Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Nice Thing About Being 15.


I’m not sure the year – it would have been 98 or 99. We, my 15 year old friends and I, were at a friend’s house for video game playing and pizza eating. This was the main highlight of our socialisation – it would be another 3 years until I kissed a girl and, bizarrely, another 7 until the amount of kissing I has done in real life outnumbered the amount of kissing I had done on stage – so at the time we just had video games. The Nintendo 64 and it’s Goldeneye four-player tensions, seemingly endless Final Fantasy’s, and the mesmerizing and bewildering genius-mess of Metal Gear Solid.

We were sitting on various couches in the living room. There were enough of us – smelly, over-looked boys, for some to have to sit on the floor in thrones of cushions. The Simpsons was on TV. It was for this reason and this reason only that we weren’t playing video games. Pizza was placed in the most diplomatic of positions, and we ate and watched while my friend’s divorced parents sat in the adjacent dining room, talking about the Australian Labour Party.

It was the episode of The Simpsons where Lisa fell for Nelson and they briefly started dating. By this stage the show was just falling from its peak, and the plots were just starting to unwind from their tight forms of the mid-early seasons, though they still had a long way to go to reach the mess of desperate, plot-less narrative that they occupy today. It was the scene in which Lisa and Nelson kiss for the first time – Nelson having the very nice line as a thought, pressing his lips to hers: “That oughta shut her up.”

As I noted, we weren’t particular popular boys, probably because we were all very intelligent and defined ourselves as somehow being 'very intelligent' (much to our later unhappiness). We never, as some strange, un-said rule, talked about girls. Perhaps it was to not point out the obvious: that it wasn’t an area where any of us weren’t having any particular luck – not because we were trying and failing, but for the fact that we were all largely very very shy.

Except one of us. He whose house this was, and whom we had seen in several high school 'relationships', and had this seeming innate way of charming women. Years later I would realise that it was simply having the confidence and calm to go and talk to them, then keep talking to them and not listen to any deep neurotic thoughts informing you to run away as far and quickly as you can.

But as Lisa and Nelson kissed, in that very Simpsons way of kissing, like two plungers smooshing together, he suddenly spoke up from his spot on the couch:

“That’s not what kissing’s like!”

A little too loudly, a little too vehemently, for no other reason other than just to announce to us that he, and only he, knew what it was like to kiss a girl, and he, and only he, recognised the severely un-realistic, yellow portrayal being shown to us.

I distinctly remember thinking, as my teeth bit into a triangle of melted cheese:

“You wanker”

– but all the same, being impotent to argue with his actual underlying sentiment.


That same year we went on a high school science camp. It was our class, as well as the other “smart” classes from the other years. Because of this, many of the people there I had not met or socialised with before, but at the same time, I still had my own comfortable circle.

I had always hated school camps. Mainly because I loved, and needed, sleep. I have gotten progressively less sensitive to this need as I have gotten older (to the point where I was fine doing 4 or 5 hours a night when studying design earlier in the year – although that would have contributed to my unhappiness and thus helped make the decision to drop-out), but as a teenager it was still an absolute essential. School camps seemed like exercises in sleep deprivation: put all the kids together in one room, and eventually the actual practice of staying up, and thus flouting the rules, becomes the very challenge of the night. Losing sleep became some badge of honour, since it essentially was anti-authority. I grew up largely constantly petrified of breaking any rules (something I didn’t grow out of until uni, and until I discovered the great extent of rules cast upon you are almost entirely arbitrary), but I also simply needed sleep, so I was want to try and get some. Eventually, the monkey sounds and actions of the other boys would settle into a haze around me, and somehow, I would be able to fall asleep. They would stay up – the especially daring ones sneaking out to a nearby beach, where equally daring girls waited. I liked to feel I had my revenge though: the next morning they would all be dead, while I would be fresh and awake, ready and waiting for a brisk morning bike ride around the island.

