Scents to spare

“Has any man,” asks Brian J. Noggle, “ever used a complete bottle of cologne?”

I ask this as a veteran of many annual Estate Saling campaigns. In the homes of older gentlemen, you would often find several half-empty bottles of cologne, which means that these fellows carried these bottles to the end of their retirements (or to their interments in assisted living facilities). The Avon collectible bottles, usually quarts or pints of cologne contained in cars, animals, or other cutesy decanters, were often empty, though — does that mean Avon is more popular? I would ask, but the bored people overpricing the “antiques” (anything not made of chipboard) don’t know.

I can offer only one anecdote, the subject of which is myself.

In 1978, as a newlywed, I was persuaded to switch to Ralph Lauren’s Polo, which was new that year. I got an eight-ounce bottle, which at the time, as I recall, was somewhere around $40, a price I thought was outrageous. (It’s now closer to $100.) The bottle is not yet empty. Then again, it gets brought out for use maybe twice a year, and I must concede, the stuff does seem to retain its potency, even at its advanced age. I’ve definitely gotten my money’s worth.


  1. Nicole »

    16 March 2011 · 7:21 pm

    My husband uses his every day. Not that I get to smell it since he’s at work… but he does go through it. So did my dad. Enough that we got him cologne every Father’s Day. Cologne and chocolate covered raisins. Which prompted him to always comment that we must have thought he stunk and needed to be even fatter. :)

    But my grandfather had the Avon bottle collection thing going on, so…

  2. Brian J. »

    16 March 2011 · 7:44 pm

    8 ounces? In colognemeters, that’s like 250 gallons.

  3. CGHill »

    16 March 2011 · 8:04 pm

    Now imagine if I’d emptied that out in a mere 33 years.

  4. Linda »

    16 March 2011 · 8:56 pm

    LOL I remember high school boys reeking of that Polo back in the 80’s. Bet they went thru more than one bottle!

  5. CGHill »

    16 March 2011 · 9:03 pm

    One thing I have going for me: cheapness.

  6. Tatyana »

    16 March 2011 · 10:28 pm

    I might have said something about a flagon with prophetic name (“One man show”…) that my ex bought 15 years ago…but I’ll be charitable, I’ll wager a guess he’s still using it

  7. Deborah »

    16 March 2011 · 10:52 pm

    I find most cologne for men to be oppressively strong. But I have “doctored” cologne for my husband by diluting it with grain alcohol, witch hazel, and distilled water, which makes it quite tolerable. In fact, if you are given one of those little samples in a stoppered glass bottle, it’s usually enough to make a 3 or 4 ounce bottle of scent, by mixing it with distilled water, grain alcohol, and witch hazel in equal measure. (Don’t tell Ralph Lauren.)

    When I was a teenager, I though Yardley’s Black Label was the best thing I ever smelled. I don’t think it’s made anymore, though.

  8. hatless in hattiesburg »

    19 March 2011 · 3:03 am

    my circa-1983 polo bottle was still a third full when i tossed it out a few years ago. either the remainder had turned bad, or my nose had…

    now i’ve used about that much of some ysl bottle of cologne. when i bought it, i asked the saleslady to “find something that doesn’t burn my nose”, and that was the only scent they had that didn’t.

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