My father was never hard to shop for on Father's Day. Every year, when I was a little boy, I would get him a bottle of Old Spice after-shave lotion. Well, actually, my mother would make the purchase and wrap it and on the big day I would present it to him and take all the credit. As a child I wondered why, if it were a spice, it couldn't be used for cooking? I still remember the red box it came in and to this day I don't believe the fragrance or any of its original packaging has changed. The bottle itself is also a classic; a unique shaped, opaque, off-white glass container with a little, grey stopper on top. Every Father's Day my dad would unwrap my gift and act so wonderfully surprised when he saw what was inside. He'd throw his hands up in the air and his jaw would drop as if he'd just unwrapped a million dollars.
"Kev, this is just what I needed! Thank you so much! Wow, isn't this great!" he'd say excitedly to my mother. I would feel so proud and satisfied that I (and my silent partner, my mom) was able to provide him with this unique and personal gift that he cherished so much. He would immediately empty some out onto his hand and splash it onto his face and neck. He would then put some into my hands and I would follow suit. Later that morning he would casually place the bottle in the bathroom cabinet, neatly resting amongst the seven or eight other, nearly full Old Spice bottles from past Father's Days. Occasionally, during the days that followed, I would fish for compliments about my gift.
"Gee, Dad. Something smells good."
"Yeah, Kev," he'd boast as he was running off to work, "I've got some of the Old Spice on that you gave me." I would smile and know that he was going to have a good day.
Back then, Old Spice was not considered a cologne or aftershave that you would wear to attract women. That would be a mistake. Girls would smell it and immediately be disinterested in you because you would remind them of their father. As I grew older, there were other colognes for attracting women that my friends and I would use: Brut, High Karate, and Aramis, to name a few. I felt very strongly then, and still do today, that women are inherently drawn to a cologne called Karate. There's nothing smoother than being able to answer "Yes" to the question, "My, is that Karate you're wearing?"
With all those colognes, you could see the liquid in the bottle through the green, brown, or grey, Euro-trashy-shaped glass container with the large, bulbous tops. Throughout my teen years I had all these potions lined up neatly and systematically on my dresser, available to me for whatever occasion I deemed them necessary. They were my special team. But I never included a bottle of Old Spice in that line up. It was much too innocent to be involved with them. That would be like putting a cute, little collie next to a bunch of coyotes and mountain lions. Since my colognes were so potent and you only needed a little dab, they never needed to be replaced ? and to this day those original bottles, half full, are still sitting in a box somewhere in my storage unit.
Of course, Dad would never wear those types of colognes. He stuck to the Old Spice, which was like the Disney of all fragrances. To this day, there is not a time when I get a whiff of it that I don't think about my father. In fact, a few years ago I was with my friend when I immediately noticed he was wearing Old Spice. Out of reflex, I sheepishly asked him if I could borrow the car for the weekend. Some things stay with you forever.
As such, it's much easier for me to think of Father's Day as Old Spice Day, something that I'm sure the parent company of Old Spice would love to hear. It's a day when men and their children come together to relish the smell of aftershave. A day of appreciating whatever the 'old spice' is and wherever it comes from. It is comforting to know that this Father's Day I will be in possession of two bottles of Old Spice: one to give to my father and one to give myself, from my sixteen-month old son.