Knowing all this, on this particular occasion I was very careful about choosing my bed and setting it up. Firstly, I wanted something in a corner, thereby restricting the directions that sound could conceivably come from. Realising too my sensitivity to light (I am awoken very quickly by brightness and find it difficult to sleep if there is a persistent source of light in visible range) I decided to take certain measures to ensure a comfortable night: I arranged some of my supplied blankets around me, in the frames of the bunk beds, more or less setting up my own, tiny room in the edge of a larger one. At the time I did it out of comfort. Looking back, it was clearly paranoia, and the sheer discomfort of sharing a space with other boys.

This time no one snuck away during the nights. We were the “smart” kids, and with that was a certain expectation to be on impeccable behaviour always, which most of us lived up to, prefects and narcissists in training as we were. But the boy’s and girl’s dorms were just too adjacent and thus too alluring for nothing to happen. Eventually, after some scouts ventured back and forth for a while, the girls flooded our dorm. Nothing really happened: we were still the good kids, but there was still a faint naughtiness about it which was no doubt exciting. Boys and girls on the same bed, a boy (the same boy from the above memory) stroking a girl’s hair as she lay with her head on his stomach, and casual conversation about making out. It was like the beginning of some sort of scene in some sort of movie: it was leading somewhere for everyone, but we weren’t quite sure where.

Except for me, it wasn’t. I was in my room, and I had not ventured out. I had parted the blanket somewhat to allow a view, and some conversation, to the rest of the room in – and it wasn’t something I did immediately either, because I distinctly remember the orange glow of torch lights from the other side of the blankets, and then when I eventually opened to peer out, the disarming clarity of the torch lit world around me. But of course there was no one else on my bed, and no one resting their head on my stomach – how could they, they’d have to clamber through my sheet set up, or my ‘wall’, and even if I would later learn that a few girls there did have crushes on me, it would have taken a daring beyond most teenager’s capacity to tear down my structure and attempt to get close to me. And so I lay there, looking out from my peep hole, and waited, like some East German.

Before anything happened though, the supervising teacher entered the room with such a immense amount of force and anger that she must have stood behind the door for a few seconds before, building herself up. The rest of the room went dead. Torches switched off – to little effect, as the teacher had her own, much stronger torch. She ordered everyone out, NOW, regardless of what they were wearing, everyone out into the cold. The torch went around the room to force the teenage boys and teenage girls out. Everyone complied, shuffling about in their pyjamas or underwear and standing outside, against a wall, with a flickering light above them which illuminated very little, bar the small flies which aired around in a seeming state of constant panic.

Everyone complied, that is, but me. For when the teacher entered the room, and the second I heard that booming voice, I tore back my peep hole and, with my remaining blankets, covered myself into an impenetrable log, and didn’t make a sound. Chaos was everywhere else, and not in my room. As the other students were being lead out to face their punishment, the teacher’s torch continued to flash around, trying to spot any stragglers. Eventually, it’s large orange got fell upon my wall. It stayed there for a while, perhaps because the teacher was slightly puzzled.

‘Everyone out, NOW.’ she repeated.

I remained silent. Then I changed tact. With all the acting skills I could muster (and these were, in fact, numerous, from other situations like this I had found myself in), I applied a groggy haze to my voice and, as if I had only been woken from a slumber of Sleeping Beauty proportions then and there, very gingerly said:


The torch light had moved. Again she repeated her command, but this was aimed to the general room and not just me. Soon, I calculated that I was the only one left. I asked, again gingerly, and just as she would have been leaving

‘Do… do we have to go out if we’ve been asleep?’

The line was a masterful one of powerless manipulation: it was delivered as she was leaving, so she would need a strong force to pull her back in, it was me asking her, thereby, through all appearance, giving myself up should need be, and finally, cementing the notion that I had been asleep all this time, and was somewhat bewildered as to what was happening. Looking back, my childhood and teen years are filled with these sorts of lines towards adults, and it’s a tremendous relief that as an adult I seemed to drop out of the habit naturally, and usually only speak with the most earnest and sincere of voices.

