This post was apparently written under the influence of Carolina Herrera CH Men. Please forgive the mess. This is what happens when you miss your chance to buy a fragrance at full price in the duty free, and wind up buying it at a perfume kiosk.
Alas, I was only looking for an honest designer fragrance with a reasonably well-executed tobacco note. Was that really so much to ask in my ancient world?
I looked high and low for a good tobacco cologne from any of the major designers in ancient Greece. I found nothing. True, I am forced to admit that tobacco wasn’t discovered by men of my kind for another two millenia. That may, indeed, have had something to do with its scarcity in ancient European fragrance. And I don’t think we had “designers” as such. But still. We should have at least had some sort of perfume that smelled like tobacco. Even those beachcombing idiots in Cyprus had a unique fragrance of durable merit. So – off I went, into the future, in search of an honest designer tobacco fragrance.
In my quest for this, I was led to inhabit the mind and body of one Redneck Perfumisto – a rather scruffy but well-fed rustic, who resides approximately two-and-a-half millenia in the future. Admittedly, the accommodations were a bit wobbly, but after sleeping in a tub for over 2000 years, almost anything feels good. And I do have to say – when the old boy “RP” sees a fragrance on his “buy” list, I can really step on the accelerator, so to speak, and get that lard ass into motion.
The future is interesting. It is a time when proper Greek words are used only for the strange, the trivial, and various diseases or diseased parts. There is a place called Greece, but it is filled with people completely unlike those of my own time. The Greece of the future belongs to a league of nations called PIGS, which is poor and powerless, and constantly begging for money from one called BRICs, which was poor only yesterday, but is now rich, frisky, and looking to get laid. Which brings me to the land of tobacco and – *cough* – other things. Located somewhat inconveniently west of Atlantis.
America is even more interesting than the future per se. It is basically a land of immigrants, and was the last land upon the planet [note to fellow philosophers – roundness confirmed] to be settled by humans. Those first inhabitants still exist fairly undisturbed in some places, and disturbed but socially intact in others. However, to a large extent, they were absorbed into a flood of immigrants who arrived about 2000 years after my own life. Thus, the inhabitants look roughly like men of Europe, Africa and Asia, but changed in a rather distinctive way, of which they remain, curiously, almost unaware. It is only when you stand them up in numbers, next to men of their forefathers’ lands, that the difference is noticeable.
But while many men and their customs flooded into America, many things flooded out. Not the least of these was a certain plant – tobacco – which contains both stimulant properties and a pleasant odor when burned. It was this combination which gave tobacco enduring power as a fragrance, for although it is not as pleasant a smoke as those of the various resinoids from Asia Minor, its stimulant properties assured the undying popularity of its smoke.
Which brings me full circle. Back to people. And, of course, people mean politics. And politics mean lies.
Allow me to explain.
As people grew in number, and became rather commonplace, their value to each other diminished in proportion. Rather than valuing the days of their living, and the quality of those days, it became the fashion of men – especially in politics – to value the cost of their dying. Obvious to a cynic that this would happen, but apparently surprising to men of that era.
Tobacco, when burned, is prone to produce atomic combinations which are, quite literally, slow poisons. Like the soot which shortens the lives of smiths and potters, the smoke of tobacco will kill the one who smells it chronically. Thus, men who breathe smoke will surely die young, and at some cost, if they should choose to fight death with the aid of physicians and medicaments.
The problem is that it’s expensive for people to die before you’ve gotten everything out of them that you can. So – the politically smart thing to to is to make them live longer, even if they don’t enjoy themselves in the process. So – clearly – they can’t enjoy tobacco. But yet they do. Even if it’s just in perfume.
Well, what if the powers that be, could conspire to make tobacco unfashionable?
Aha! The true explanation of tobacco’s enduring yet inscrutably unfashionable popularity. People like it, but they’re not supposed to.
Of course, there are always certain reprobates and diminished minds who don’t follow the prescribed fashions adequately, and my wonderfully backward host, Redneck Perfumisto, proved to be one of those. With a nose for tobacco and wrong-headed politics, he chose in mid-life to give up the smoking of tobacco for business and health purposes, but never stopped loving the stuff. It was with his nose, always on the lookout for a great tobacco note in fragrance, that I chose to pursue my quest for an honest designer tobacco frag.
