The other day while on my lunch break downtown, I got caught behind a man wearing a cloud of fragrance that sent me screaming back to the eighth grade. This man had apparently just bathed in a bathtub of Polo cologne, and I was hopelessly left in his wake.
At first I coughed – and then I smiled, altering my route to follow him an extra block – no joke. There are few things in life as powerful as a sense memory, and smells rank at the top. The smell of this complete stranger and his Polo-bath yanked me back to junior high in the 80s, and I just couldn’t help but linger a little longer there.
Polo cologne, hitting the scent scene in 1978, was a young man’s 80s staple. Drakkar Noir and Cool Water trailed far behind Polo – the official king of pre-teen-boy-stink. The smell of Friday nights, school dances, and first kisses in the back of movie theaters.
Every boy in junior high was wearing the stuff in the fancy green bottle – the poor school bus driver, the bus just reeked of the heavy, woodsy smell. My gaggle of girlfriends and I loved it and drank in the smell on the Member’s Only jacket’s lent to us by various fourteen-year-old-crushes.
The Ralph Lauren website describes Polo as follows:
Celebrating the timeless appeal of the sporting lifestyle, Ralph Lauren’s legendary Polo fragrance blends the very best of wood, leather and other natural scents to convey a handsome, enduring character.
I don’t think many boys at my junior high school celebrated “the sporting lifestyle” – I think mostly they celebrated their Camaros, Foreigner and eating as many rolls as they possibly could at school lunch.
And here’s the thing – the cologne wasn’t/isn’t bad – it’s just SO FRIGGIN’ STRONG – combine that with the fact that these were young boys who didn’t know that less is more. You can compare it to when us girls could clear a room with our stinky Obsession or Poison perfumes – again – less is more. Much less, in fact.
The sight of that hunter green bottle with the little gold man on a horse at the men’s fragrance department makes me all nostalgic – I’ll sneak a whiff and breathe in 1985 for a minute or two. Then I cough and wonder who’s buying this stuff today? I mean, besides that guy who sent my scent-memory into overdrive the other day? Perhaps this guy? My freshman year homecoming date?
Yep, probably this guy.