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Friday, September 08, 2006

From The Mouths of Husbands - A Letter Home From Perfume Camp

What have I been up to since my last guest-post you ask? Well having recently participated in the first annual smell-off … IE, the blind perfume tests as administered to myself and Mr. Aromascope by Colombina/Marina and Ina respectively …. I decided I should do something about my inability to discern among the subtle nuances of smell.

So I enrolled in PERFUME CAMP! - Here is one of my letters home ...

6th September, 2006
Dear Colombina,

The buses rolled in to "Paris" Island at 05:00. My fellow anosmic recruits and I got off the bus and formed two straight lines as instructed by the Smell Sergeant ... He yelled at us ... a lot. He told us we were smelly and that we were the reason enemies of our country think America stinks. Apparently, he formerly served with the Nasal Seals!

The next morning we were awoken sharply at the crack of noon. Our first task of the day was to be poked and prodded and smell tested. Those who were determined to be S.B.H (smelly beyond hope) were sent packing and boarded a bus back to where they came from. Those of us remaining were dipped in a cologne bath of some sort, hosed down and sent to learn to identify the basic smells from 200 yards.

We learned of the basic smell groups. I thought the basic smell groups were petroleum, beer, bacon, coffee and barbecue lighter fluid. But I was mistaken. Apparently they are: Green Notes, Floral Notes, Aldehydic Notes, Chypre Notes, Oriental Notes, Tabacoo/Leather Notes (my favorite) and Fougere Notes.

The next assigment was the dreaded obstacle course. The smell sergeant timed us, as we dodged our way through clearance tables and display stands. We hurdled over browsers and befuddled male shoppers ... making a determined effort to be the first to reach the Guerlain counter. After a couple of times of learning the course, Sarge decided to use what he called, "The Scorched Earth" approach, this time setting us onto the obstacle course but having the enemy spritz girls block our way and telling us there was only one more bottle of Djedi remaining on sale!

All the time the sarge was hurling perfume grenades in our path!

"Come on Ladies!" he barked, "Get that Guerlain like your country depends on it. Do you want Al Qaida to smell better than you? What's the matter Mr. Colombina, did you forget your visa card again? Drop and give me twenty spritzes you scumbag!"

I could see that basic training was going to be tough. It was now a question of could I make it or not. I didn't realise what I was in for.

The next day we did a lot of marching. It was quite fun actually, as we did a lot of singing as we marched. We sang song to keep us in STEP like:

It’s been said that war is hell
It’s been said that war is hell
So pass the ammo and Chanel
So pass the ammo and Chanel
Sound Off … 1 -2
Sound Off … 3 – 4
Sound Off … 1 -2 -3 – 4 … 1 – 2 -THREE FOUR!

And the next day, we were gone from the camp almost all day. It was time for survival training. All day with no shower and no soap, we would have to come back to camp without body odor.

"Charlie could smell body odor," Said the smell Sergeant, "That's how them viet congs always knew where we were!"

One of the first tasks in survival training was to be able to field strip a perfume atomizer in under one minute.

Then under heavy fire of skunk spray, we had to used this atomizer and anything we could find ... grubs, flowers, berries ... to make a makeshift field perfume to ward off the attacking odors.

Remembering what I had learned in perfume basics class, I quickly decided to attempt to fashion a make-shift chypre blend from daisies and tree sap. The pressure was intense. They never let up. After we had been skunkified all day, the unseen enemy launched a barrage of dead fish and peat moss in our direction.

Though my chypre defense was a failure, the sarge said it showed ingenuity. Still ... for coming back to camp smelling like a public toilet in a Bangkok railway station, I was assigned KP (knowledge of Perfume) duty. Instead of a weekend pass (for the big Macy's sale), I would spend the weekend at the camp library, reading the biography of Coco and familiarizing myself with the history of perfumes, dating back to the Egyptian empire.

By the time all my fellow recruits returned, I knew enough about perfume to have my own blog!

By now, the camraderie amongst the lads was growing. I must say they are a merry bunch. We were given an evening of light duty, and then we were invited to sit around the barracks and tell stories about ourselves and our previously scentless lives. I guess this was a team building excercise. They were a swell bunch of fellas. There was Bruce from San Francisco, Antoine from Brighton and another guy name David, whom everyone had nicknamed "Camp David."

