Although Carole and I do a lot of our shopping at Goodwill and other thrift stores, I can’t remember visiting a flea market in decades. Mostly, they were fun places to visit when I traveled overseas (in Paris with my folks when I was 11 -- I bought foreign postage stamps for my collection -- and in Tallinn, Estonia much more recently while on a choral tour). And I doubt I’ve never seen a “fake fragrance” or counterfeit cologne.
Part of the problem here is I’ve never had a use for cologne. Though I never thought I had a great body, I was also pretty comfortable in it most of the time, so painting, puncturing, scraping, or etching my skin seemed sort of disrespectful to it -- almost an act of self-loathing. With respect to scent in particular, it helped that my future wife told me, early on in our relationship, that I naturally smelled like sandalwood. With the passing of the years, maneuvers of damage control -- or aging control -- such as the application of deodorants and mouthwash have become useful, even necessary, but I regard those as “return to status quo” measures as opposed to gilding the lily, as it were.
I can appreciate perfumes on women; I have in fact complimented women (friends and strangers) on their obviously artificial scents. Don’t quite know what to say to the fairly common problem of women, young and old, who are drenched in perfume to the point where an odoriferous cloud that’s a good 10 to 12 feet in diameter floats around with them and strikes you like a permeable brick wall as you approach and pass them.
All this is prefatory to the obvious conclusion that I’ve never purchased a real perfume or cologne, let alone a fake one, in my life and probably never will. It doesn’t surprise me that cheap knockoffs might contain harmful substances; there are always people out there who will try to make a fast buck by preying on other people who want a cheap shortcut, but usually, you get what you pay for. (On the other hand, what’s with “even urine”? Urine has long been used for various medicinal and cosmetic purposes; J.D. Salinger, the celebrated author of The Catcher In the Rye who died this week, has been said to have been a proponent of drinking one’s own urine).