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Assenting to scent: Let us spray


AS A MAN, I'm used to negotiating my way past the men's fragrance counters of department stores, only to have a wild-eyed woman in a silk blouse and leather mini-skirt, a frozen smile on her face, lunge at me with a small bottle and chirp: "Nautica?" or "Tommy Hilfiger?" or "CK/be from Calvin Klein?"

E9 If you slow down at all or show the slightest hesita-

tion, these women will grab your hand and spray it with whatever fragrance they're pushing.

And if you don't immediately reach into your pocket and fish out 85 bucks or whatever the stuff costs, they get this hurt look on their faces, like a basset hound that's been whacked with a newspaper for no reason.

But this tall, Nordic-looking scent pusher who cornered me the other day, oh, she was good.

I had almost made it past the perimeter of the men's fragrance section when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw her coming.

Quickly, I tried an evasive maneuver into Hats and Scarves.

But she was locked on me like an F-16 on an Iraqi fighter jet. With three or four brisk strides, she was next to me, a small, clear spray bottle poised in her hand, ready to strike.

Then she flashed that trademark eerie smile. "Michael Jordan?" she asked.

Well. Within a millisecond, it became clear I was dealing with someone who was severely disturbed and somehow thought I was Michael Jordan.

I never know how to act around these people. So I started backing up slowly, holding up my hands in a non-threatening manner to show I meant no harm.

"Actually," I said, "I work for a newspaper. Oh, I suppose in a certain light someone could look at me and think I'm Michael Jor--"

"No, no!" she cried, laughing a bit too hard and pointing to the bottle. "Michael Jordan Cologne! Would the gentleman care to try some?"

At this point, the first thought to run through my mind was: Michael Jordan has a cologne?!

As if talking to a small child, the tall, Nordic-looking woman (whose name turned out to be Erika, honest) went on to explain the new, ahem, Michael Jordan Fragrance Collection.

This consists, I was told, of: the 3.4-ounce Cologne Spray for $35, the 1.7-ounce Cologne Spray for $23, and the 0.5-ounce Deluxe Travel Size Cologne Spray for $12.

Which led to my second thought: Who wants to smell like Michael Jordan?

I don't say this to be nasty, either.

It's just that, as a former sportswriter, I have been in the Chicago Bulls locker room on a number of occasions. And I can tell you this: you wouldn't want to smell like any of those guys. At least not right after a game. Some of them smell so ripe it would make a buzzard queasy.

Then again, I've also been around Michael Jordan after he's freshly showered and shaved. And he smelled OK.

I mean, I don't ever remember looking at the guy wistfully and thinking: "Gee, I wish I smelled like Mike."

Anyway, all this was running through my mind as Erika stood before me expectantly, with her little spray bottle poised to deliver a test blast.

These people face rejection dozens of times a day. Men are always growling "No thanks" and waving them off, and I didn't have the heart to do this to Erika.

So I said, "Let me try it." Her eyes lit up. Then she sprayed some Michael Jordan Cologne on the back of my hand.

It smelled ... OK. Frankly, it was a little too intense for my taste, but this was not something I felt I could share with Erika at this time.

"What is that, extract of violet?" I said. "With a hint of vanilla? And wood overtones? There's a lilac base in there, too, isn't there?"

To tell you the truth, I don't know what the hell I was saying. These scent pushers make me so nervous, I just start babbling whatever comes to mind.

The whole time I was babbling, Erika kept looking at me with those big blue eyes. So eventually I caved in and bought a bottle.

Maybe I'll give it to my 14-year-old -- this kid would slap Amoco unleaded on his face if he thought it would score some points with the babes.

Then again, when I was 14, I was dousing myself with vile stuff like Jade East, Hai Karate and British Sterling, stuff that would cause flies to drop dead off the ceiling.

Now you can smell like Mike.

That has to be a step up.

Pub Date: 11/21/96

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