The teacher didn’t reply, she merely left. The orange light vanished. From outside, I could hear the other students being yelled at – how they had broken the rules, how they would be sent home, how they could be expelled, etc. (none of which, of course, happened – teachers are usually as empty as dry watering cans). And though it was cold outside, their snickers didn’t make the whole affair seem so terrible. Except for me, as my imagination focused on her yells and her anger, and because I was not out there to experience any of it, for me, tucked in safe under one blanked and behind another, it was all utterly, utterly terrifying.

Despite this, my main memory though was wishing so much that I was out there with them, that I had had a girl’s head on my stomach, and I had been forced to march out there in my underwear, and that I wasn’t such a coward.


This is the nice thing about being 15, being told to you by a 26 year old: that it truly truly only gets better from there.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Angry Smells

I have a theory, not based on any tests or even any kind of evidence or observation, which states that if you smell like something, you don’t impose yourself to be that something.

If we take as given that a certain percentage of our emotions and actions are through compensation (which is certainly not a given, but just for now…), then this perhaps makes a tiny amount of sense – if, through smell, we have convinced ourselves we are something, then we lose that compensatory motivation to be that. If we smell very very sexy and alluring then our attempts to convince the world that we are, in fact, very very sexy and alluring through other means – via what we say or how we act – are perhaps lessened. Again, this is entirely a theory pulled out of thin air and not based on anything at all apart from a mild amount of experience, and I make no pre-tense about actually being correct about this (or anything). I do believe that with the world of smells though it is worth a thought – I know that when I have worn very sexy fragrances like Nasomatto’s Duro my propensity to communicate sexiness is unconsciously stifled. This, more than anything else, is perhaps the greatest that can be said for a perfume increasing one’s confidence – all it works in is alleviating insecurity through a kind of emotional self-manipulation.

Or the entirely opposite thing happens: if you wear something that you utterly do not believe yourself to be, then all the smell informs you is of the chasm between who you are and who the smell is suggesting you are. That is why Jubilation XXV does not make me feel more secure about my financial status, it simply feels like I am too poor to pull it off successfully. Chanel no.5 does not make me feel more feminine, it informs me how unfeminine I am by comparison. The effect of this though isn’t so much an increase of insecurity though, rather, since smell is more visceral and operates from the gut (not literally, of course), it rejects outright these contradictory smells. Jubilation XXV makes me feel poor, but not insecure about not having much money – I viscerally reject it, and accept my paltry lot. Similiarly Chanel no.5 does not make me aspire to be more feminine to match it, rather it recognizes the length of this chasm and pedals back accordingly.

So, to summarise: if you wear a fragrance which communicates something you both aspire to and are able to display, then the experience of wearing it will reduce your insecure motivation to display said thing. However if you wear a fragrance which communicates something which you have no self-belief in achieving, or else doesn’t communicate anything of either your aspirations or realities, then you reject this communication and similarly don’t display said thing.

What happens then if a fragrance is communicating something you don’t aspire to, but at the same time can’t remotely deny as being part of you? What if a fragrance communicates something which, in fact, you don’t like about your personality? Say a fragrance that made you smell greedy, or shallow, or deceitful. What happens then, how do the rest of your actions compensate?


Today I tried on two different fragrances from two different houses which, to me, smelt angry. One, Vetivier 46 by Le Labo, is a kind of charged, fiery anger. The other, Sandal De Mysore by Serge Lutens, is a brooding, manly anger. But they both carry in them something which communicates fury.

To start wirh Vetivier 46: vetivier absolute, when smelled un-diluted, is one of the most rough and jarring of all perfume ingrdients: it smells of burnt coffee and dirt, and you wonder how it ever became such a perfumery mainstay. When controlled however, and its best attributes highlighted, it becomes one of the most beautiful of notes. Similar to how patchouli can transform from being a dirty, hippy smell into a sweet, elegant note, vetiver transforms from this ugly earth demon to this pinnacle of class and sophistication. Vetivier 46 works so well however because of its success in leaving some of this demon in. This has a cave-dwelling, indolent, extravagantly earthy smell – the gaiac wood and vetiver lend the masculine beauty, while the black pepper and patchouli allows it to crackle off. This is where it becomes angry – it is so stubborn and uncompromising in itself and those crackles – the points of the scent which splinter but do not fizz like citruses (though it has bergamot in it, which I imagines adds to this effect) – hint at an emotional fragility (which contrasts with the calm vanilla on the base) and the cloves lends the fieriness. And that’s what it smells like really: fire. Disarmingly beautiful fire – not just the smoke or incense of so many other scents, but proper, burning fire.

