Scents Of Youth

After-Christmas sales are full of surprises. A recent shopping excursion to Kmart proved to be a trip down memory lane for one of my sisters and me. We were checking out the health and beauty products on the much-marked-down displays when we both stopped to take a whiff of the men’s colognes on sale.

Much to our surprise there were a few bottles of Brut and even English Leather among the sale items. I didn’t know they still made these oldies but goodies. Without a second thought we reached for the bottles and inhaled the fragrances of our coming-of-age years. She giggled a bit remembering her high school years and which boys wore which colognes. I think we swooned a bit at the memories.

One short sniff of the English Leather catapulted me back to eighth grade and an awkward boy-girl party in Patrick Galla’s basement. The girls got dolled up in new miniskirts and Bonnie Bell lip gloss and the boys wore shirts with wide collars – and aftershave. Some splashed the stuff on so thick that you wore it home if you danced a slow dance with them.

The girls did the same with their perfumes – Charlie and White Shoulders – which were among the most popular gifts from boys to girls at Christmastime. Some parents did not approve of such gift giving at that tender age and suggested more sexless gifts such as a fountain pen. Nothing romantic about that.

How far we’ve come from those innocent bottles of after shave and perfume. Today, young people show their admiration with matching tattoos.

Most of the scents we saw on the sale shelf were brands we had never heard of, and many of them smelled so much alike you might as well pour them all in the same bottle. I could not tell the difference between the men’s and women’s scents either.

That seems to be the norm today with a lot of things around us. If you ever watch old movies – from the ’40s. ’50s and ’60s – you would know that cars were as different as Elvis was from Glenn Miller. Each had a definite character and style. You could identify the year of the car by its distinctive headlamps or front grille.

Today I can’t tell one sedan from another until I read the names on the back of the cars or someone points out a make and model to me. That has to be frustrating to the cops when crimes involve getaway cars and we can’t tell a Cavalier from a Malibu until we get up close. Kind of hinders the investigation into a bank robbery, wouldn’t you think?

Don’t get me wrong, I love new technology and advances that make our lives better, safer, more comfortable and enjoyable. But you can’t stack pictures of the kids on top of those flat screen TVs and one of my favorite fragrances is found in my dryer sheets, not a perfume bottle.

Just wondering what the eighth-graders of 2013 will remember fondly 40 years from now. In the meantime, I sure hope my husband will enjoy his Valentine present. It was a real bargain.

Heather Ziegler can be reached via e-mail at ziegler@the