Found this in an old letter that I never got around to sending and thought I would recycle it. This is from 2004:
Gene recently decided he wanted to make his own cologne so that he didn’t smell like anyone else. He had heard that the Body Shop had ingredients for making one’s own scent, so we stopped in there over the weekend. They had six “essential oil” scents in tester bottles for combining. We were fiddling around with them when one of the store employees — clearly the kind of girl who would describe herself as “a little bit psychic” without irony — oozed up to us. She took Gene by the hand and started massaging his forearm.
“You’re looking for a scent that exemplifies who you are, right?” she asked with impressive incorrectness.
“Uh,” said Gene, trying and failing to gently free his arm. “Actually I’m just looking for something that smells good.”
“You’re a strong person,” she said, ignoring him in favor of her corporate soul-reading trance, and rubbing her hands up and down his arm to his extreme dismay. “You’re also passionate. And I’m reading just a hint of citrus.”
“Do you need a scent, too?” another employee asked me as I stood on the sidelines.
“No, thanks,” I said. “I’m just here to watch the lions and the Christians.”
The girl was now dropping little splashes of various oils onto Gene’s still-trapped arm, pausing after each one to smell it and then encourage him to smell it. “It’s good, right?” she encouraged him. “Cinnamon. And here’s a little hint of chocolate. And the slightest breath of mint. And some grapefruit.” You can imagine.
For the next two days, every hour was punctuated by Gene sniffing his arm and mournfully declaring, “I still smell.” I don’t think it’s worn off yet; we might have to employ steel wool. In the meantime I continue to get my cologne fix from all the beautifully-scented men of the Castro. I’m thinking I might just eliminate the middle man and start wearing Gene’s old cologne myself. Don’t you think that would be a magnificent, Georges Sand kind of thing to do?
Three years later, the scent has mostly worn off, but he never did find the perfect smell. Holler out if anyone has a suggestion. Eau de Concrete?