Sandal De Mysore is an entirely different equation, but really just as beautiful. It starts as this almost funky, sweet-sweaty, spicy smell, but soon (but not too soon, it flashes its ugliness around a good deal first) smoothes into an unapologetic calm of Mysore sandalwood. But it is unerring. With that calmness, that ugliness is still there – the body odour, and the all too edible smell. It’s as if it forces itself into this calm beauty in spite of itself. And this is why it is so marvellous: in using its notes so delicately, it communicates a kind of restraint. This is where its anger appears: it seems so acceptable, now so well meaning, but you just saw it as this ugly, putrid beast. You know it’s lying now as it sits still, and you wait for it to break, to snap.

It doesn’t, it just sits and occasionally reminds you with a whiff of something animal, which is then all the more alarming.


My un-scientific, un-proven (un-provable) theory about smell and insecurity would suggest this: if our fragrance carries with it an attribute that we deem negative perhaps the wearing of it would lessen the uncontrollable, invisible effects and motivations of that attribute. Especially because it is beautiful, it gives us a chance to own it, to claim it as our own and then gain some control over it, rendering it more articulate, and at the same time, less dangerous. If we wear an angry fragrance the emotional experience is not one of making ourselves angrier, but rather that of recognising and bringing to the surface such things so they need never surprise us, and reach out from the dark corners like clawing hands.

Of course, as always I am quite willing to be completely wrong, but I hope I am right. It is a nice thing to believe.

(image on top, as well as samples, from - who do a wonderful job and I am very glad of the existence of)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Why You Should Pay More Attention to Your Sense of Smell

Two Reasons:

1. The sense of smell is the only one connected directly to the limbic system, the part of our brains which govern initial emotional and sexual response. Smell then goes on to stimulate the cortex, which allows us to recognise it on a concious level - but long before this we have already made our emotional reaction.

When we meet a lover, the first sense to register the pleasure that comes with this is the sense of smell, for this very reason. Perhaps, then, if you are wanting to make a good impression, there can be no better consideration than the consideration of how you smell, as opposed to what top you're wearing or how you've done you're hair.

2. Smell exists almost exclusively in the moment. We can remember and recite chords of a song very easily, and can mentally put together simple visuals without too much trouble - we're even, to some extent, able to recall the sensations of touch, even enough to make our tiny body hairs bristle appropriately. But smell is notoriously difficult to recall, granting little more than vague approximations, incomparably weak compared to the actual real life sensation.

This is why, I suggest, smell is an oddly useful sense in the staving off of depression and general anxiety. So much of depression and anxiety is perpetuated by the inability to live life in the now, and instead dwell over the past or worry about the future, thus allowing our at times brutal imaginations to run riot on our hypothetical lives. The experience of smell forces us to exist within a single moment - we can recognise and remember the experience of smelling it, but our recollection does not allow us to even remotely recreate this rich feeling. Nor, do we miss smells - it is akin to a death of a dozen thousand of Cupid's arrows in the back to smell a former lover's scent, we will not generally consider the smell when we have no access to it - we will not miss it (though we will miss their warm presence in bed and clever, articulate eyes), and now will we fear it (though we will fear the sound of their disembodied voice from behind a telephone reciever).

In practical terms, smell could be useful for a sufferer of depression and anxiety to simply learn to ignore the shame of the past and the nightmare of the future and simply posit themselves in a fragrant now. I am not suggesting smell is a magic bullet to happiness, but rather, it could be very useful tool in training our minds to simply be, rather than simply implode in panic and despair.

To try and see, why not next time you're feeling overwhelmed, just run a bath with a few drops of some essential oils - a good, and oft repeated blend is a few drops of bergamot, a few drops of lavender and a few drops of cedarwood - and just concentrate your mind to just dissect the smells.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Problem with Eyes: Some thoughts on Photography, Beauty, Pornography and Obsession.

