High school was such a confusing time for men: we had terrible taste in music, wore awful jeans, didn't know how to talk to women, and literally all had the same stupid haircut Justin Bieber had at age 12. But the biggest problem that our simplistic teenage minds couldn't comprehend was how to buy cologne and apply it conservatively.
In a recent (and f*cking endless) email chain in the Supercompressor/Thrillist office, all the dudes gave Vietnam War flashback-style accounts of the seemingly-manly scents they bathed themselves in during high school. Here's the final list, ranked for your convenience.
Pro-tip: You don't buy something just because it's in the classiest section of the CVS grooming section. You know who wore this stuff? The Student Council President. How could you trust a kid who runs for president of an organization as insignificant as Student Council? It's just not right. Let the dream die.
12. Adidas Cologne
Perhaps one of the greatest mysteries of our generation—above the JFK assassination, above who shot JR, above Beyonce's clearly fake pregnancy—who the f*ck at Adidas threw out the suggestion of making cologne? Answer: it must've been the CEO's 13-year-old son. Because that's who wore Adidas Cologne...young boys who frequented Walgreens.
11. Obsession For Men
Calvin Klein's Obsession smelled like a magazine...or maybe magazines smelled like Obsession? It's kind of like the-chicken-and-the-egg argument at this point. You could find a bottle of this stuff hidden in the sock drawer of brooding teens all over the country who wanted to prove that they were way cooler and smelled way better than those douchey Lacrosse kids. Ugh, they're so cool.
10. Jean Paul Gaultier Cologne
JPG—or "the cologne bottle shaped like a dude" in layman's terms. This stuff smelled like a Saturday afternoon of cruising around PacSun and eating Auntie Anne's pretzels. Perhaps the least pretentious on the list, those who decided to wear JPG were really, really, really just trying. It wasn't until years later that we figured out nice-smelling things don't necessarily have to come from bottles shaped like people.
9. Fierce Cologne - Abercrombie & Fitch
From the hormonal, pimply brain of a 16-year-old boy, of course it made sense that A&F's Fierce Cologne was the way to go. Hell, there's a chiseled dude's torso right on the bottle—that means you too could have chiseled abs of steel! Also, is anyone else totally surprised that this stuff is still for sale? Both Abercrombie and Fitch know the scent game suspiciously well.
A few responses I received:
"Curve. I purchased it at a Kohl's. I still have the bottle and spraying it will instantly bring back the sensation of my middle school girlfriend blue-balling me for the infinity-eth time."
"My high school boyfriend wore Curve...that smell will forever remind me of being 15."
7. Old Spice
To be clear, this was your dad's bottle of Old Spice and you had no idea how much to apply—so you dumped the stuff on your chest, 'cause chicks dig that vintage feel. Learning how to dab, not dump, was your very first life lesson in moderation—and you should thank Old Spice for that.
6. Michael Jordan Cologne
MJ could do no wrong in the 1990s—except that whole baseball thing. He had his hand in every major stylistic choice for aimless teenagers, so it was only natural that we'd want to smell like Mike. So, how does Mr. Jordan smell? A little bit like victory + a lot like sweat.
5. Drakkar Noir
Drakkar Noir wasn't for boys—it was for MEN! Tall, dark, brooding manly men who listened to Joy Division and wanted to emphasize to the ladies how adult that particular musical choice was. It has "noir" right in the name of the product and guys who wore it were constantly surrounded by ski bunnies...no, ski women.
4. Tommy Hilfiger
Fact: You bought this in the discount section of your local Walgreens, along with miniature Butterfingers from the last Halloween and generic-brand soda. Fact: You wore it every single day. Fact: You thought it smelled good. Fact: It didn't.
3. Cool Water
Before you transitioned to the rustic sophistication of Aqua di Gio, there was Cool Water. It was the Less Than Zero of colognes and you didn't have to dip too deeply into your parents' bank account to whip up the necessary amount of cash to get this stuff on your neck. This stuff still smells good—to hell with popular opinion!
When you think of Bod, you think of those ridiculous commercials in between episodes of The Simpsons and Frasier: "Oooooh...hot bod! I want your bod." Speaking of ridiculous, whose idea was it to package cologne inside a freaking Windex bottle?!
That's the antithesis of cologne—a substance that should only cover a tiny section of human skin. This stuff was dangerous for trigger-happy teenagers, fresh off the acquired bloodlust from Goldeneye, and it smelled like a gym bag. HOT BOD.
1. Axe Body Spray
Axe was the crème de la crème. It was the crème de la crème de la la la de la crème. The icing on the cake, the middle of an Oreo, the leftover milk in a bowl of Cocoa Puffs. You never just sprayed yourself with Axe, you drenched yourself in it. It was perfect for hot dates, the mall, a lazy Sunday—as well as a post-shower pick-me-up. Hell, you could use Axe in place of a shower.
It was an alternative to laundry and a best friend, an older brother, liquid gold...not to be confused with regular gold. If you were in high school when this stuff came out, it simply made contact with your skin. Know why less people use it nowadays? Too many reported deaths from drowning in p*ssy.