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A Man Asks about Perfume.

by Dear Jon
September 23, 2008

Dear Readers,

Keep the letters coming!  If I get a back-log I'll go to shorter answers and do two or three per sort, like in the old days (On the PO, the "old days" equals "Bush's first term"). I have received an actual letter from a lonely woman who is tired of her boyfriend, which we will look at next week. And then someone is asking me what "philial love" means. Since that one is philosophical rather than time-sensitive, we'll get there eventually, two weeks at the earliest, but I'm game for philosophy. Besides, this week I'm helping out a husband who really stepped in it. By the time I'm through with him and "Lonely," my readers might really want to know what "philial love" is all about!


Dear Jon,

While away on a business trip, I stopped in a bar with my colleagues to get a few drinks. The bartender happened to be female, and had a very pleasant smell about her; even other women at the bar were attempting to get a better smell of her fragrance. After seeing this, I decided to boldly ask her what perfume she was wearing, and added "so I can tell my wife." She told me what the perfume was, and I wrote it down.

My problem now is how do I explain to my wife that I found a new perfume I'd like her to try without explaining how I found out about it? Or is there a way to present the story without her getting suspicious of ulterior motives (which there honestly weren't)?

A Happily Married Man

Dear Toast,

When designing the dog-house which is about to become your new sleeping quarters, be sure to take into account sufficient head-room for sitting up in your sleeping bag at sudden noises. The great news is that, like so many other things, dog-houses come in "pre-fab" kits at home improvement stores.

All right, it might not be as bad as all that. But you tell your wife anything we need to do some coaching on the details.

 1. While on a business trip…. Did your wife expect that you would be having any "fun" on this trip? This is your first minefield. First of all, where was this trip? A business trip to "Omaha" is a lot more likely to be all or mostly business, than a business trip to "Orlando." If your business trip was to Las Vegas, you are so toast. Just eat the note with the name of the perfume and swear all your colleagues to an oath of silence. Second, did your wife extend permission to you that fun was allowed while absent from her on a work-related trip? Please note, this permission may or may not be granted telepathically, and is to be correctly intuited by reading body language even at a distance of 700 miles, regardless of any actual spoken words.

Remember that you are already in deep for the business trip itself. If you presented your trip as an onerous burden of your job, and you "really would rather stay home honey", then any story about "a bar for a few drinks" puts you on thin ice.

2. In a bar…. Be prepared to answer this because you WILL be asked: "What kind of bar was it?" A dumb look, as though "What do you mean? A bar is a bar!" will not get you off the hook. She knows as well as you do that there are many different kids of bars.

The best, most innocent bar for a man to be with colleagues is the "Sports Bar." This is almost taken for granted in many marriages. You are on thin ice only if are a recovering alcoholic and should never be inside any kind of bar ever, or, if you have hidden from your wife that you ever drink, including, socially while with the guys or on business trips. If either of those things are true, you are toast, and, speaking man-to-man, you deserve to be.

Second to the sports bar is the "ethnic pub." English, Irish, and German pubs are fairly innocent. It is understood that guys are in these places to unwind, and are not prowling. This is also true of "watering hole" bars in tiny towns out in the western plains, where the liquor trade is often the only commerce conducted within incorporated town limits. It is not likely that such a place hosted your business meeting.

However, biker bars are not "ethnic pubs," nor are honky tonks that tout the eventual victory of the Confederacy. These places, and the women who frequent them, are much more suspect. Then you have the singles bar/dance club with the d.j., the strip joint/gentleman's club, and the gay bar.

If you were not in a sports, an ethnic pub or a watering hole, it will be difficult for you to spin where you were. The excuse that you did not know what kind of bar it was because it was a strange city, is not an excuse—women will see right through that. You can figure it out pretty quick no matter where you are. Very early in my adulthood I once stood in the foyer of bar in the Boston area. I figured out what kind of bar it was by the poster on the wall advertising an "underwear party" the following week, and all of the drawn silhouettes of figures in their underwear were male. I did not assume that in a strange city like Boston, Red Sox fans must celebrate their team with occasional underwear parties hosted at their sports bars. I did NOT proceed inside for "a few drinks."

3. For a "few drinks…" Yah. Don't even open that can of worms. More than three in an entire evening on a "business trip" is enough to have you serve at her elbow for two week-ends of Department Store Penance during football season.

4. Colleagues… Actually, to gain more empathy from your wife, describe your company as "friends." Women like friends, they like the idea of friends, and they would rather have you accountable in the company of friends than off on your own in a bar in a strange city sniffing other women. (‘On your own' is the same as being ‘with colleagues' who, because they are not your friends, would not care one whit about whether you were behaving badly.)

5. Other women at the bar… Wait a minute, what kind of bar was this again? A sports pub? So these women were there with their husbands and boyfriends. Right? Right?

6. I boldly decided to ask her… You were bold after how many drinks?

The best scenario story: "While I was in Omaha at the convention, I went out one evening with some friends I know from the Colorado district, and we found this nice place in front of an upscale mall called "Husker Backer Bar and Grill." This little old lady with blue hair and horned rimmed glasses is behind the bar, but as I was sitting there watching some random baseball game on the big screen and shooting the bull with my friends about the industry slump, I'm thinking to myself, "Wow, what is that great smell?" Wouldn't you know, it was this lady bar-tender no one would have looked at twice otherwise, except that she smelled so good. I wanted the name of the perfume so when I asked her, I told her I wanted to know so I could ask you about it. Here, I wrote it down. So, have you ever heard of this perfume? Do you know if it's expensive? Is it okay if I buy you some?"

 Anything beyond that, you're on your own.

If she has heard of the perfume and it is expensive, you are probably going to be okay. However, there is still a risk in this scenario. Your wife may have read in one of her women's magazines a list of "Top Ten Fragrances Worn by Home-wrecking Floozies," and she will know that this one is number three and that it is sold by dispensers in Truck Stop Ladies' Rooms.  If that is the case write me back and I will do research at the IKEA website on dog-houses for you. 

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