Something isn't in the air anymore

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I'm the queen of my own compost heap, and I'm getting used to the smell.

Video: Kirby's Augusta
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-- Ani Difranco

Valentine's Day doesn't smell like it used to.

Perfume, that February favorite of years gone by, is apparently not the fashion powerhouse it used to be.

The New York Times reports that spending on upscale women's fragrances slipped last year in the United States, part of a multiyear trend. The market research company NPD Group said $1.97 billion was spent, down from $2 billion in 2002.

I think they're probably right. Women and men just don't seem to wear as much as they used to.

In fact, I find myself somewhat irritated when I run into someone who smells of cologne.

I'm not sure why this all changed. So much of my youth is the memory of fragrances -- Jade East, Hai Karate, English Leather, British Sterling, Canoe.

Of course, no one wanted to appear to be a sissy when it came to men's cologne, so we cheated and called it "aftershave." When you put it on, it would sting a bit, and what's more manly than pain?

I was a fan of Hawaiian Surf. It came in a bottle surrounded by rings of cork and was so potent you didn't need too much -- probably not the smartest way to market a product.

While I never made it to Hawaii, at least I thought I knew what it smelled like.

Corky.

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MAIL CALL: Wayne and Pat Fuller , of North Augusta, didn't get to Hawaii, either, but they do send a postcard from the Great Smoky Mountains.

They write: "Came here to celebrate Wayne's birthday. Great place to relax and wind down."

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TODAY'S JOKE: Here's one from Bill Wood , of Hephzibah, about another man's travels.

The man appeared before St. Peter at the Pearly Gates.

"Have you ever done anything of particular merit?" St. Peter asked.

"Well, I can think of one thing," the man offered. "On a trip to the Black Hills of South Dakota, I came upon a gang of bikers who were threatening a young woman. I directed them to leave her alone, but they wouldn't listen.

"So, I approached the largest and most heavily tattooed biker and smacked him in the face, kicked his bike over, ripped out his nose ring and threw it on the ground. I yelled, 'Now, back off, or I'll kick the heck out of all of you!' "

St. Peter was impressed. "When did this happen?" he asked.

"Couple of minutes ago," the guy answered.


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