“If your grandfather hadn’t worn it, you probably wouldn’t exist…”
My tween Eldest loves to use this Old Spice tag line. Like many things in his world, he’s just beginning to grasp the underlying meaning. Now youngest - age 8 - is starting to follow right behind. He came downstairs this weekend doused with his brother’s cologne.
“Whoa, Buddy. Have you been in your brother’s Old Spice?”
“Well. Maybe. “ Kind of hard to cover up an overdose of aftershave.
“A little goes a long way, ya know?”
“I like to smell good.”
“Maybe we need to get you some of your own.”
“Can we?” Sure, I think. I’ve got one I can’t get into the shower but needs it. Regularly. And I’ve got one who’d bathe in dad smell if I let him.
Smells are part of my life – they’re hard to escape in medicine. The good ones: The buttery sweet smell of a newborn that makes me ovulate on cue as KC puts it, my butter cream candle that puts me in that Zen place. The mediocre: hand sanitizer foam, plastic odor from IV tubing, syringes, and emesis basins. The stomach churners: toddler poop, third hand smoke, formaldehyde based wavicide we use to clean instruments (sends me straight back to anatomy lab), and the perennial vomit tang. A well trained nose can turn off all but the strongest smells.
At home, I have to remember to turn my olfactory sense back on – make a conscientious effort to take in the yummy clean smell of my youngest’s hair and even the pubertal funk of Eldest – pre-Old Spice. Do I really want to mess with the chemistry that goes straight to my amygdala? Cover it up with some commercial pheromone?
I wonder what I smell like to my kids. Will they get a whiff in their old age and suddenly have memories of their mom? Perfume is one thing I can rarely forgo – can go without makeup, like Fizzy, but cannot go without some sort of scent. My current favorite is Philosophy’s Grace – it’s like grown-up baby powder to me – soft, a little floral, and subtle.
So at Target, I buy Youngest a bottle of Old Spice. It’s better than some of the alternatives. We keep peace in the bathroom with separate bottles for each of my fellows. A little goes a long way.