These men and I now shared a bond ... a bond that we would take with us long after we left this camp. We were now ... "Brothers in Underarms!

Though my own confidence in my smelling ability was growing stronger every day, I could sense that some of my bunk mates still were as anosmic as the day they first arrived. They were faking it through basic, and though they were holding us back, we protected them and help them cheat through the smell tests. Having shared blood, sweat and beers with these guys, we knew they'd never make it on the outside. Still, as long as we were a unit, we would hide them from the anosmiphobes among the brass. We developed a policy of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

There were just a few days left before camp was over. We used that time to brush up on more smells and the weapons of the smell extremists in their modern chemical warfare. We learned of stink bombs and dirty bombs. We were told that sniffer dogs would now aid in preventing potential smelly threats form boarding planes, especially in light of the fact that you can no longer board an aircraft with ANY liquids ... INCLUDING perfume! This is just unAmerican. If I can't fly with a spare splash of Hummer ... WHAT is the world coming to? It's a dangerous and smelly new world order I'm afraid. But I am now trained to defend the rights of those who want nothing more than life, liberty and the pursuit of chypreness! God bless America.

FINALLY ... Graduation Day has come!

We are no longer maggots! We are no longer mere recruits. We are PRIVATES in the war against smelly people! And we are privates that smell great. Even the base commander told the sarge ... "Sarge, your privates smell great!"

We celebrated graduation with a parade around the base!

We wore our uniforms and berets. The berets made us feel French. Though I must admit, it felt like a contradiction in terms to say we felt like a "French Army"

The parade lasted just a short time as we did not want to risk getting sweaty on this special day.

You can see me in he picture I hope. I am the fifth beret from the left in the back row. If you could smell the picture, you proudly notice I am the only one awarded the distinction of being allowed to wear "Hummer"!

French Army?

Anyway, now that my nose is a trained deadly weapon against stink ... I am considering what outfit I wish to join.

I could enroll in the US NASAL ACADEMY

Or perhaps the army?

Actually I am being strongly recruited to join the 101st Claiborne Division, where their motto is "Scent from Above"!

But at the end of the day, I think I will come home and join the Marinas. Certainly it's where the best smells are.

Yes sweetheart, that's where I belong. Douse yourself in Dzing! I am coming home!


Blogger Dusan said...

ROFL at "Sarge, your privates smell great". Love the Monthy Python pic, your great sense of humour, am printing this article to use it as uppers. I'm especially in love with the cadettes from the US Nasal Academy :-D
You've outdone yourself this time, Mr. C, but then that's only to be expected from you.
Hey, is that really Marina(s) in the last picture?

12:07 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hilarious and adorable!! I want to join the Marinas! Please sign me up!

12:19 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

Brilliant! I need to enroll my DH in that camp, although I fear he'd try to make a run for it in BG and escape to the freedom of the electronics dept. where he would probably hope for a football game to be on a TV there. But I still want to know - who made it through the obstacle course to get the Djedi?
Oh, and yes - the Marinas would indeed be where the best smelling scents are. :-)

8:15 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Dear Mr. C,
I too think you've outdone yourself this time. The other one that could possibly rival this is the post with all the bottles...which apparently Timeout magazine also appreciated :-D

To Dusan: No, I'm one of the "Army" girls. Just joking! :-)

To Elle: Whoever it was that got Djedi, it wasn't Mr. C... 50 spritzes of Cacao to him for that :-)

9:02 AM EDT  
Blogger NewKidOnTheBlog said...


I am indeed impressed that you recognised the Python picture.

The cadettes are attractive but they are no Colombinas!

It's not her in the last picture.

MAYBE someday she'll post an actual picture of herself and you'd see how lucky I am.

I doubt Colombina ever mentioned this but the best man at our wedding was also a Serb - my best mate Sasha in London.

Mr. C.

10:18 AM EDT  
Blogger NewKidOnTheBlog said...


Dubry Dien! Join? I thought you were already drafted into the Marinas!

Mr. C.

10:20 AM EDT  
Blogger NewKidOnTheBlog said...

Bon Jour Helene!

Thank you for the lesson in Euroticism au naturale.

I am half English and lived about 1/6 of my life in Old Blighty. But I am not a francophobe though ... I just like making fun of everyone (equally, without prejudice).

