Saturday, January 21, 2012

Server Secret Weapons - the cologne

I'm gonna let you in on one of the secrets to my success.  Smell really good subtly.  Smell memorable.  But don't smell like some douchebag who rolled around in a pool of samples.

Nothing worse than having a college frat boy server smelling like he fucked the whole crew at Abercrombie and Shits between shifts.

I don't care if you are a frat guy trying to fuck everything that moves in my kitchen, dial down the douche juice and it'll do you a lot of good.

Back to smelling good.

I have changed my cologne over the years as times have changed.  It has also changed a bit to reflect which store I am working in (I've served in more than one location) to better reflect the clientele.  My restaurant clientele is a strange mix of about 20% ghetto, 20% old as hell (which as I age doesn't see as old any longer...), 15-20% GLBT, and the rest is your normal metro hodgepodge blend.  I am especially aware of my gay and old ladies as I select my cologne.  I want to smell good for my gays, and I don't want to drop an old lady with the strength of my scent.  So finding a balance is important.

I want to smell classic first of all.  I'm not trying to introduce the world to a new scent.  Second of all, I don't want to walk up to the table and have everyone know what I smell like - that's too much.  But if I reach my arm across a guests body to pick up a plate, I want there to be a gentle good smelling hint of me.  If you are the customer closest to me I want you to get a just perceptible scent of goodness.

Now, since I work in a seafood restaurant that smells like deep fat frier grease and clams I have to work at this.  Over the years I've perfected my cologne application to aid me in this.  I apply a modest amount mid-way up my forearms on the under side of my arms.  This is the reach wiff.  I put it there so that it doesn't get washed off in my near OCD washing of crap off my hands when I work.  One full spray divided between both arms is all that it needs.

My second spray is right above my wedding tackle and under where my belt runs.  This puts this in closer proximity to my nearest guests, so again I cannot go overboard here.  Spray directly on the body, never on the clothes.  This way when I'm running my ass off during rush I don't smell like an old used horse cock.

Two sprays is all it takes.

Now the second part is selecting that right scent.  For me (at least for the last 3ish years) it has been a cologne called The One by Dolce and Gabbana.  I don't remember where I first encountered it, but it is pure gold in a bottle (at least on my body).  Yes, it isn't cheap, good cologne never is.  But a bottle lasts more than a year with 2 sprays a day (I'm only recently on mys second bottle).  The smell endures if you have a long shift.  And you won't tire of this smell.  I'm NOT saying it is for everyone though, you do have to try it on for size and see how it reacts with your body's chemistry.

Every once in a while someone recognizes it - always a woman or a gay man, but it is so subtle in my application that I never get complaints and sometimes get a compliment.  I know there are people who are sensitive to scents - me among them - and if you're just gonna complain in the comments about all scents being evil let me save you some time - fuck off.

Selecting a cologne (or a perfume for you ladies):
This takes time.  Don't walk in and buy what is popular or you'll smell like a douchebag.  Don't walk in and buy what is cheap or you'll smell like a low-rent douchebag.

Buy a coffee, or bring a bag of beans when shopping for your scent.  Don't let the chipper sales drone spray the cologne in the air.  You're not gonna get the right scent.  Spray it on cards.  Let the alcohol evaporate.  Gently wave it under your nose, but not right next to your nose.  Assess one scent at a time.  Between scents take a few whiffs of the coffee to clear your mind.  Don't drink the coffee until after working through the scents, you want a neutral palette.  Narrow down your choices to your favorite 2 or 3 and see if they have sample vials you can take home.  Most good stores will have them or can get them for you.  Even if you have to pay for them, they are worth it.  A scent might smell nice in the store and then rancid on your body, and you don't want $60 worth of eau de swamp rat in your bathroom if it doesn't fit you well.

Do a few trials runs with your samples.  See what you think of them, and get a few people you trust to give you an opinion.  I do my test runs with a sample similar to the people at my restaurant - a few trusted gay friends and a couple old neighbor ladies.  They've never steered me wrong.  I don't ask my old lady to help me select.  I wear something different for her that she has picked out (that we both agree that we like on me).

  • Wearing the same cologne you wore as a teenager. As you go through the decades in your life, change your colognes.
  • Always wearing the same cologne. Variety is the spice of life. You’ll be more attractive if you are less predictable. Don’t wear the same cologne 365 days of the year – it won’t be noticed.  (but you CAN wear the same one to the restaurant every day)
  • Putting on too much. It’s important to be subtle – it’s much more seductive and alluring. If they can smell you when you walk into a room, you’ve applied way too much.
  • Applying cologne to your face. Cologne should never be applied directly on the face. It has alcohol which can easily irritate and redden your skin. It will also have too strong a scent if applied directly to the face. Only apply cologne to either your neck, your wrists, or behind your ears.
  • Spraying your clothes. Don’t do it! It’s a waste of cologne, bad for you your clothes, and is just way too much scent for a man. Where ever you go, you’ll stink the place up.


A host of terms are used to help describe colognes. Here are some of the more commonly used terms (there are plenty more). It sometimes sounds as if people are describing a wine rather than colognes.
  • Citrus – describes refreshing citric scents from lemons, oranges, grapefruits and other fruits
  • Earthy – describes scents associated with dirt, moss and earth
  • Floral – describes a scent associated with flowers such as lily, iris or lavender
  • Fresh – this is a confusing term often used to describe citrus or green type scents
  • Fruity – describes scents associated with non-citric fruits like apples, bananas, and strawberries
  • Green – describes the scent associated with freshly mowed grass
  • Spicy – describes stronger, warm scents such as cinnamon, frankincense, myrrh, clove oil, pepper, ginger, and nutmeg
  • Woody – describes the scent associated with fresh cut wood especially sandalwood
  • Musk – Sexy, masculine scent used in many colognes. Derived from musk oil which is known for sexual attraction
The scents of cologne often evolve over three stages referred to as “Notes”. The stages are:
  • Top Notes – Scents first noticed after applying the cologne.
  • Middle Notes – The scent of the cologne after the top notes diminish. The middle notes are usually noticed after 20 minutes to an hour.
  • Bottom or Base Notes – These are the long lasting scents of cologne and usually last for a few hours or more. 
It is those bottom notes that I am after when selecting a work cologne - and again it is why you have to do trial runs on colognes prior to purchase.

As a quick run down of what I keep in my bathroom cabinet:
1)  The One by Dolce & Gabbana
2)  Play Intense by Givenchy - This is the one my woman picked out, and it makes her want to jump me, even at our old ages.  Must be part magic!
3)  Obsession by Calvin Klein - an old standby when I want something different yet comfortable.
4)  Polo by Ralph Lauren - the old green bottle.  Most women over 35 love it, and it brings back great memories of days gone by from my past.  The stories my old bottles of Polo could tell...
5)  Polo Black by Ralph Lauren - this has become my day-to-day cologne.  I love it.  I smell like a man who likes scotch and fine cigars (guilty!).  The scent is strong enough I wouldn't wear it to work though (probably).

Other notes:
Don't buy Drakkar.  Don't be that guy. At least not at work anyhow.
Same goes for everything from Abercrombie.
If you can find Sex Panther by Odion, buy me a bottle too (watch video below if you don't get it).

In the infinite wisdom of Nelson Muntz...smell you later!


Anonymous said...

What is your advice for a woman's perfume. What do you like your lady to smell like. Help out us female servers ;) Love your column by the way, I'm amused and obsessed.

Mat Black said...

All colognes smell the same to me. I can't really tell one from another. So I wear what my wife likes.