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“Joey?  Is that…?”

“Oh my God, Silvio.  It is!  It’s Terry Hermez!  What on Earth is he doing in the food court?”

“Well, maybe he’s sampling Little Kyoto.  I can’t imagine what else.  It’s like finding your mom in the meth part of town.  Something’s wrong.”

“Well, it could be Chicken Stickin’.  Their Cajun bourbon chicken is to die for – even on paper.  So who’s he with?  I can’t see behind that plastic plant.”

“Jean jacket.  Cowboy hat.  Oh, God….”

“Snake?”

“Well, that explains that.”

“Perfect excuse to barge in on Terry.  Lets.”

“Does Snakey look a bit under the weather to you?  He certainly does to me.  I hope he’s not drinking again.”

“No.  He looks worried.  I know that look.”

“Do you think he really screwed up this time?  Maybe his poor wife has finally had enough.”

“Let’s hope not.  The D-word shall NOT be allowed in this generation of the Family Waters.  And that goes for you, too.”

“Absolutely.  Your nephew will come from a broken home when they pry chopsticks from our cold, dead fingers.  Barge away.”

**************************************************

“Terry!  Snake!”

“Joseph!  Silvio!  What a pleasure.  It’s a Waters family reunion!  Please – sit down.”

“If you don’t mind.  I feel like we’ve been shopping forever.  Snake?  Do you mind terribly if we barge in?”

“Not at all, bro.  Terry was just…”

“That shirt is you, Silvio.  I’m jealous.  Nothing ever looks that good on me.”

“Watch it, Terry.  You’ll give him a big head.  The last thing I need is a diva on my hands.”

“Thanks, Terry.  It’s my consultant, Natasha.  She’s a miracle worker.”

“Heck, Silvio.  You are a fashion consultant.  What’s up with that?”

“Snake, really.  It would be like practicing medicine on myself.  No good could possibly come of it.  Besides, it’s something like Straight Eye for the Queer Guy.”

“Yeah, OK.  I understand.  I think.”

“So what’s with the long face, dear brother?  Is everything alright?”

“Well, I’m kind of bummed.  Terry’s trying to help me out here.”

“Terry?  What’s your diagnosis?  Nothing serious, is it?”

“No, not at all.  Snake is just experiencing a little Creed regret.  That’s all.”

“Creed regret?  Snake!  How wonderful.  You bought Creed!”

“Yeah.  It was my first.”

“And you’re not loving it – right?”

“I don’t know what happened.  I loved it in the store.  I just had to have it.  But something happened.  I don’t even like it now.  And the stuff cost an arm and a leg, too.”

“Of course it did.  Terry?  What do you think?”

“I’m trying to get him not to return the bottle.”

“A return?  How gauche!  Only a deceptive reformulation deserves such rude treatment.  Really.  Snake – it’s just Creed regret.  Hang in there.  You’ll get over it.  And you’ll love it just like all your others.”

“Which one did you buy?”

“Original Santal.”

“Oh, God.  You’re probably applying it like a regular cologne, too.”

“Snake, Snake, Snake!  Dear bro – you simply can’t go around treating Creeds like Aqua Velva – it won’t work.”

“Joey – is it OK to laugh?  I’m sorry.  It feels like schadenfreude.”

“Go right ahead, love.  Really.  Original Santal.  You were probably coming off like a 4-alarm fire at the barbeque pit.”

“You mean…?”

“Yes, Snake.  It’s NOT a sport cologne.  Good Lord.  The world would be safer if you had a bottle of Kouros in each hand.”

“Terry?  Do you want to explain it to him?  I’m sorry.  You were probably already…”

“No, this is perfect.  You’ve done the hard part already.  I should have called you two right from the beginning.  Sometimes it’s easier when a family member explains things.  Go ahead.  Why don’t you go on?”

“Gladly.  Snake – do you remember what happened when you loved OS?  You were in Saks, right?”

“Yeah.  The lady behind the counter – and she was a really cutie, too – she, like, sprayed one o’ them little Creed cards…”

“Yes – and how did she do it?”

“Kinda like so…”

“Freeze!  Right there.  Take a look at your arms.”

“Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle.”

“See?  She even sprayed the card from three feet away.  And you need it to be even lighter.”

“So that’s all?”

“No.  That’s not all.  Silvio?  Do your magic.”

“With pleasure.  Snake – let’s start with OS.  It’s simply not you.”

“It ain’t?”

