Weird Q: What Does a Dad Smell Like?
Add your dad-smells in the comments below. I feel like we can somehow bottle this.
In partnership with Gucci Guilty Fragrance
My dad has been known to grab limes from table displays and press them under his nose to inhale their citrus rinds. Whether he returns them to their rightful bowls or finds himself the proud owner of a whole fruit for the night is at the discretion of the host or germaphobe who catches him.
Usually I’m the one who catches him, though. And usually I don’t say anything.
Citrus is his favorite smell. He wears verbena cologne and uses lime-scented shaving cream. There is green deodorant stocked in his medicine cabinet and pieces of lemon-y gum floating inside the kitchen junk drawer. Any time a snack or beverage company introduces “hint of lime” as a limited edition flavor, our cabinets and refrigerator burst with inventory. Guess his favorite kind of pie.
As I write this, I’m smelling my own wrist to determine if my dad will take to a new cologne I might give him for Father’s Day. (Also as I write this, I have only a few days left to decide.) It’s called Gucci Guilty Pour Homme and the name is fitting: I feel guilty because this will be the first Father’s Day I give him a “real” gift beyond the hand-made variety, but also because part of me feels like it’s wrong to meddle with the smell that defines him.
Smells are so deeply connected to memory. One sniff can trigger waves of comfort, stabilize the self and bring us home. When I try to trace my dad’s fondness of lime, my theories swirl around his sandy childhood and pin directly on the lapel of his dad — my late grandfather — the most well-dressed man I’ll ever know, who drank a gin and tonic daily and promptly at 5 P.M. in a crystal tumbler with a wedge of lime.
This cologne leans heavier on the lemon — Italian lemon — than the lime. It’s strong; I sprayed too much; the sandalwood and cedar catch my inhale. My brain sends out question marks like butterfly nets to capture what or who or when this smell is reminding me of. Not my dad, I decide. But maybe an expectant father? Someone young and hopeful, perhaps just learning what “growing up” means, full of ideals for the generation below and just the tiniest bit of worry.
With every inhale and nose crinkle I spiral deeper into dads and their smells and olfactory legacy. (Olfactory’s my favorite word). I text my dad, “Did you know you wanted to smell like limes to me when I was born, because of your dad?” He writes back, “What?” Then sends the baby and lemon emoji. “No limes,” he clarifies.
Oy. Never mind. But it stirs something else in me. An idea. What if I talked to three dads-to-be about scent and memory and pending fatherhood, and their hopes and dreams back to that overly-dramatic but relevant word I used earlier: legacy?
So I did. Scroll below to dive into the minds of three expecting fathers. And dad…don’t be mad. I may need one more year to get you a “real gift.” In the mean time, gin and tonic on me?
(P.S. MR readers, you know I need to know what your dads and dad-figures smell like, too, right?)