Walking through the city-state of America, we first came upon a troubadour wearing a black hat, the black boots of a future cow-herder, black clothing, and carrying a modern lyre of some kind. According to my host, this man apparently belonged to a class of people called Metrosexuals. I believe that this means they couple in the moving rooms called Metro, although I have not yet had the pleasure of seeing this occur. This man had several fragrances in his possession. The first, named “McGraw“, smelled not so much of tobacco, but rather of a very pleasant medicament known as whiskey. I was moved to procure it immediately. However, this man also had in his possession another fragrance, called “Southern Blend“, which, although being named specifically for the attractive medicine, smelled to me very much like tobacco.
Despite the obvious smell, I was assured that this fragrance smelled not of tobacco, but of something called “woody amber”. Indeed! I failed to agree with this preposterous idea that my own nose was deceiving me. Not only did I find this assertion questionable – others did as well. According to what I was shown in an induced vision called “Eutube”, a very well-known priestess of the goddess Oprah, who is called Ellen of Daytime, mocked the phrase “woody amber” (or something of the sort) with a very wide-eyed look, at which the rabble laughed. (I surmised that, because “woody” is a vulgarity for penis, and “Amber” is the name of a promiscuous woman or a girl child, the phrase is inherently humorous due to both its craven nature and its impossibility.) Clearly, even the rabble knew that this ridiculous misnomer must have had political purpose. Thus, despite the fact that this fragrance clearly smelt of tobacco to me, it failed to rise to the standard of an honest tobacco fragrance. Any fragrance which denies its own greatest virtue, while claiming impossible and useless ones, may be deemed modest, but cannot be deemed honest. Thus, we were moved to “mosey along”, in the words of my corporeal corporal.
We met a very fancy person, clearly of great wealth and refinement, who showed us fragrances in exquisite jars and boxes. His name was “O’Killian”, I believe, which would make him a descendant of a citizen of PIGS, but not a Greek. In any case, he had a fragrance which was most delightful, and which smelled of both honey and tobacco – to which odors he readily admitted. While I did not choose to purchase this fragrance, my esteemed spiritual Motel 6 did. (Motel 6, by the way, is an inn of great cheapness in the future, where many students sleep together in a single room, while traveling to see their masters. Likewise, this master was forced to share quarters with all kinds of spiritual rabble, including a savage bearing a rather hefty spear, and assorted oddballs known as “characters”. Surely an experience not to be missed.)
In any case, and particularly my own, the question boiled down to whether or not the O’Killian family business was considered “designer” or “niche”. As a citizen of ancient Greece, I had no idea how to make this distinction, or even whether it was important. However, Redneck Perfumisto assured me that it was, and that the easiest way to determine if something is designer or niche is by ascertaining if the maker also produces handbags for women (“handbags” are how women of the future carry their coinage, their perfumes, and their spoken and inscribed prayers to the gods “Twitter” and “Facebook”). Because the O’Killians do not make common items like handbags, they are thus in the higher caste of nobles called niche. For this reason, my search for an honest designer tobacco fragrance remained unfulfilled.
We next met two rather interesting thin men, who appeared to be battle runners, known as Victory and ROTFL. They had a fragrance, the jar of which was in fact a military device of the future known as a grenade. The name of the palm-sized death machine was a “Spicebomb“, and the fragrance was in fact a type of weapon of the future known as chemical warfare. In the future, the armies of most nations employ Amazons, due to their insistence on fighting, as well as their fearsome vocal abilities, which strike terror into the hearts of men, and particularly their husbands and lovers. The Spicebomb is designed to disarm such women, allegedly making them disrobe even of their undergarments in the midst of battle (the vulgarity used by troops is “panty-dropper”).
I was given chance to sniff the poison of the Spicebomb, and was startled to learn that the device employs tobacco. In retrospect, it is clear that the stimulant properties of tobacco explain the military effects of the Spicebomb. Furthermore, my host, Redneck Perfumisto, was quick to point out that Victory and ROTFL make handbags, qualifying them as designers. However, when asked about the tobacco, it soon became apparent that even these two battle-hardened men could not bring themselves to claim the presence of a tobacco note, much less a tobacco-derived component, against the orders of various new empires and their sundry written and unwritten laws against tobacco.
“The notes include bergamot, pink pepper, cinnamon, vetiver, red pepper and….. and….. and….. tobacco accord.”
Tobacco accord? Good grief – what kind of warrior speaks of “accord” so easily? Why even bother mentioning tobacco? Clearly there is so much lack of pride here, in the actual tobacco component, that it is impossible to see this fragrance as anything more than a reluctant designer tobacco fragrance.
Thus, we were forced to look further.