“No, dearie.  It’s not.  I’m sure you can wear it, but not every day.  Good Lord, Snake.  It’s a Bombay flamethrower.  I’m sure there are nights when it would work for you, but you need a Creed that you can really love.  OS is just penetrating.  Luca Turin called it cloying, even.  I have an African lady I’m working with – she wears outrageously beautiful things.  Colors – white – black – she does whatever she wants.  Fabric everywhere, or nowhere in sight.  Tall – thin – she bares a shoulder and men drop their forks.  She needs crowd control wherever she goes.  She wears OS, and it makes her a goddess.”

“What?  Are you saying it’s a chick scent?”

“Really, Snake.  Joey?  Explain.”

“Snake – not even every woman can wear it.  Some men.  Some women.  And only sometimes.  It’s an accessory scent….   It’s like red high heels.  Really tall ones.”

“But I like it when the wife wears those!”

“Yes, but not every day.  You don’t want your lovely wife wearing them when she goes out to get a gallon of milk, or visit a sick friend.  Because if she does, it’s not a gallon of milk – or a sick friend.  Comprende?”

“Oh, I get it.  It’s hot stuff.”

“Precisely.  Think of OS as your shiny, dark red leather cowboy boots.  With pointed toes that hurt like hell.  You’re only going to wear those for the ZZ Top concert.  Maybe edgier Nashville – whatever.”

“OK.  Well that means that I need some regular boots for everyday.”

“Bingo!  Silvio – back to you.”

“Wonderful.  Well, I’m thinking we need to err on the side of sport scent this time.  Something light, so that if he overdoes it, no harm done.  Something brown.  Brown leather – soft, rustic.  Maybe sophisticated, but it could show up in a country bar and not be out of place.  Tobacco, maybe?  Remember – this one isn’t to please the wife.  We’re rescuing Snakey from Creed regret.  We want him to love Creed again.  Something he could wear every day, if he had to.  But manly.  I’m thinking there’s only one thing.  Terry?  Can you guess what it is I’m thinking?”

“Absolutely, Silvio.  You’re a genius.  Beloved by the proprietor of the world’s most famous gin joint.  Not to mention the man who saved the world from Hitler.  Although in Snake’s case, you’re probably thinking the light version.”

“Humphrey Bogart saved the world from Hitler?  Heck – it was only a movie!”

“No, Snake.  Winston Churchill.  Both Bogey and Winny loved this scent.  More specifically, its older brother.  That one’s a bit out of your league.  In theory, even this one’s too classy for you.  But the old-school and tobacco thing brings you into the fold.  It’s like a subscription to Cigar Aficionado.  Nobody would laugh in your case.”

“Well, are you going to tell me what it is?”

“I’ve got an even better idea!  Let’s all go to Saks and try it on!”

**************************************************

“Wow!  This is good stuff!  It’s kind of familiar.  I could swear I’ve worn something almost like this before.  Something really recent.  Any idea what it is?”

“Great question.  Silvio?”

“Well, any of the recent tobacco scents.  However, I caution you that most tobacco scents have a much heavier and more distinct tobacco note than Creed’s Tabarome Millesime.  The tobacco note in this one is hidden in some complexity.  Actually, among recent entries, I find the overall effect most similar to Usher for Men – of which I am NOT a fan.  That soft, velvety drydown that Usher has is somewhat reminiscent of Tabarome Millesime’s.  But Usher has a different accord.  Brighter.  Soft yellow, if that makes any sense.  TM’s base is much gentler.  Fainter.  Brown.  Complex.  Similar softness, different scent.  This is a great scent that stays close to the skin.  Your wife will be nuzzling up to you to get a whiff of this one.”

“Well, I like that idea!  And this is pretty mild.  I won’t be hiding in the corner of the elevator, like I was with Original Santal.”

“No, you won’t.  Gad.  Let me off at the next floor.”

“Gentlemen – why don’t you try this?  Here….   Watch….”

“Oh, interesting!  Did you see what she did, Snake?”

“Yeah – both Tabarome Millesime and Original Santal.  On the same card.”

“It’s called layering.  Here – see what you think.”

“Hey – that’s not bad.”

“Many people find that a mix of Tabarome Millesime and Original Santal hits a sweet spot in the middle.  Spicier than TM, but not as overpowering as OS.  Like pipe tobacco.”

“Cool!  That means that I don’t have to let my OS just sit there.  I can use it more often than just ZZ Top concerts!”

“See, Snake?  The answer isn’t less Creed.  It’s more Creed!”

“It’s like Natasha says – you simply can’t have too much Creed.”

“Great!  You guys are lifesavers!”

“Not a problem.  All in a day’s shopping.”

“Um.  there’s just one more thing.  I might need you to float me a little cash.  I’m kind of broke after buying that big bottle of Original Santal.”

“Joey?”

“Yes?”

“What are you thinking?”

“Right now?”

“Yes.  Right now.”

“Easy.  No good Creed goes unpunished.”


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