Friday, March 28, 2008

On cologne...and friendship

I'll admit it...I'm a bit of a cologne junkie...but I never sat down and analyzed why, or what's behind it.

Until recently. Interested? Read on...

...but first, a little about me.

In describing who I am, one person was once quoted as saying:
"...he can tell you EXACTLY what's on his mind...which is not always pretty...but it comes straight from the heart."

Sure...that's probably pretty accurate about part of me. While I can have my "animated" moments, off-color humor, progressive political opinions, seething anger about the state of the planet and environment, and deliver brutal honesty at times (which isn't always a bad thing in the larger picture, and necessary at times), for the most part I consider myself to be a rather mellow, down to earth guy.

I can also tell you what I am not. I'm not into glitz and glamour, as I don't envy the "Hollywood lifestyle"...even a little bit. Most of it makes me want to vomit; the affairs and divorces, the constant spotlights and lack of privacy, the ugliness of bad behavior and addiction, the entitlement attitudes, and that whole selling of the soul thing. The whole whirlwind of it all and how many families it destroys. Very very sad stuff.

So all that being said, as I wouldn't consider myself "high class" or "foofy" (whatever that means, but it sounded appropriate), the variety of colognes I have in my medicine cabinet do have a special value in my life.

For me, they're attached to memories and people I know. That translates into moods and what I'm feeling on a certain day, and that dictates what I pull out of the medicine cabinet.
I have a rotation of about 10 varieties.

Some are what I'd call my "top tier" colognes, and I tend to gravitate toward what I refer to as the "musky" "water-based" and "sea salt" types of
scents: Hugo Boss, Azzaro Chrome, Davidoff Cool Water, Nautica Latitude-Longitude, Alfred Sung (I like the purple color of it too), and a old favorite discontinued many years ago by H2O Plus, called Waves.

My "second tier" ones I tend to prefer less due to the nature of the scent (usually gifts, and unfortunately just not my type), but I find ways to use them...they're what I might wear when exercising or for more casual situations: various scents from the Avon's men's line such as
Far Away and Tempest, a Garden Botanica brand called Botanika (my personal fav of my 2nd tier set), a brand called Santa Fe, and an old discontinued brand from the 80s called Emotions.

So there it is, the whole world can now judge me on my cologne collection...but before you make any snap judgments, there's something running a bit deeper here.

I can count the number of TRUE friends that I have on probably one hand...I'm talking
about people who you'd risk your life for...who you'd put your reputation on the line for...who know your faults and secrets...who knew you when you were a scrawny little shit. That kind of friend.

With these friends, our history typically goes back many many years to high school or college, and in some cases even elementary school. Many memories, many fun times...and definitely some dark times too. They're the people I weathered many storms with, and whom I safeguard many subjects with in confidence.

There's only one nagging issue with a majority of these friendships, however, due to no fault of anyone. While we keep in close touch through phone and email, and plan visits and vacations together, we all happen to live far apart from each other. We're scattered across several different states, and we all seem to be travel junkies as some of us leaving the country for months at a time is becoming a recurring pattern. All this is a testament to the individuality, success, resourcefulness, and desire for an enriched life experience of everyone involved.

So recently, one of these friends I speak of, who I met in college and was currently living 5
minutes away from me relocated to his hometown out of state. While I'll miss him, it was a healthy move and something he needed to do. For his going away dinner, I was trying to think of a gift for him, and recalled the days when we lived together in Arizona and a cologne he used to wear, Davidoff's Cool Water.

He actually introduced me to the stuff...and it came on the market in 1988, the year we first
met. How 'bout that. So while I realized he had probably moved onto other colognes, I decided for nostalgia's sake to pick up a set of the old stuff for him.

So the thought occurred to me today, as I was putting on some Cool Water enroute to no special event or place of particular importance, of how a scent can remind you of an old friend. For me, that's what my cologne collection represents...memories and friendships. It's almost more about the memory than it is about the actual scent.

So as the day goes on, the scent might fade a bit, but the friendships and memories only grow stronger.

I'll end this post with an appropriate passage that's very dear to me; a read from The Prophet by Kalil Gibran.

On Friendship
Kahlil Gibran

Your friend is your needs answered.

He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.

And he is your board and your fireside.

For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.

When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the "nay" in your own mind, nor do you withhold the "ay."

And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart;

For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unacclaimed.

When you part from your friend, you grieve not;

For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.

And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.

For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable is caught.

And let your best be for your friend.
If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.

For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?

Seek him always with hours to live.

For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.

And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.

For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.

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