Anyone who's ever welcomed a born-and-bred Russian into their home knows that it’s customary for guests to bring a gift. Typically, this might be flowers, chocolates, or a refrigerator magnet. When, however, Petersburg friends called at my family’s home the day after Thanksgiving for dinner and catching up, they brought with them an early Christmas gift for the hosting men: Russian “Superman Blue Line” cologne – the packaging for which boldly sports an image of President Vladimir Putin in sunglasses.
“Putinmania,” of course, is nothing new: we've in past noted 13 fascinating Putin-related activities rocking the Russian Federation. However, I was rather surprised by this gift. Even though, as a grad student, I am rarely compelled to don a suit and tie (a perk), and my sunglasses are bought exclusively from the CVS bargain rack, my hope was that “Superman Blue Line” would impart to me just a little more swagger, and, perhaps, even up my judo skills. After all, doesn’t every woman want a man (who smells) like Putin?
Part I: Unboxing
The first thing I’m struck by is that, from the front, this doesn’t seem to be a Russian product. All the writing on the side is in English or French (“eau de toilette”).
Wait, there’s a Russian flag on the side. And the back reads, in Russian: “Туалетная вода для мужчин серии Superman ‘Blue Line.’”
Translated, that’s: “Men's cologne, from the Superman ‘Blue Line’ series.”
Trust me, it sounds better in Russian.
The ingredients follow, all in Russian, as well as notes for usage and storage, as well as information on the company. I tried Googling “Superman Blue Line Cologne” and came up with only Clark Kent-related results, as if this product doesn’t exist on the internet. Strangely, too, Putin isn’t mentioned anywhere on the box, aside from the photo. I suppose the fact that Putin is the “superman” in question is simply assumed. But of course, it is. I mean, who else hangs out with wild horses in his spare time?
I’m next surprised at how hard it is to open the box. But that just heightens the mystery. If I’m going to get this bottle out without tearing the cardboard, I need to think with the cunning of a KGB agent, the agility of an ultralight pilot, and the scientific mind of an underwater archaeologist.
Scissors work too.
Part II: Application
The bottle itself is high-quality; that’s nice. Seems like solid glass, nice and sleek, hefty, almost. The design is minimalist, with a sticker mirroring the front of the box. While I keep getting the impression that the sticker might be just the slightest bit crooked, it oozes cool. I rarely wear this sort of thing, but I guess I could start. I could see it definitely contributing to a history seminar discussion.
I’m a fan of the “spritz-upward-and-walk-through” method, so I take off the cap — matte plastic, but decent quality — and give it a shot. A geyser of the stuff plumes into the air, and I make three measured steps to let it wash over me.
I’m no connoisseur, but if I were to describe the scent of this men’s cologne, I would compare it to the scent of men’s cologne.
I can feel the manliness seeping into my pores. Yes, I’d love to go mushrooming in Siberia, how did you know?
No one’s around, so I look to my dog, beaming for approval. She stops gnawing on her rubber ball for a moment, sniffs twice, and goes back to it. Superman Blue Line is Luna-approved, apparently; fitting, since Putin is also an avid dog person.
Part III: Aftermath
A few hours pass, and it’s still around. While I honestly appreciated its strength at the beginning, I’m beginning to feel like it’s been around too long: the smell is stuck in my nostrils. Frankly, the correct word might be “stagnating.” Despite my best efforts, the cologne is still, stubbornly, sticking around.
All in all, though, it’s a solid cologne, in that it fulfilled its purpose of making me smell like men’s cologne. Did it change my life? No; my martial arts skills failed to materialize. Did it smell decent? Yes.
Regarding swagger, I started at 0, probably, so it had nowhere to go but up. So Superman Blue Line objectively did a great job of making me cooler than I already was. Next time I have a formal event I'll have to wear it. In my case, that will probably be a local academic conference.
Oh, and I’m not sure if it’s too early, but I’d like a tiger cub for my birthday.
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