Angel for Men

I’m not sure who the marketing genius was who came up with the idea of a cologne for men with undertones of chocolate, but she (I’m sure it was a female) was a woman after my own heart. The first time I smelled Angel for Men, I was in love. Admittedly, I am a born chocoholic …. I get that from my Grandma Cartner. When I asked her on her last day on earth, “What would you like to drink, Grandma?” She said, “Chocolate.” I hear you, lady and I’m right there with you.

I can imagine the conversation around the conference room table. Various men asking: “What scent could we utilize to make women want to buy cologne for their man?” “What do women want their man to smell like?” “What scent turns women on?”

“CHOCOLATE!” screamed one of the women in the room.

I know I can’t hear or say the word chocolate without a look of lust on my face.

Thinking about the evolution of this idea made me think about how scents and flavors can take me to a different place or time in an instant.

The scent and taste of Maybelline Cherry Smash Kissing Potion lip gloss will forever transport me to my cousin Marty’s basement where I picture myself sitting in his parked dune buggy with his best friend, Jeff Anderson, sharing my very first kiss when I was fourteen. I’d had a huge crush on Jeff since the summer before and that first kiss is still one of the best I’ve ever had, if for no other reason than the looooong anticipation of it. I’m forty years older now, but I still remember every detail, like how Marty stomped upstairs and told his mother, “They are down there sucking face!”

A whiff of Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps Parfum conjures up my mother standing in front of the bathroom mirror while I sat on the closed toilet seat behind her, talking to her while she was getting ready to face the world. I miss that every Saturday morning ritual almost more than the shopping trips and lunches that followed. When she passed away in 2001, I kept a bottle of her perfume. Smelling it is painful and sweet. I miss her so much, but feel so grateful that we spent so much time together and made such lasting memories while she was here.

The warm, cozy smell of chicken and pastry baking in an oven instantly takes me back to my Grandma’s kitchen. She made the best chicken pie on the planet, all from scratch, golden and bubbly, oozing goodness. The pie, and the woman, filled anyone who experienced them with a feeling of comfort and love. I would watch her slow simmer a whole chicken, spend what seemed like forever taking the meat from the bone, mix and roll out the dough for the crust, then assemble everything in her special chicken pie pan and pop it in the oven. The whole process seemed to take hours. The result was totally worth the time. I asked her once what the secret ingredient was that made it so good and she said, “Love.”

The smell of concession stand hotdogs takes me back to Long Creek Elementary School and Optimist Club football games. I can feel the slipperiness of the dew soaked grass and feel cool air on my legs, waiting for my squad’s turn to cheer. I loved it so much I would beg to wear my Saddle Oxfords to school. Then, when I was older, that smell was the backdrop for so many memories of going to North Mecklenburg High School football games. I’d have to check the score before I left the stadium because I rarely watched one play of the game. The action then was on the grassy hill between the home and visitor sides. Teenage dramas played out under vapor lights on that hill.

The smell and taste of theater popcorn was the flavor of most of my dates with Darryl in high school. I feel like that young couple, newly in love, still when I share a bucket with the man I have called mine for almost 38 years now. Even though it costs what was a high schooler’s week’s wages back then for us to go to a movie now, we still do it, and I still love spending that couple of hours in the dark, thigh to thigh with him, munching on million calorie theater popcorn. I’ve seen a lot of subpar movies just because I wanted to sit in the dark with Darryl and stuff my face with that fragrant mix of popped corn, butter and salt.

Growing up, Christmases were the best time of year. The smell of a fresh cut pine tree instantly transports me back to the times when I woke my brother at 5:30AM to open presents, far too excited to sleep in. My family spent most of Christmas Day beside my grandmother’s Christmas tree, stuffing ourselves with the sumptuous dishes prepared by my aunts, my mom, and my grandma. I never remember being upset about leaving our new toys behind for the day. I just remember excitement and anticipation of spending the day with my cousins, aunts and uncles, and the best grandmother in the whole world. Though I use an artificial tree now to keep from ruining my wood floors, I found I missed the smell of the tree. Bath and Body Works to the rescue! Their Fresh Balsam Wallflower smells just like a fresh cut tree. I confess that I use them year round whenever I am nostalgic for the old feelings of family togetherness surrounding Christmas. The only problem is, they make me miss my mama’s Fruitcake Cookies!

It’s no surprise given my lifelong love affair with the flavor and aroma  ….. Thierry Mugler’s Angel for Men had me at “chocolate”.

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