One of my most vivid childhood memories is of my kindergarten graduation. At the time, my mom was working at a law firm and couldn't make it to our little ceremony. But my dad came and watched me walk across a makeshift bridge to receive my "diploma."
From the stage, I looked out into the crowd to see his smiling face and I heard him call out, "Yo, Rachie!"
After graduation, my dad took me for a walk down our small town's Main Street, where he held my hand and spun me around in my little blue and white dress. Then we sat down at Bel Air Bakery for a brownie and chocolate milk and he teared up as he told me how proud he was of me. "You've got the whole world ahead of you, Rachie."
I've always considered my dad my best friend. He's a constant source of wisdom, support, and cheesy jokes. He's been a shoulder for me to cry on, and he's been a gentle hand to pick me up after I've fallen down. I owe him my life, as well as my height, sense of humor, and killer vinyl collection.
My dad's not the kind of guy who doesn't let you see him cry. He's always told me how important it is to feel all of your feelings--especially the ones that hurt. I remember the way he cried at his dad's funeral, the way his voice broke on the phone when I talked to him after his best friend passed away suddenly a few years ago, the way he quietly wiped his eyes when he saw me in my prom dress, the way he's cried with me, so many times, as he held me in his arms through my life's lowest moments, and the way he's cried tears of joy with me during the highest ones.
He's not all sap and sentiment, though. My dad's a hilarious, goofy guy who laughs at his own jokes until you're laughing along with him. He refers to himself as "The Bob" and, for years, has been sending me cards and notes signed with a tiny doodle of himself. I try and save all of them; one note in particular--which I've taken with me on many travels--is starting to fade.
My dad taught me to live life one day at a time, and to never take anything for granted. He used to sit on the back porch with my sister and me every night and we'd eat a bowl of popcorn while we watched the sunset. He taught me to appreciate the beauty in every single thing.
He grew up in a small house in Baltimore with his four brothers. He went through a lot of tough stuff, but fought hard to overcome it and create a great life for our family. He went back to school when I was a baby and opened his own business. He made sure my sister and I got the best education, healthcare, and opportunities possible. We went on vacations around the world and we wanted for very little.
One thing my dad never spent a lot of money on, though, was himself. A few weeks ago, during one of our almost daily phone conversations, the subject of cologne came up. I asked him if he needed a new scent. "You know," he said, "I usually buy a new bottle of it every three or four years. Just whatever I can find at Kohl's or Target, usually."
I decided I wanted to find my dad some nice cologne for Father's Day. He has given me the world, the least I can give him is that, right?
Shopping for fragrance for someone else is difficult but really fun. It was interesting to take into consideration my dad's preferences and personality while sniffing various scents. I tested out a bunch of different colognes to see which one matched him the best.
MCMC Dude No. 1 All Natural Cologne
The first fragrance I found was MCMC Dude No. 1 All Natural Cologne, which reminded me of my dad and his propensity for using the word "dude" while turning his baseball cap sideways and extending his thumb and pinky finger in the international symbol for "hang loose."
At first sniff, this cologne (made in Brooklyn, New York in small batches) is incredibly woody, which makes sense as its heaviest notes consist of Virginia cedarwood, creamy sandalwood, and Haitian vetiver. As it wore on me, though, I picked up on notes of ginger and pepper. It's a bit strange, but I enjoy it. May be a bit too musky and woodsy for my dad, though.
Official score: 2 out of 5 Bobs
The Bug by LUSH
I'm a big fan of Lush's scents. I wear Vanillary on the regular, so I was excited to sniff The Bug when they sent it to me.
I first smelled The Bug at a Lush store in NOLA. Right out of the bottle, this scent is bitter and strange. It's chemical-y but appealing, kind of like a Sharpie. The layers of sandalwood, pepper, and elemi are all tied together by a heavy note of galbanum, which gives the fragrance a uniquely green but spicy scent. It's like sitting on a freshly cut lawn in a strange post-apocalyptic frontier.
Lush describes The Bug as capturing "the paranoia of the modern age," which might be why this scent appeals to me but doesn't seem like something my dad would enjoy. It's electric and multi-faceted, and I'm keeping it for myself. Sorry, dad.
Official Score: 1 out of 5 Bobs (The Bug is MINE)
Vanille Insensée and Vetiver Fatal by Atelier Cologne
Next up, I tested two different colognes from Atelier.
Vanille Insensée Cologne Absolue is so much more than vanilla. This might be one of the best things I've ever smelled in my life. It's rich and warm, but also exotic and expensive smelling. This scent is how I imagine it must feel to own a closet full of luxurious cashmere sweaters.
Notes of jasmine and lime hang out with the vanilla, while hints of oak moss, wood, and spicy coriander bring the scent down to earth. It's delicious and lush, but still light enough to be casual. Though I love its warmth, my dad prefers fresher scents, so I don't think this is right for him.
Vanille Insensée Official Score: 2 out of 5 Bobs (I'm keeping this, too)
Vetiver Fatal Cologne Absolue is a musky green scent. The vetiver hits you first, followed by a woodsy musk, smoky cedarwood, and citrus. It smells fresh and clean to me, but also exotic. I can definitely see Bob loving this one.
Vetiver Fatal Official Score: 4 out of 5 Bobs
Mer & Mistral by L'Occitane en Provence
L'Occitane sent me the entire line of Mer & Mistral, including the eau de toilette, body milk, after shave balm, and shower gel.
This scent smells like a trip to the beach. Notes of citrus, cypress, and rosemary blend with a vaguely salty aroma that reminds me of running alongside the waves, digging my hands in the sand, and laughing at my dad as he applied SPF 50+ to his bald head. But then there's also a bit of lemon and orange, which takes me back to the times when we'd go on island vacations. My dad would hold my hand while we snorkeled, and with the other hand he'd point out fish, turtles, and coral.
My dad lives in Florida now, about 20 minutes from the beach, and visiting my parents seems more like a vacation than ever. Maybe that's why I think this scent fits my dad so well. It's incredibly refreshing and clean smelling, but it has hints of florals, woods, and musk to keep it masculine. I think it would be a perfect fit for Bob.
Official Score: 5 out of 5 Bobs
I'm going to give my dad all the scents I gave a score of three or above. But I could spend a million dollars on cologne and it still wouldn't be enough. I owe him so much. He has taught me everything I know, from the rules of basketball to how to treat others with kindness and respect.
My dad is my best friend, my hero, and my biggest fan. I hope to one day be half the parent he has been to me. Bob touches lives everywhere he goes with his kindness and wisdom. Even in the toughest of times--and we've had them--he can always be counted on for a joke and a hug.
For the rest of my life, I hope to keep making Bob proud, if only to see that beaming face and to hear, "Yo, Rachie!"
Do you have a particular scent you associate with your dad? Does he have a signature fragrance?