Merci Buckets
Mr. C

10:28 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lilybp said: (accidentally de.leted)

"The few, the proud, the Marinas, indeed!!!! What a wonderful post (as always). Not telling who got the Djedi. . . but DH needed to redeem himself after spilling half a bottle of vintage Miss Dior on the kitchen floor (don't they teach you guys basic bottle opening there?)"

10:30 AM EDT  
Blogger NewKidOnTheBlog said...


Escape to the electronics dept to watch a football game? Your DH is BRILLIANT!

I made it through to get the Djedi! I had the experience from my previous post ("Fear & Loathing at the Perfume Counter).

But don't tell Colombina because I didn't give it to her ... instead I sold it in sample vials on ebay and bought a new football.

Mr. C.

10:36 AM EDT  
Blogger NewKidOnTheBlog said...


TimeOut MAY indeed have been inspired (in a plagiaristic sense) by my bottles post - but imitation IS the second highest form of flattery - a royalties cheque would have been THE highest form.

But I think we all agree that THEIR 'bottles' article wasn't nearly as funny and obviously not as original.

Mr. You

10:39 AM EDT  
Blogger NewKidOnTheBlog said...


My sympathies are extended for your DH having ACCIDENTLY (I'm sure) spilled the liquid gold (IE vintage Miss Dior).

Though a court-martial-able offense in womanworld ... I'm sure you found a way to forgive him?

(Or was he given a "code red" at Guantanamo?)

Another thing they didn't teach us in basic training was blog-response.

Colombina wants me to respond to the comments almost as immediately as they are posted. I wish to respond too ... but would have preferred a cup of coffee first this morning.

Hence, whilst posting my first reply, I forgot to log in as me, and it went on as published by Colombina ...and when I tried to delete it and start over ... it accidently deleted YOUR comment. I do apologise!!!

Rumor has it that the first mission for the Marinas will be to invade some Dolce Gabbana republic.

Mr. C.

10:49 AM EDT  
Blogger Dusan said...

How could I not love the Pythons - they are one of the best things that happened to the 20th century! Them and the Black Adder, obviously. We even did the parrot scene for a high-school production and guess who played the cross-dressing lumberjack? Yeah... There had also been plans to do the restaurant/dirty fork bit, but it never came to fruition because we just couldn't stop cracking at the rehearsals. My bit: "There was a light at the end of the tunnel, when this, this happened!" :-D
I doubt Colombina will ever post her picture, but I've no doubts you are one lucky man.
I dunno why, but I feel awfully proud that your best man is a Serb. I know a Sasha from London, but they can't be the same man :-D. This one is better known as Leki.
Nema na cemu, stvarno si car!

11:49 AM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

Loved it! and especially appreciated the Monty Python picture.

12:19 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a wonderfully funny post. Mr. C, you are a very talented writer. Three cheers! Or three beers, if you'd prefer.

5:37 PM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

Okay, I think even belonging to the Marinas can't be so harsh as to prevent you from having your morning bucket(s) of coffee before blogging. Some of my greatest blogging gaffes were decaffeinated.

I want to know what the stinkbombs smell like. And do you like MKK on your wife?;-)

7:10 PM EDT  
Blogger chayaruchama said...

Are those YOUR lips?
Nice lips, Doctor Demento...

Our household salutes you, regarding your Python choice-

The boys can look forward to many,many years of therapy, thanks to Python, Tom Lehrer, Patrick Sky, Jerry Jeff Walker...poor buggers.

Well done !

7:30 PM EDT  
Blogger Lisa Olga said...

Mr C,

Spoofume bows before your utter brillance. You win the intarwebs!
This post was some serious genius. Well done indeed. I am still laughing since I first read it on my lunch hour.

7:39 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

reading this made my day! hilarious!!! now can you photoshop a picture of Mr Lutens in military gear...Sarge Lutens!

you are simply brilliant!!


10:22 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

That is so funny, Sarge Lutens!

For Mr. Colombina: It's SERGE Lutens. Serge-Sarge, see? It's especially funny, because Lutens is ever so chic, so calling him Sarge is hilarious (well, for us perfumistas anyway ) :-)

10:26 PM EDT  
Blogger NewKidOnTheBlog said...

