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Monday, December 14, 2009

Scent of a Man

My wife likes to say that I have a "bridge brain."

I don't know what her precise definition would be (perhaps she will regale us appropriately in the comments section while she is "working" at her "job") but a bridge brain is something that enables me to enjoy shopping for clothes with/for her at Anthropologie, talk openly about my feelings, obsess over what belts go with what socks, and generally know what members of the opposite sex are talking about a high percentage of the time.

Having a bridge brain, I realized this morning with some dismay, does not, however, enable me to understand perfume commercials.

Every time I am watching television and a perfume commercial comes on, I feel like I am on drugs. Bombarded with visuals and sounds I don't understand-- waves crashing over a small dog, the woman in gold throwing her necklaces and bracelets and shit all over the floor, a girl in a crinoline dress and cat-eye sunglasses ascending heavenward clutching balloons, WASPy people at a wedding giddily chasing each other around Nags Head, Matthew McConaughey-- I am left feeling a variety of unkind and unpleasant emotions ranging from embarrassment to desperate confusion and an acute sense of vertigo.

This must be what it's like for thirty-something women who happen to walk into a room where a "Three Stooges" short is playing on the TV.

I like my bridge brain. I really do. I think it's something I have that lots of men don't have and maybe some wish they did. I think it helps me communicate well with my wife, my mother and sisters, and my female readers (I guess you're really the judge of that, my little Canadian harem) but I sometimes wish it better equipped me to fathom what the hell is going on in the average perfume commercial.

I definitely understand the six-second bit at the very end where the breathy, slightly and ambiguously-accented forty-something-year-old tells you to buy the so-and-so bag-o'-fun from Macy's for $75.50 (a $100.00 value). That I understand. I don't understand cello music playing while two Mer-people undulate against each other in a green lagoon.

You foreign readers will probably tell me that I'm "too American" and potentially unsophisticated to comprehend the creativity that is exuded by scent commercial directors, how they're really producing the artistic equivalent of a 22 second Fellini film, but I'm just not so sure. Those of you who do drugs will inevitably tell me that I need to start doing drugs and that, once I do, I'll get the commercials-- just like doing shrooms in the early 1970s helped you understand Terry Gilliam's "Monty Python" animation sequences.

Or maybe I just need to start wearing cologne. Of course, I never understood that either. Why shower, get all clean and nice smelling, and then apply a hyper-expensive liquid to yourself that makes you smell like my Great Uncle Martin's liquor cabinet?

I know. Some bridge brain, right?


  1. Is "bridge brain" a euphemism for saying you are "metrosexual"?

    As for perfume commercials, I'd speculate that if it doesn't make us want to buy the advertised perfume then perhaps it's a clever form of marketing to ostracise anyone other than the target market. But I'm not so sure -- I'd love to see follow up surveys asking if viewers could remember the content or the product being sold.

    If I was making adverts for perfume, however, I think I would deliberately try to make them as weird as possible, something like Un Chien Andalou

  2. I think the subliminal message in those ads is that if you wear their perfume, your life will be interesting, intense, you'll turn into a mermaid.

    Who knows. I wear Allure by Chanel, and I've never seen a commercial for it. If I were going to write one, it would involve a girl rolling around on a princess bed in a cashmere sweater with no bra. And maybe some kittens. But that's just me.

  3. Jay--

    Googled it. Got through 49 seconds.


    That commercial sounds like a fabulous idea. I'd watch it. Preferably in slo-mo.

    Of course I know what it means subliminally-- that the girl is really a giant eggplant rolling around on a pile of subnuclear waste and she's going to strangle the kittens with the bra she's not wearing.

    This is why perfume is fucked up and My Masonic Apron is normal.

  4. I think the idea with the ad where the chick throws all her shit on the floor is that you're waiting to see if you'll get to see her boobies. Which you know you won't because it is television, but hope springs eternal! And I love the fantastically crappy accent she adopts when saying "J'Adore Dior". Shut up, Charlize Theron. Just. Shut. Up.

    I'm a Cool Water girl myself. Men love it - truth. =)

  5. Who you callin' Canadian?!?

    Perfume commercials, like the products they sell, are a mystery to me.

    But then again, I smell like horses most of the time, so what do I know?

  6. If there was a perfume commercial where a sexy muscular (but not too muscular) man picked a woman up in a sexy (but not too sexy) dress and threw her up against the wall (without causing pain, of course) then proceeded to make love to her neck (without slobbering) and whispered how wonderful, sexy (insert adjective here)she smelled, I might try the tester at Macy's.....

    On a side note, I never understood the Britney perfume commercial where she's running around the woods only to be confronted by a Kevin Federline look a like....THAT'S not going to make me run to the perfume desk, that's for sure.

  7. You're probably not supposed to understand them. They are just supposed to stick with you until you make it to the counter to purchase your favourite.
    I mean you wrote a whole post about clearly they are winning.

    And Laurie- for sure about K. Fed. Although he has lost 50lbs...


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