough to say it would be my second choice.

On this one, I really did try to find the nuancers and the secondary sources of scents. I thought for a moment that there might be something floral involved. But I'd still honestly have as good a shot at getting this right, if I put the names of all possible ingredients on a board and hurled darts at it.

If scent four was a beer, I think it'd be a Guiness ... rich and filling, yet with the potential to be to frothy (foamy) ... an acquired taste that may work well for some but not all. I give scent four an honorable four noses out of five.


At first, nothing ... as an odorless liquid I was sure this would be the stuff that you're now barred from taking as carry-on and has increased Homeland Security's terror alert to ... what color are we up to now? --- Chartreuse?

But I gave it a second whiff.

Whiskey? Or was that just me locking into the alcohol again? This one seemed flatter than the others. Is that what you mean by base notes? I had a sweet smell but there was something underlying ... hard to pin down ... something between the lines, almost ... sterile like moth balls ... something camphorous ... like a very pleasant embalming fluid.

Like some of the others, I definitely think this would be more appealing on anyone other than myself. It was slow to fade and consistent. but in the words of Randy Jackson ... "I wasn't feeling it dog!"

I also found that this one ... though not my favorite ... might be the one I would be most likely to recognise ... say like if a woman wore it every day and night for the next 17 years or something. I could be wrong ... ok am probably wrong but I GUESS that this one might be the one that changes most to each individual wearer. It's another fragrance that I imagine would sweat well.

It is beginning to sound like I am obsessed with sweat. But as I remember from reading the walls of a mens' room ... "don't sweat the petty things ... pet the sweaty things."

One last sniff for good measure on scent five and it kind of grows on me. It's still not enough to make it into my top two ... but definitely might help acentuate the (natural) scent of a woman.

If scent five were a beer, it might be Coors Light ... you can always show up with it and feel like you brought a present ... but when your host asks what you're drinking ... drink his stuff instead. I give it two noses out of five.

This gives me another opportunity to digress and address a series of questions that Colombina says she is asked all the time …

“What do men like about perfume?

Is there a perfume that could make a man like a woman more than he already does? … perhaps stay with a woman he might otherwise dump?

Well again, I can only speak for myself but I do think I share the opinions of most average guys out there when I say …

1) Women rank the way a man smells up there with other qualities that a man will rank much
lower when mentally making decisions about a woman. I say mentally, though a lot of men (me included) have literally taken a legal pad … where I keep MY ‘leather notes’ … drawn a line down the centre and listed pros on the left …cons on the right. Generally speaking …”she smells bad” or “has bad breath” can make it to the ‘cons’ side near the top …whilst “she smells good” usually only makes the “pros” list if you can’t think of anything else like, “wears low cut tops” or “her dad has season tickets to the Eagles games.” Women care what a man does for a living. While the average guy will (INITIALLY) go for the hot cashier girl at the 7-11 before considering the ‘nice’ looking CEO.

2) But getting PAST that initial primal attraction … by the time a man has found the ability to locate, make note of and remember what color a woman’s eyes are … and is no longer obsessed with estimating the PSI pressure on the last buttoned-up button on her blouse … he will EVENTUALLY notice her perfume. I say eventually because nine times out of ten, his decisions on how he feels about a female are pretty well determined before he’s paying attention to her perfume. Personally, I rarely identified a woman with a perfume for two reasons. 1) I couldn’t identify the perfume to begin with …and B) A lot of women I knew (B.C.) often wore different perfumes each (or at least some) of the times I was with them.

3) I can say that I knew many women who had no clue as to how to wear makeup. Men are (said to be) more ‘visual’ than women so I do recall losing interest in an otherwise pretty (perhaps even potentially beautiful) girl who went nuts on the blue eye shadow, or thought it sexy to wear glitter, or otherwise looked like a cross between Krusty the Klown and a kabuki dancer on acid. But the same logic applies to perfume as it does to make-up. Regardless of how expensive or good it is … ‘less is more’ …and over-applying it is a turn off. Essentially, I come back to the point that smelling bad (which can be smelling good but too strongly) can chase a man away …whilst smelling good is generally not going to be the only way to keep him.

4) Even among the least shallowest of males, there would be reluctance to use smell as a deciding factor. Firstly there are his friends …

“Hey Fred, your girlfriend looks like Margaret Thatcher’s ugly sister!”

“Yeah I know, but she smells like pomegranate and summer rain in a Nordic forest!”

That just ain’t gonna happen.

5) OK, I know I’ve danced around the answer. Honestly … as a man who was in his late 30’s before he got married, and was no stranger to the gentler sex (B.C.) … I can honestly say, ther was perhaps only one woman and one scent (and no, I have no idea was it was called) where the perfume did give the woman a little extra weaponry and power over me. It was a sexy scent but it wasn’t only during moments of passion that it was alluring. It just seemed to work on HER. I
recall it was kind of a brandy-like smell and not overtly musky but somehow kid of raw. If it were possible for every woman to know her own “scent of a woman” .. her own unperfumed natural smell …and then find a perfume that complimented, and even brought out this smell … then that the perfume I’d advise her to stick with. But that comes back to the fact that women often consciously make sure they’re wearing a different perfume on each date, the same way a man makes sure he’s wearing a different (or at least cleaned) shirt on each date.