- I have a problem with photographs. Or, more accurately, I have a problem with how we view photographs generally: we trust them to too great an extent. Take the photographs of night spots which occur in every city every week. Shot after shot of nameless people dancing, or smiling, or drinking, but usually existing in some kind of picturesque vision of hedonism-light (which of course isn't hedonism at all). People like to be in these. They like to look pretty in these. They like this because they feel somehow it reflects their night.

The photographs don't capture the smell of stale beer and spilt coke and whiskey. They don't capture the feeling of being groped by strangers. They don't capture every time you weren't smiling.

But we trust what they do capture. We trust and think "What a good night", because that's what our eyes both us and everyone else. They collect an entirely false reality, which we then happily present as a truth.

That is my problem with photography. Nothing to do with the photographs themselves, but the inherent, occularcentric trust we have in them.

(this is of course a specific example - not all photographs, even those taken of you in night spots, do this)

- The more you love someone, the less their looks matter. Stendhal talked about beauty as it being the promise of happiness, and when you fall deeply in love with someone the happiness they promise you increases dramatically - to unbounded levels. This is why everyone claims that their partner is the most beautiful - to them they truly, sincerely are.

Therefor you should never view yourself as physically un-beautiful - unless of course you feel you unable to give another person happiness.

(and we are all, provided we work at it, capable of both promising and delivering happiness to certain people)

- Pornography is perhaps the ultimate trap, and in being so, the ultimate allegory to the problem of occularcentricism when applied to sexual desire. If you pare it down to what is essentially its base essentials, it begins to sound like some kind of perversely clever torture:

1. Take the single most physically pleasurable act capable to a human being - one whose pleasure is experienced through the less tangible senses: touch, smell and taste.

2. Present this act without using any of those senses, instead displaying it only through the more tangible, intelligent senses: vision and hearing.

Thus, it presents all of the visual cues of pleasure, but removes all the actual sensations of pleasure.

(I should note I am talking here of sex on a purely physical, sensation related level - there is obviously an emotional level in which a great sector of its pleasure resides - I am merely talking of our raw interaction with it through the senses)

- Breast enhancements and cosmetic labiaplasties are two examples of extreme occularcentricism, and both fill me with a profound (and useless) sense of regret over our society. I have no respect for men that favour the aesthetics of boob-jobs - these are men that lack imagination beyond what their eyes inform them and are probably terrible lovers.

(I have no factual basis for this last point but it makes sense somehow, no? You wouldn't trust a perfumer that preferred fake flowers.)

- The current fashion of the clean-shaven pubis is, I think, semiotically connected to the mainstream rise of pornography brought about through the internet. The evolutionary function of pubic hair is to provide visual cues as to the readiness to procreate. Thus it has a sexual link, but one in which leads to a necessary continuation of the species - to put it another way: you fuck, you have children. Pornography presents sex having this particular equation entirely removed from it - no porn films involves the woman then becoming pregnant and the tanned couples starting a family together, because it removes the lack of consequences and thus safety in the sex presented. With the post-internet pornographic boom then the cultural-subconscious decision was made to remove the visual cues of actual sexual reproduction and instead imagine a more fantastical hypothetical scenario where sex never lead to childbirth.

Because we so rarely discuss sex openly or honestly, pornography, viewed largely in private, very easily dictates what we regard as sexual norms. And thus: pubic hair has become both weird and unattractive.

(Again, the visual decision dictates the tactile experience. Again, the problem with occularcentricism.)