Dear Boisdejasmin,

Thanks for reading ... glad you enjoyed!

Mr. C.

11:40 PM EDT  
Blogger NewKidOnTheBlog said...


The Sasha I know ... you would know if you know him ... for he is a BIG man, with a BIG heart. I know him as Sasha Ivanovic.

As for the Pythons ... one of the first expressions I tried to get my daughter to say was, "ecki ecki patang woof boing neeeeeeeer woom"

(What was said by the knights who formerly said "Nee" in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

When I was younger, a friend and I could do the whole "cheese shop" sketch word-for-word.

Mr. C.

11:55 PM EDT  
Blogger NewKidOnTheBlog said...


I am a former barista myself ya know.

I thought the python picture might not be recognized and be a tad obscure. After all the Pythons were first on TV in the late 1960s.

I guess their humor never dies as the picture seems to have been appreciated by many readers.

Mr. C.

11:59 PM EDT  
Blogger NewKidOnTheBlog said...


I am happy as always that you enjoyed it. I am running out of ideas (for future posts)but that's usually when I am at my daftest/funniest?

I will write again when Colombina asks me to.

All the best,
Mr. C.

12:01 AM EDT  
Blogger NewKidOnTheBlog said...


Three beers? Yes please! And thank you for the compliments!

I like writing fiction. In fact I wish I had been on the writing team of the upcoming ABC Mocudrama about 911. But even I haven't got that outrageous an imagination.

Mr. C.

12:04 AM EDT  
Blogger NewKidOnTheBlog said...


Not my lips I'm afraid. I use a lip stunt double for the dangerous work.

If I gather anything at all from the comments today it is that somehow people seem genuinely surprised to see Monty Python pictures on a perfume blog.

Seems normal to me I s'pose.

Best Wishes,
Mr. C.

12:08 AM EDT  
Blogger NewKidOnTheBlog said...


I AM coffee. If there IS a heaven, then they have a Starbucks.

Stinkbombs? If I remember correctly from my high school prankster days, they smell like a discarded Dr. Scholl's insert that used to belong to a saharan nomad with athlete's foot.

MKK on my wife? Not sure I tried that.

Not sure I know what MKK is?

(apart from the official international three-letter designation for Molokai Airport in Hawaii - of course - and we ALL knew that I am sure.)

Sounds kinky though.

I can tell you this ... I'd rather have the MKK on my wife, than the KKK on my wife.

Mr. C.

12:22 AM EDT  
Blogger NewKidOnTheBlog said...


After politics and religion, I can't think of a topic more perfect for humour than perfume.

I especially enjoy this forum where the readers take it so seriously and devoutly ...almost like a cult - a cult of government fearing survivalists who have built shelters and stocked them with an endless supply of shot gun shells and bottled (toilet) water.

I win the intarwebs?

Wow! You like me! You really like me. (tear)

I didn't prepare anything. Well for me the winning was just in being nominated.

Keep on spoofuming!
Mr. C.

12:29 AM EDT  
Blogger NewKidOnTheBlog said...

Hi Sara,

I have as much a chance of knowing who Mr. Lutens is as my wife who moved to this country 18 months ago would have of knowing who Mr. Whippell is.

He's not the bloke they named Luten Airport for in London is he?

(I see a recurring airport theme developing).

But seriously if I HAD to take a stab at who he is ... I'd guess he had something to do with Chergui?

Mr. C.

12:34 AM EDT  
Blogger NewKidOnTheBlog said...


Ummmm OK. I get it. I am sure your lot are roaring with laughter. I'll get there one day baby.

Mr. You

12:38 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pursuit of chypreness...loved it!
You have done it again.
I would love to see your next venture... joining the next Apollo programme....."That’s one small spritz for man,..One giant splash for mankind."

4:45 AM EDT  
Blogger NewKidOnTheBlog said...

Hi Andy,

I always look forward to your comments! Thanks for reading and commenting.

Your Apollo line is one of the best I've read! - I wish I'd thought of it!

All the best,
Mr. C.

3:42 PM EDT  
Blogger Dusan said...

Mr. C,
Nope, don't know your Sasha, mine's s. Stankovic, but I'm happy for you nonetheless.

I know the whole Grail by heart! I'm sure you're not surprised. Your daughter is one lucky child!

12:35 AM EDT  

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