Lessons from a Tiny Bottle
I get a few mixed messages here and there from my kids.
A few weeks ago my middle daughter asked me a question out of left field – would I ever date again, maybe fall in love, get married? I answered it tactfully, truthfully. I spend a whole lot of time just dealing with each day with my kids. That’s a lot of my focus right now. There’s nobody special on the horizon at the moment, so to speak, so I didn’t see a need to beat a dead horse with the conversation. I did say it would depend on who, when, the circumstances, all of that.
The reality is, and my daughter knows this, if the opportunity presented itself I don’t think I would pass it up. It would have to be the right opportunity, certainly, but the biggest thing I told her is this: sometimes adults need to talk with other adults. Even my college-age daughter, whom I adore and would kill to spend time with anytime I can now that she’s in college . . . is still my kid. It’s not the same.
I thought that was it, I really did.
Then just the other day she was walking through the kitchen and found a tiny cologne bottle of mine on the counter.
“What the heck is this?!”
“What,” was my reply, sounding like every other confused and befuddled father.
“This little bottle. Why do we even have this?”
“That’s my cologne, kiddo.”
“Yeah, I get that. Why do YOU need it?!”
I don’t often roll my eyes, but I must have.
“It’s mine, Hannah.”
“You don’t wear cologne.”
“How do you know?”
“Well . . . the guys at school wear cologne. I can smell them coming a mile away.”
Here I sigh and inform her that teenage guys think taking a bath in Axe and Hillfiger and hell Hai Karate if they can find it is par for the course. (It’s a joke, folks, look up the cologne if you don’t get it)
“A little goes a really long way,” I informed her. “The boys think it will get girls’ attention and the panther pheromones or civet glands they grind up in there will make girls hot and bothered.”
“Ewww,” she spat at me.
“What, the fact guys think you’ll get all enamored by their cologne?”
A little goes a long way, I informed her. There was a time when a tiny bit of cologne did get my college girlfriend’s attention. But it was never the cologne it was everything: the attention, the dinner, opening the door for her, walking her to the door . . . those are the things that the smell reminded her of when it wafted her way.
“So why do you have the cologne, Dad?” She was looking at me with an inquisitive but slightly accusatory glare.
“I’m supposed to stink around the attractive women at work and out on stories?” I asked her with a bit of accusation myself.
“Well…no, but…what do you mean attractive women at work and on stories?”
“Hannah, there are a couple things you need to remember. I don’t wear that much nor do I wear it often. Sometimes even guys have to spruce up a little. We dress up, too, wear a suit, what have you. Sometimes it’s to meet a standard like if you’re going to court or the capitol. Sometimes, even if you don’t have any intention of talking to or asking out a woman…you want to still make the right impression. That’s human nature, sweetheart.”
She mulled this over.
“You will one day think you should wear perfume and I’ll inform you that you need not bathe in same said perfume.”
“No I won’t!”
“You may not mind so much one day.”
I lowered my shoulders a little and looked at her and told her the last little secret the bottle had to impart:
“And sometimes I spray just a little, kiddo, because your Mom liked that cologne. It reminds me of her and it makes me smile . . . just once in awhile, when I need to remember the best things about being with your Mom.”
That made her soften, just a bit . . . and skeptically put the bottle back on the counter and walk away.
Though there’s part of her, I could tell, wanted to take the bottle away so I wouldn’t have it any more. Just in case.
But in the end, she realized that we’re all moving at different paces for sure . . . but we’re all moving. Sometimes things change and new people come into our lives. It doesn’t have to be really hard but that doesn’t make it easy, either. Regardless . . . we can still be our best when they do.