- Of all the senses, sight is the only one with the requirement of distance - taste and smell measure actual molecules entering our systems, touch is only experiences on our surfaces (internal and external), sound is experiencable at whatever distance the sound is capable of traveling (and is stronger the closer you are), but sight doesn't work at all if you are too close to your subject. This makes sight the perfect sense for obsessive tendancies, as obsession only works when there is some kind of distance between the obsessed and the obsessee (otherwise the obsessed's fantasies fall flat as they are forced to realise the reality of their subject). If you are prone to obsessing over people then here are two tips to avoid it:

1. Hang out with them on a regular basis.

or if that is not an option,

2. Don't look at pictures of them.

Staring forlornly at a potential lover is recipe for both unhappiness and, if left unbridled, obsession, because it is giving you some kind of imaginary access to them, but none of the actual access which would sufficiently ground your relationship with them. It keeps them in your mind, but in that mind allows them to float to the heavens as if angels, now miles above you, leaving you only to look up and marvel at their completely fictitious splendor.

Monday, November 9, 2009

A Micro Story Draft: Strip Streetfighter

In an attempt to rescue our relationship, my girlfriend and I introduce the prefix "strip" into every facet of our day-to-day lives.

At morning we get up and go through our usual routine, taking our clothes off at every given moment. It takes is 2 or 3 times of putting on and taking off our pajamas before it starts to feel silly.

At breakfast she sleepily undoes her bra while sipping her first coffee with no hands. I whip my belt off and spill the milk.

In the bathroom I brush her teeth with one hand while taking her top off with the other - she does the same to me.

We say goodbye to each other on the front path of our house. She lifts her skirt instead of waving goodbye, I try to unbutton my shirt but the tie gets in the way.

At our lunch breaks we make excuses to others and hide in closets, locked offices, storerooms - anywhere we can be alone, to make out midday phone calls. We just have to trust that the person on the other line is also naked.

We end up getting take out rather then dining in a lot. No restaurant will let us eat the food off the other. We can't eat soup now for more or less the same reason. Spaghetti works.

Our nightly games of Streetfighter become Strip Streetfighter, one item of clothing lost per match lost. She chooses Chun-Li and I choose Ken. We start trying to lose on purpose if we sense the other person is feeling cold. I walk straight into her Thousand Burst Kick.

Bedtime approaches. She starts to undress for the final time but it suddenly occurs to me that I should tell her that I’m tired of her naked body. I tell her. She says “Well," and tells me my bare flesh makes her want to vomit. I tell her her shoulders are “stupid” and “nonsensical”. She tells me she no longer loves me. I tell her I already know.

I sit on the edge of our bed for the final time, running my fingers through my hair. She sits cross-legged on the living room couch, playing Streetfighter again, now alone, winning every round.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Something of Life (and then death)

My neighbour, Peter, just overdosed. There were the police in their fluro yellow vests and the ambulance officers in their calming blue shirts. By the time I was outside they'd already taken away the body - he was gone, dead. From the front of my house I saw the police searching through his now empty home. Their flashlights lengthened and shortened the shadows of the objects they passed over. One sat upon the officer who was closing the window: her shadow stretched right over my neighbour's yard. Then she closed the window.

I had known the guy since I moved in here almost 4 years ago. On my very first day there I passed him and another neighbour drinking wine together and talking. I thought "I wonder if that's what it's going to be like here - all chummy with neighbours and wine over conversation?". It wasn't. I didn't talk to him much outside of hellos and goodbyes. Until I started suffering from depression in 2007 I didn't realise he was severely depressed. I never knew he was an addict. It's odd how obvious it all is in retrospect though.


Please please please don't throw your life away. I am honestly begging you - you, you reading now. Don't even throw it away in small doses - hold it all close to your chest and cherish it. I don't care who you are and what you do with your time, I don't care how much money you make or how long it takes to fix up your hair, I don't care whether or not you give to charities and I don't care what kind of marks you got in high school - the very fact you're reading this means you're alive, and that means you have something that should be cared for and nurtured. Anything less is a tragedy.


Peter, I'm so so so sorry.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

L'Eau D'Issey pour Homme, or, the Problem with Popularity.

L'Eau D'Issey pour Homme was the last bottle of perfume I bought before I started becoming interested in perfume. This gives hint as to what it really is: the perfume for men who don't think to much about perfume. It is fresh, zesty, and with its strange combination of yuzu and sandalwood, quite unique.

