Gifts For Dad: Colognes that are light on the nose AND the wallet

Recently, Tony Sirico, the actor who played "Pauly Walnuts" on The Sopranos, followed in the footsteps of Puff Daddy, Carlos Santana, and Kiss by releasing a personal scent.

Unfortunately, unlike his celebrity competition, Pauly Walnuts looks like the kind of cheesy, olfactorally-damaged mouk that puts on way too much cheap cologne before getting in an elevator with me. Needless to say, I was not reassured by Mr. Sirico's claim that his "Paolo Per Uomo" scent was made with cognac. While the idea of smelling like a mobster is unappealing, the idea of smelling like a drunk mobster sounds even worse.

By all accounts, Paolo Per Uomo is pretty awful. Reviews have ranged from "the typical wiseguy scent" and "smells like grandpa" to "aggressive, cheesy, and overpowering" and [smells like] "a hard night." One commenter noted "top notes of cigar ash and polyester jumpsuits with hints of stripper sweat and a cream-filled cannoli." All of this, however, is to be expected of a scent that was named after a fictional character, much less one that was titled in Italian by a native English speaker.

While I normally wouldn't be too concerned about cologne, I have developed a deeper appreciation for scent. My wife is a huge perfume junkie, and generally has between ten and fifteen bottles going at any particular time. While she initially appreciated the rich Zizanie cologne that I have been wearing ever since my father gave me a bottle in the early 1990's, she has recently worked to educate me about fragrances. I have learned, for example, that most mass-market scents are almost entirely crafted out of petroleum derivatives and other artificial ingredients. This seems particularly odd given the prices of most colognes. Paolo, for example, is going to sell for $64 per bottle, while a 1.7 ounce bottle of Burberry London runs $52.

If you're interested in going with the traditional Christmas gift for dad, you might want to look into L'Occitaine's line of men's colognes. At $44 for 3.4 ounces, their selections are generally a lot less expensive than most mass-market brands. More importantly, L'Occitaine uses natural extracts, yielding fragrances that are much richer, longer-lasting, and luxurious than their competitors. My personal favorite is Eau de Baux, a woodsy, 1940's-style potion, but they offer fragrances for every taste. Take dad on a trip and see what he likes!

Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and all-around cheapskate. A relative once gave him a bottle of Safari. He used it to repel animals and, on occasion, his sisters.
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