By Jim Heffernan
Good Old Spice. Oops…make that Good old Old Spice. What American male hasn’t slapped the aftershave on his cheeks, or spread a few drops of Old Spice cologne behind his ears before a date?
It was my first aftershave -- even before I started shaving very much. The smell of Old Spice signaled that you were, by gosh, no longer a boy, but a man, even if you were somewhere in between.
Thoughts of Old Spice came back recently with news reports that the “Old Spice Guy” (click HERE for the link) commercials have become a sensation on YouTube. Google Old Spice and you’ll find out why it has become one of the most popular social media advertising campaigns of all time. It’s gone viral, as they say.
But I have mixed thoughts about Old Spice because of an incident in my youth – we’re talking late teens here – involving the popular aftershave. It might make a boy-cum-man smell pretty good, but don’t try it in your car to cover other, um, less attractive odors.
Let me explain. One time I placed a grocery bag containing a carton of milk on the floor of the back seat of our family car. The carton leaked, soaking the carpet with milk. Oh well, I thought, it’s only milk. I sopped it up with a sponge and doused it with water and got on with my life, such as it was at the time.
It wasn’t long, however, before the summer heat began to produce an odd smell inside the car. Well, odd might not be the best description. Odd at first, maybe, then as summer went on, rotten, then disgusting, then putrid. By August, the inside of the car smelled like what I would imagine the odor would be if we had left a dead body in the car for weeks. It became unbearable.
Milk, I learned from that experience, will do that when left soaking the carpet of a 1952 Lincoln Capri hardtop. Aside from that, though, it was a pretty nice car. Only you couldn’t stand to ride in it.
At the time, I was still very single and would use the car on an occasional date. Inevitably, the day came when I would need it for such a purpose, but what to do about the horrible smell? How could any romance ensue riding around with nose plugs on? Even opening the windows didn’t help.
Ah, ha. Enter Old Spice, my aftershave of choice at the time. I’ll pour Old Spice on the carpet where the milk had spilled and at the very least the interior of the car will smell like a man, I reasoned. What girl could resist that?
So I dumped most of a bottle of the after-shave on the carpet, confident that I had solved the problem.
Turns out, though, that I had not solved the problem. Oh, the car no longer smelled like a decomposing dead body had been left in the back seat. It smelled like a decomposing musk ox had been left in the back seat. Old Spice had turned the perfectly normal stench of an unattended dead body into a sickly sweet odor that called up olfactory memories of every rancid stink you had ever experienced, including poorly vented outhouses.
Try that on a date on a warm summer night.
To bring this to a conclusion, we ended up tearing the carpeting out of the car, right down to bare metal floorboards. But the fetid odor persisted so we ended up getting rid of the car.
As for me, I switched to Aqua Velva for a while, then English Leather. Now I wear nothing at all. On my face, that is.