Summer’s here, my friends, and as much as I love the beach and cut-off shorts and flip-flops and fun in the sun, there’s a whole heap that I ain’t so crazy about. Humidity. Here in North Carolina, it’s thick and it’s bad and it’s no friend to me and my scents. Chances are, in addition to working hard to please the tourists who provide my paycheck, I’m going to be sweating. Not glistening, mind you, but sweating, and that means, unless I’m wearing an absolute powerhouse with the staying power of family visitors at Christmas, by late morning, anything I spritzed before leaving the house will be gone and all my efforts to smell intriguing or interesting or exotic or whatever mood I was aiming for will have been in vain. Add to this the fact that what are usually considered appropriate summer scents are generally the ones I find least interesting of all. I don’t really like to do clean, fresh, or citrusy; eau de colognes are just wasted on me. These fragrances will last all of an hour, maybe, and I’ll be stuck smelling like everyone else around me. I like heavy. I like intense. I like loud. Last week, temps here were pushing 100 degrees and I found myself craving leather scents all week long. Go figure. Needless to say, I’m already ready for fall.
But we soldier on, doing whatever it takes to survive, finding comfort in those scents that can go the long haul and take us where we need to be. There’s a handful that I’ve found in heavy rotation lately, some that might not always be a good judgment call on my part, some that have may have abandoned me come quittin’ time, but all somehow getting me through the fire.
I don’t know why I ordered it blind, other than the fact that it was on sale and only a 30 ml bottle, but Parfums de Nicolai’s Eau d’Ete ended up arriving on my doorstep just in time for summer. Lord knows the name alone sounded like something I would hate, but I think I just threw it in my basket in an attempt to have something in my wardrobe seasonally appropriate. Turns out, I kinda love it. No, it doesn’t last all day, but will anything with eau fraiche written on the bottle? Yes, it’s got the blast of citrus to be expected, lemon, lime, grapefruit, pretty much everything except Sprite and, yes, I guess it is fresh and that’s not such a bad thing after all. But underneath it all, there’s something just a little bit skanky that holds my interest and keeps me coming back for more. As the citrus burns off, there’s jasmine bringing in the funk and just enough musk to take it on home. Clean and fresh just like a summer day should be, but enough extra there to remind you how much fun summers nights can be, too.
My go-to beach scent has become Estee Lauder’s Azuree and if anyone understands the necessity of a fragrance to wear to the beach, I’m sure it’s you, dear readers. It smells like lounging by the pool in the Poconos in the 1960s, drinking sloe gin fizzes and smoking cigarettes, playing canasta with old ladies. And I mean that in a good way. It was love at first sniff. Every sunny Sunday finds me unfolding my beach chair, grabbing a book, and reeking of Azuree. The citrus business covers the obligatory summer stuff and all that glorious leather satisfies the jones I’ve had for that as of late. Nothing beats getting a whiff of it when I’m putting on my shirt and loading up my truck after a lazy, leisurely day at the ocean and just so you know, it layers quite nicely with sunscreen.
Off topic somewhat, but related to beach reads, I’ve hit some good stuff lately. I usually have a theme for my summer reading, be it Jane Austen or true crime or Patricia Highsmith, as the last few summers have run. This year I decided to lighten things up a bit and I’ve gone for humor. Chelsea Handler has become my new celebrity obsession and her books are funny as hell. My Horizontal Life details her history of one night stands and Are You There Vodka, It’s Me Chelsea? continues with all the absurd details of a sharp, shrewd comic with a very crazy life. To make the summer even sweeter, David Sedaris has a new book out, When You Are Engulfed in Flames and, as is usual with his stuff, I find myself laughing out loud with strangers looking around to see who the crazy man cackling is. I love it. Anybody know of anything else good for a laugh?
So I latch on to whatever I can to survive the sticky chaos of this season. I try to think it through and make smart choices, but sometimes I just gotta do what I love. So if you’re walking along the coast one day and you find yourself thinking, “My God, someone reeks.” Just know that it’s Matt and he’s been in the Muscs Kublai Khan or the Kouros or the Eau d’Hermes, remembering just how impatient and impractical he can be. And pray for fall to hurry and arrive.