Driven from all good places of business, our quest seemed at an end. The idea of an honest tobacco fragrance, proud of its own nature, seemed impossible in this future time of political fear and mendacity, known as “correctness”. In desperation, Redneck Perfumisto turned to what is called a “kiosk” – belittled and ridiculed in this future era, yet appearing for all practical purposes like a typical market vendor in my own. Rejoicing that I had found something familiar, I spurred my sordid psychological stallion to browse in this greener pasture.
Redneck Perfumisto made various remarks designed to deflect the attentions of the proprietress, a young lady of uncertain extraction, but most likely from Asia Minor. I noted that the shop owner, surely a man of shady nature, was nowhere in sight. Redneck Perfumisto pointed out a bottle of something called “Thallium“, which he assured me is a poorly regarded, inferior fragrance, named after a poisonous atom with the special distinction of being an element. Clearly named after Thales, I was aghast that the father of science should be treated so badly, in that even an average fragrance would have been preferable, to say nothing of the poisonous element named in his honor. However, Redneck Perfumisto assured me that any quality of “celebrity fragrance” is acceptable, since these are rarely used as more than visual adornments, and that men of good character fight over the naming of the elements, even the poisonous ones. I will thus make a special effort to go back in time and let Thales know that he is held in high regard in the future, along with modern philosophers such as Britney Spears and Madonna.
As Redneck Perfumisto quickly scanned the various fragrances for sale, his expert eye determined that the mix was typical of larger establishments known as “discount stores”, with only a limited stock of the Thales fragrance, bespeaking a kiosk of atypical honesty. He noted that the boxes holding the fragrances had certain qualities which vouched for their having most likely been produced in PIGS using components from BRICs, and not the other way around, which is somehow worse. He held out that this was a good sign, meaning that we were unlikely to be duped by the various schemes typical of such establishments.
It was then that I spotted a box which lacked the extremely thin form of glass which is used to guarantee the originality of the contents therein. I pointed this out to Redneck Perfumisto, that perhaps he was mistaken about the honesty of this seller. But my furry friend thought the opposite, and quickly concocted his own scheme. He noted that there were no other bottles of this particular fragrance present, and assured me that he was intimately familiar with its smell, thanks to a friend of his – a mason in a distant land called Penn’s Forest – who had shared some with him. Thus, he would ask to sniff that particular bottle, and if satisfied of its quality and authenticity, would ask for it and it alone, since acting thusly he could not possibly be tricked into buying a poorly made imitation from BRICs.
We sniffed the bottle. Immediately, I rejoiced! There was a subtle yet unmistakable tobacco note, surrounded by the odor of leather, and all of it cleverly supporting a well-crafted fruity odor which typifies this perfume. The fragrance itself is symbolized by the bottle, which features a red ribbon of victory, bearing the symbol of the maker, against a background of dark leather. Redneck Perfumisto pointed out that this was the fabled Corinthian leather, made expressly to bless the reign of a future king by the name of Khan, on a distant world. Indeed, there is even a proclamation on the side of the box, stating that the maker of the perfume, a noblewoman by the name of Carolina Herrera, certifies the authenticity of this leather. Happy that we had found an exquisite fragrance in a genuine bottle honoring the place of my death, I dared to inquire whether it might also have an honest tobacco note, thus ending my quest. We consulted Redneck Perfumisto’s religious book called iPad, and discovered that – sadly – tobacco was not even mentioned for this fragrance.
I was quite dejected, in a happy way, that the world was just as terrible as I had thought, without the existence of an honest tobacco note in a recent designer fragrance. However, Redneck Perfumisto pointed out that we had made a discovery of even greater rarity – a nearly honest kiosk. Thus, I am now in the pleasant possession of this knowledge, as well as a wonderful fragrance reminding me of the place of my passing, Corinth, which is further honored by a special type of leather. Clearly, the naming of a leather used by the future emperor of a distant world, is to be preferred to the dubious fame of being featured in two pamphlet chapters of some Johnny-come-lately religion.
While I can recommend this particular fragrance, I cannot recommend travel to this future world. Even one such as I, quite used to deprivation, found the accommodations both primitive and rough, to say nothing of their unpredictability. Forced to bunk with an assortment of barbarians and strangers from various times, it was not what I would call a pleasant experience. Still, it had a certain terrible charm, likeable to men of my nature.
In fact, I may even return there – if only to meet a certain lovely Germanic woman by the name of Schadenfreude, who Redneck Perfumisto assures me is both “my type”, and an avid collector of fragrances such as the one honoring Thales.
Oh, happy day.
UPDATE: Michelyn Camen has pointed out that Kilian now sells itty-bitty handbags in his boutique. We suggest buying Back to Black as soon as possible, before it becomes a “sport” fragrance.