What I would suggest it this. Smell IS a strong SUBCONSCIOUS sense and therefore can be used in more subtle ways. Example … let’s say a woman generally uses four or five different fragrances. Basically she will rotate their use accrording to her mood and fancy. And that’s fine. But think for a moment what a powerful and controlling tool this could be. If (without disclosing her plan) she always wore fragrance one when she felt amorous …fragrance two when she felt energetic and restless and wanted to go out … fragrance three when she wanted to be left alone …fragrance four when she just wanted a cuddle …fragrance five when she wanted to talk ….

Women can’t deny that they either find it difficult to express their mood … or rather sadistically enjoy watching men suffer whilst trying to drag it out of them. With my plan, a man would eventually … when I say eventually … I mean sometime before the next appearance of Halley’s Comet …would eventually be conditioned like a Pavlovian dog to respond to her needs in order to get his bit of cheese.


(And the samples were: 1. Chanel No 5; 2. Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur; 3. Caron Yatagan; 4.Donna Karan Be Delicious; 5. Serge Lutens Muscs Koublai Khan.)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't believe he doesn't remember what THAT girl wore.... you know we are all dying to know!!
Brandy-like huh? Mmmmmmm!

7:22 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

Absolutely wonderful! And generally spot on! My husband would agree with you about your favorite (Musc Ravageur): it's one of the few perfumes he comments on: he calls it "the sexy one." I won't say much about housecleaning in Chanel No. 5: I can imagine Colombina--or Catherine Deneuve--doing just that. The real mystery, of course, is the non-smelling MKK. I seem to remember that you used to think this smelled like sex. Some (not I, of course) would say this is what happens after you have been married for a while; you get all, um, smelled out.

8:07 AM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

Poor Mr. C! I can't believe you're torturing him like this ... I can't even get the Big Cheese to sniff the 5 (!) men's frags I picked out for HIM, at HIS REQUEST. But I loved his responses -- and, yes, Mr. C, I think any woman who's selecting fragrance based on some theoretical male attractiveness factor is just kidding herself. If I want My Man to come a-runnin', I just need to be holding a tin of sardines and a Heineken.

I am fascinated by your reaction to MKK and MR -- wonder if you're anosmic to some of the musk?

8:08 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

Brilliant and hilarious post!!!! Am very, very impressed that you liked MR so much. And extremely amused at the difference between your take on MKK and Mr. Aromascope's. :-) I often used my husband as a guinea pig for testing scents on (an attempt to see how a scent would react w/ his skin chemistry as opposed to mine), but he was seriously clueless about identifying notes. You did *far* better than he would have. And he would absolutely agree w/ your answers about how much men care about perfumes on a woman...i.e., not a whole heck of a lot.

8:19 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Got to give you the props, dawg, got to give you the props. Firstly, for giving a new meaning to B.C. Secondly, for liking Musc Ravageur, one of my holiest of holy grails. Thirdly, for finding a picture of Maurice Roucel, one of the Gods of perfumery and using it *next to the scent he created* (Be Delicious and Musc Ravageur too, actually) How that happened, I will never understand :-)

I also must say that both you and Todd were spot on Chanel No 5. Because most and foremost it IS a smell of an expensive soap. Trust the two somewhat clueless men to tell it like it is.

I am a little bummed that you did not like Yatagan (the mossy one) as much as I did, but at least you did not hate it. And it is funny when you say that Perfume 5, Muscs Koublai Khan, is the one you are most likely to recognize...honey, if I had a dollar for every time I wore it, I'd have at least $200-300 by now. Not only that, but we TALKED about this one before, remember? You said it smelled like Caligula's sofa, like Hefner's mansion after the Saturday night party?...

Anyway, I aboslutely loved reading your impressions, I actually think this is one of your best efforts yet, along with The One With All The Bottles. I'd built a tent with you anytime. :-D

8:28 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Great reviews, and in the interest of both science and fair play, I think you should do the same blind test on your wife.. with beer.

11:38 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Beer makes the nose grow fonder, so the experiment won't be either scientific or fair. But it might be fun. :-)

11:59 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Work with me here, I'm trying not to tip him off...

12:06 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wonderful! I`m laughing so hard
I`m having trouble typing. BF is reading over my shoulder, I hear an occasional uh huh. BF likes Musc Ravageur too. I hope you post an occasional review, that was a great read.

3:42 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! You and Mr. Aromascope were pretty close there on Chanel No 5 and Musc Ravageur! Great job, and thanks for another hilarious post! ;D

3:46 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Just in case you haven't seen them, Mr. C has done several posts. You can find links to them all on the right side of the blog under the title From The Mounths of Husbands :-) Yes, I am shamelessly advertising my DH's stuff :-)

4:08 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I actually guessed it was Musc Ravageur by your review... I usually can't guess what you guys are testing. That was fun. Hope you do it again sometime. I love to hear what "the men" think.

5:08 PM EDT  
Blogger priscilla said...

