In high school, I longed to be sophisticated in the way that all pubescent boys longed to be sophisticated – looking sophisticated to girls. Back in high school, my tools of appearing sophisticated ranged from:
- Reading Thoreau’s Walden to look independent and well-read because it was mentioned once on My-So-Called-Life, but hating every page.
- Listening to the Pixies which said, “here’s a guy who’s part of the counter-culture,” when all I wanted to do was listen to Paula Abdul.
- Writing for the literary magazine because I had things to say.
- Dying my hair blue because here’s a guy who looks like a dork but is inside a punk rocker.
- Writing angsty, understanding of feminist ideals, poetry.
In short, I was a complete poser. I was trying to please everyone else because I never truly felt at home in my own skin. I thought what I liked was stupid, so I co-opted the popular alternative lifestyle of the time. Something akin to Jordan Catalano meets Tribe Called Quest frontman Q-Tip. The unfortunate truth is these two personalities were both completely unconvincing on me. I was that dork who didn’t want to be a dork.
These days that may be difficult for modern-day dorks to understand, but before popular culture accepted dorks, they mercilessly hunted us down and mocked us. We were the awkward trailblazers who eventually grew up running every major corporation and conglomerate. It turned out while being awkward wasn’t, being smart was pretty cool.
So when unpacking a box of things I had stored before going away to college, I was greeted with a familiar smell – Drakkar Noir. The little black bottle had been sophisticatedly stewing for 17 years, awaiting its triumphant return to the teenager it had once defined. True to its tough and rugged scent, nothing had changed with the black matte bottle. Seventeen years and… nothing had changed. It smelled exactly the same as I remembered.
It, unlike my younger self, was so blindly sure of itself – it remained the same, impenetrable over the years. It was an instant reminder of all my missteps. Hell, it was an instant reminder of the missteps of a generation of pimple-faced boys who simply wanted to be loved and thought a new smell might just be the ticket. So, to all the (now) men who once nervously visited a drug store and had an employee open a glass case to purchase a bottle of Drakkar Noir instead of condoms, I raise my glass of Malbec* and solute you. All of us dorks salute you – smelling all the sweeter.
*It is actually Pinot Noir, but the similarity was too much, even for a blog post.