He Who Smelt It – Episode 5: Not So Hell Bent for Leather
When I received the series of M. Micallef vanilla-based fragrances, the sophisticate in me immediately ranked them by name alone. Vanilla Leather finished just off the podium, earning the lone, shameful, green Honorable Mention ribbon. I knew I’d loathe it.
M. Micallef Vanilla Leather.
The moniker is spot on. It screams,” High sucrose content!” If the name leaves any doubt, a quick whiff assures it. That alone could raise the blood sugar to dangerous levels. If you stepped out in the hellish Texas summer wearing it, you’d attract ants, bees, or any number of other sweet-seeking bite/sting-happy pests. Law should require that it come with an Epipen.
Fortunately, it’s not yet summer. So I gave it try.
I was promptly taken back to 1993. I saw the nervous, awkward, uncertain, 100 pound Adam slinking towards the doors of high school for the first time. He hadn’t a care or a clue, and wouldn’t for some time. I cringed. Then I giggled as the real reason for this vision presented itself. Just before opening the doors to that new world, 1993 Adam reaches into his pocket and fetches some Binaca breath spray. Of course! That was when my two year addiction began. It was always there in my pocket… not because I was expecting my lips to mingle with a girl’s or because it had alcohol in it so I was basically drinking at school like I told my friends, but because I liked the taste. I was so cool.
I actually wrestled with the idea of investigating Vanilla Leather’s worth as a breath freshener. Maybe it could be the first dual threat perfume/breath freshener? I was seeing lots of $$$. Much like my vision, though, the idea quickly faded away. I carried on with my day and after a few minutes forgot all about the scent. I suspect that, because it was so sweet and familiar, I became easily acclimated to it. I spent that first day thinking someone was making gingerbread in my office – which is quite alright until you remember you’re not employed at a bakery and that it’s you who smells like molasses and ginger. I kept attributing it to outside sources. It’s just doesn’t seem like it could be bottled up. It’s most unique in that aspect.
Late that afternoon, I asked a few of my closer co-workers to share their opinions. A couple found it quite nice. Who doesn’t like the smell of baked goods? One commented that it smelled like a perfume, and not a cologne (she was technically correct, although this scent isn’t, in my opinion, distinctly feminine). The guy in the cubicle next to me thoroughly disliked it. His comment, “I feel like I could chew it,” made sense to me. It is robust.
The scent, though a meal in and of itself, is pleasing enough, so I gladly put it on for a second day. My feelings didn’t change. I still felt like I was working in Candyland. Sometime around 11:00, after multiple mugs of mocha, I took a potty break. As I stood at a urinal, a co-worker entered and, correctly applying men’s room etiquette, assured there was a urinal between us before proceeding with his own bladder evac. A few seconds in, he asked this: “What smells like a White Russian?” I knew it was me, and I think that says it all. Of all the smells vying for attention in a men’s public restroom, he noticed this. That was the dagger. I couldn’t do it anymore. I zipped up and fled. It’s another great scent that’s simply not for me. I think his observation gives the most apt description of the Vanilla Leather, though I’d modify it a tad. It’s more of a White Russian with a splash of spiced rum. The drink is too sweet for me to begin with. Walking around smelling like one is completely unacceptable.