Cologne: A Confession

Spritzing on cologne is a part of my getting-ready-to-go routine as much as brushing my teeth. Smelling nice is my brand. Unless I’m walking the dog, going to the grocery, or hitting the gym, I’m packing fragrance.

When it comes to cologne (and men), I’m a serial monogamist. Over the years, my preferences have changed, but, except for an experimental phase in college and most of the 1980s, I’ve been faithful to one cologne at a time since seventh grade.

Old Spice was my first love and gateway fragrance. Mom hooked us up for my first dance. We had tons of it around the house — remnants of gift boxes my dad received for Christmas, Father’s Day, and his birthday. After that introduction, our Old Spice hoard was rapidly depleted.

For Christmas that year or the next, Mom gave me a Brut gift set. I burned through it well before my early March birthday, and another gallon or so more before leaving junior high. Call me studly.

In high school I graduated to British Sterling, then stepped up to English Leather, and, after a Hai Karate binge, landed in the world of Jovan musk oils. The regular Jovan was my main spritz until I fell for Jovan Grass oil. There may have been a brief affair with a third Jovan I can no longer recall. Internet searches didn’t refresh my memory either.

The college years are a hazy mix of Chaps, Stetson, Drakkar Noir, and Halston (not the pricey Z-14, but the cheaper 1-12). There were others. I can see the bottles, but the names escape me. What can I say? It was college.

Then I got on the hard stuff and had to drop out. Patchouli oil. Thick, dark, and stanky. At the time, I worked in the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy stockroom. Anyone who came in stopped, sniffed, and asked about the musky odor. #PointOfPride

During my patchouli phase, I fell head over heels in love for the first time. A few months after we got together, he moved back to a tiny town deep in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. He could smell my frequent letters as soon as he walked into the post office to get his mail.

I don’t remember much about the 80s. Does anyone who was there? By the end of the decade, I’d settled down with Quorum.

I thought I’d found “the one.” Quorum and I were happy together for many years. Then, one day, I couldn’t find it anywhere. I searched high and low, but the love of my life seemed to have vanished from the face of the earth.

Finding a replacement was a huge challenge. It’s not like you can walk up to the perfume counter and smell all the options. After two, they all blend together. But I was out of Quorum and, despite the importance of the decision, had to commit.

In the end I settled on Eternity for Men for reasons I no longer recall. We’ve had our ups and downs. Eternity for Women came home with me several times before I finally learned to check. #SlowLearner

As my bottle of Eternity neared its final spritz, I thought more and more about ending our years-log relationship. Even the best price was more than I wanted to spend to extend our time together. I started separating freshly laundered shirts from the Eternity-laced shirts I return to the closet after wearing.

Then it hit me. The retail gods no longer determine what I can and can’t buy. I searched the internet and found my old friend, Quorum. The large economy size (3.4 ounces) of eau de toilette was less than $20.


Moments after UPS dropped off my old love, I gave myself a good spritz, wrinkled my nose, and grimaced. Something had changed, and it wasn’t the fragrance with the trademarked formula. Years of wearing the good shit had changed me. I could hardly stand to be in the same room with the stuff.

But somehow, someway, we had to make it work. Ask anyone who knows me. I’m too cheap to toss a twenty-dollar bottle of eau do toilette in the trash.

That weekend, I wore a lightly-spritzed sweatshirt around the house. Then I stepped up to walking through a cloud of Quorum spritz before graduating to a single blast in the chest. After a few days, I could barely even smell it anymore.

I don’t know what anyone else thinks, but Quorum and I have worked things out. We’re in it for the long haul too — or at least until my 3.4 ounce bottle runs out. I’ll keep you posted.