We must have looked a rather strange site as we wandered into Boots, line astern late on Tuesday evening, my wife and I with our 13 year old son and our daughter.
It is half term, already, and after a couple of recent incidents when our son had sought to mask his adolescent ‘musk’ with one of the proprietary and much advertised brands of body spray so thickly that it was like a wall of chemicals coming towards you from about 5 metres away, his mother and I decided that at 13 years of age it was about time he had a proper scent to wear.
Before we went I re read our article on selecting scent and remembered the wise words of the Deborah Gayle from the Refinery in London when she advised me that you should always test a new scent on your skin rather than on the lifeless paper strips which are proffered for testing.
When I say ‘proper’ what I mean is moving up from the mass marketed body sprays, straight past the sport’s star and car brand synthetic scents and on to something genuine that we can all probably enjoy as long as he avoids bathing in it.
The first issue we came across was not one I had thought about or anticipated, that was to explain to our Young Gentleman what ‘eau de toilette’ was but after a brief session which is unlikely to help him with his half term French homework we move on to the heaving shelves.
I don’t remember there being this many brands or sub brands of smellies when I was a lad, mind you then it was a relatively easy choice. I just used what my Dad used – Old Spice. I know it’s making something of a comeback but I don’t think it’s quite hip enough for today’s youngsters.
We also swerved around some of the old favourites like Aramis which smell dated to me and probably suited to an older age group. I’m also not keen on him selecting any of my older favourites.
One thing that becomes perfectly clear from early on is that the idea that what I thought could become some father son bonding process spread over a number of days or weeks with a careful evaluation of each scent is never going to happen, we are heading out of here with a coloured bottle today, come what may.
The idea of bypassing the paper slips also goes out of the window, scents are sprayed and tried, dismissed and marked as possible but there is rapidly one emerging which appears the favourite. This is the only one actually sprayed onto his wrists and wiped over for effect. Then after a two minute walk around the store to check out the effect fully the decision is made.
We emerge with a 750cl bottle of Ralph Lauren Polo which cost well over £60, the great thing is that it smells very good, is acceptable to the whole family, doesn’t wash over you like an escape from a very cheap chemical weapons factory and has, to date been used sparingly as recommended by his mother and I.
So another part of the growing up process is underway, the tricky path from youth to Gentleman is being negotiated and this time we almost came up smelling of roses.