My reason's for buying a bottle though had nothing to do with the smell. In fact, even when purchasing it I still hadn't warmed to the smell - it was too fresh and too zesty, like it was beckoning on insecurely for humid afternoon. My reasons for buying a bottle then, were very very stupid: it was because of the brand. At the time I was really into the work of a designer by the name of Tokujin Yoshioka. I loved his amazing chairs which communicated a real playful elegance and wit, but at the same time maintained a kind odd humility: it was as if the chairs themselves didn't know their own genius (this was, I should note, before I found and sat on one, and found it to possess a terrible texture and a generally over-bearing presence in real life). But Yoshioka was the young fledgling designer working under Miyake's wing, and I got into Miyake's curatorial design work for that. His watches collection in particular is very fun (though bounces between the stupid and the beautiful, depending on the watch). Feeling I trusted Miyake's judgment, I gambled on the bet that I would eventually warm to his perfume.

I did for a while. I really liked the fact that it didn't smell like I had imagined male fragrances to smell, but at the same time still smelt masculine. There was a real Japanese masculinity to it, a type of iki-masculinity - kind of dandy-ish but androgynous rather than feminine. The handsome young Japanese men you see on variety shows, extroverted and elfin and adored by women. And this last point is important.

Wear Issey Miyake and you will probably hear in female whispers around you "Someone's wearing Issey...". They then may ask you if it's you. You say "Yes.". They say:
"I love Issey Miyake, I had an ex who wore it..."
Or maybe it's their current partner. Mention the fact that you wear L'Eau D'Issey pour Homme and, far more so than any other fragrance, women will gush over both how much they adore it, and how they probably have had someone in their life who also wears it (without excaggerating, if the 5 women I've conversed with about Issey Miyake, all have had more or less this reply). Which tells you two things:
1. Women love Issey Miyake.
2. Probably because of this, men over-wear Issey Miyake.

I had no idea of Issey Miyake's reputation for either of these points when I bought it - had I known I probably wouldn't have laid down the cash. But it proved a very interesting investment as the experience of wearing the fragrance taught me something very important about fragrance: It does not pay to be popular.

This is why: Issey Miyake will never be You. Or they will be You, but not only You. If you were to walk down the street wearing Issey and passed someone who got a whiff - they would smell it, and more so than any other perfume, think of someone else - not You. Smell and memory tends to work on a first come, first served basis - the first person who wore lots of Issey will then claim the smell, and you may in fact become this person for one or two people - but for the vast majority you won't be: you will be their ex who once called them fat then locked himself in the bathroom for 2 hours for reasons they're still unaware of, you will be their brother that once sat on their bed crying after his lies about sleeping with Laura Bradley caught up with him in the most painful way, you will be their boyfriend that loves going into work everyday solely for the reason that he can stand and stare at the bikini-girl posters from Zoo magazine plastered on the storeroom wall. But you won't be You.

In fact it is so over-used it becomes a kind of fog. I smelt it on three men tonight just walking through the store. Eventually that Yuzu-Sandalwood combination becomes this general feeling of man: the zesty smell really blends badly with BO as well, so it generates a kind of lazy, "Was working, came home and stunk, sprayed something on over it to hide it", Lynx-effect male mentality. It becomes a man, undoubtedly, but a nameless, faceless man, existing somewhere in the general area of society. And maybe this works for you - maybe all you want in a fragrance is something that lets people know you are a man - any man. But you should want more, because without this fog, a good fragrance communicates so much more. Absinthe by Nasomatto, for example, communicates an earthy yet temperamental genius - a faulty person for sure, but someone whose pure world view is so profound you couldn't really doubt them. Antico Caruso by Profumum is a tremendously succesful man who has never forgotten his roots - he still has Sunday dinner with his family each week, and doesn't show off his wealth, as he is completely comfortable with his position in life. L'homme Sage by Divine speaks of such tremendous sensitivity, such awareness of the senses, that there is no way they can be anything less than a divine lover.

In the face of so many other fragrances, why settle for something that just says "man"? A nameless group, sweaty shirts and gelled hair, annoying you because they took their drinks onto the dance floor. You deserve better.