I love the combo noses/beer ranking scheme. Very well done, and much fun to read as always!

9:08 PM EDT  
Blogger NewKidOnTheBlog said...

Dear Anonymous,

For a moment I thought you meant Marlo Thomas.

I haven't been in touch with her for years so I guess it'll remain a mystery.

Maybe she just drank a lot of brandy?

Mr. C.

12:22 AM EDT  
Blogger NewKidOnTheBlog said...


There are two differences between Colombina and Catherine Deneuve.

Colombina is sexier and Ms. Deneuve has a house cleaner.

I probably was "smelled out" - it was quite a lot to ask of me as an amateur.


MR. C.

12:25 AM EDT  
Blogger NewKidOnTheBlog said...

Dear Marchlion,

I am probably anosmic. But I have great vision and hearing - that's gotta be worth something?

Sardines & Heineken? Now you're talking!


MR. C.

12:32 AM EDT  
Blogger NewKidOnTheBlog said...

Hi Elle,

I don't mind being used as Colombina's guinea pig ... so long as she is happy.

My take on each perfume was merely gut reaction kinda stuff.

I wouldn't say I (we men) don't CARE so much about perfume it's just that we appreciate on its simplest level.

When Colombina started this blog nearly a year ago I would have thought she'd run out of things to talk about months ago.

A man appreciates perfume like a woman appreciates a car. She likes it but hasn't a clue as to how it works - same for men an perfume.

And before any of the mechanically astute females reply - yes I know there are exceptions.


MR. C.

12:37 AM EDT  
Blogger NewKidOnTheBlog said...


The Roucel thing was just a big coincidence. I googled perfumers to find one with a French name that could sound like an NHL player for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Flyers used to have a goalie named Dominic Roucel in fact (though the spelling was different)

Yeah me and Todd know our stuff with Chanel no. 5.

I didn't dislike Yatagan. I just thought they were all women's frags (is that what we call fragrances now? frags?) - and thought it smelled better on me (a man - you might recall) than it would on a woman.

Happy Birthday in Advance!
Your Mr. C.

12:43 AM EDT  
Blogger NewKidOnTheBlog said...


Merci Buckets

Mr. C.

12:43 AM EDT  
Blogger NewKidOnTheBlog said...


Not sure I understand the premise... is Colombina to blind taste test beer? Or am I to blind test them by pooring them on her and then drinking them?

GOOD point though because although she likes beer very much, her surface level of appreciation often comes down to, "I don't care which beer you get - beer is beer."

Hmmmmm.... sounds like what I might say about perfume!


MR. C.

12:46 AM EDT  
Blogger NewKidOnTheBlog said...

Hi Lynne,

Up til now, most of my guest posts were not direct reviews - more like flippant off-the-cuff comments.

I have some ideas for some other guest posts in the works.

I was thinking of reviewing some CLASSIC men's scents though I doubt MRS. C. has them ...

For example, Aqua Velva, English Leather, Brut, Old Spice ...Hai Karate (do they still make that?) and of course - though technically not a fragrance ..... "L'Ectric Shave"


MR. C.

12:50 AM EDT  
Blogger NewKidOnTheBlog said...

Hi Ina,

Glad you enjoyed it. I read Todd's post with great interest and enjoyment (misery loves company and all that)

I hope you (and Colombina) remember this willingness to share our woman's world when things happen there being THREE NFL games on back-to-back-to-back this coming Thanksgiving.


MR. C.

12:53 AM EDT  
Blogger NewKidOnTheBlog said...


You go girlfriend - advertise your DH's stuff!

Mr. C.

12:55 AM EDT  
Blogger NewKidOnTheBlog said...

Dear Anonymous,

You guessed it from my description?


I guess an anosmic squirrel does sniff out a nut once in a while.

MR. C.

PS: Just because you are anonymous, you can still wish Colombina a happy birthday this coming Tuesday.

12:57 AM EDT  
Blogger NewKidOnTheBlog said...


Amazing what you can do with photo shop these days.

I'll keep them coming as long as Colombina asks me to and her readers seem to enjoy them.


MR. C.

12:58 AM EDT  
Blogger NewKidOnTheBlog said...

Hi Green Eyes,

Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for commenting!


MR. C.

1:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whew! I finally made it through your post, Paul. Had to pack a lunch. You certainly outdid me with your exhaustive reviews, but I'm glad we agreed on a few things. I didn't take it as a competition... we'll save that for the arm wrestling!

Very funny stuff, man. Especially the photoshopped images. My favorites were the protest sign and you and I as Beavis & Butt-head. Now those guys are authorities on fragrances. But not the kind you can sell. Oh, and how could I forget the Apocalypse Now one? There's no one more manly than Col. Kilgore (or Robert Duvall in any role).

I won't respond to your insightful commentary because I wouldn't know where to begin, but good work. At least if any buddies of ours find these posts and publicly ridicule us, we'll still have each other to turn to.

1:23 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I just want to add that what Mr. C wrote in capital letters in replay to *each comment* (gosh!) was totally unsanctioned by me. Oy oy oy.

8:35 AM EDT  

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