There's this guy I know who wears way too much cologne. Every time I see him, he shakes my hand and leaves me with a handful of his overpowering scent.

When this happens, I immediately go to the restroom and wash my hands to get rid of what I consider an invasion of my personal olfactory zone.

You probably know the type. For some reason, they douse themselves every morning and spend the rest of the day spreading their scent like an animal marking his territory.

Whether it's heavy-duty cologne or ultra-strong after-shave lotion, they apparently have no built-in alarm system to warn them they are over the odor line.

You'd think their wife or some other loved one would take notice of this issue and have a fragrance intervention. But it continues.

Perfume perpetrators

There are some people you can smell coming long before they enter the room.

You know who they are. Apparently they do not.

Women who wear overpowering perfume are easily tracked. You don't have to be a bloodhound to know they've just exited the elevator or stepped out of somebody's car. Scent tends to hang like moss in the swamp when there is little or no breeze to sweep it away.

But men are different. We're not supposed to smell that good.

Granted, we've come a long way with the advent of deodorants and other pleasantries that make us passable in public. But to saturate the senses with heaps and gobs of cologne is a sure sign of a cover-up, personally or psychologically.

In the old days, we used to say a guy took a "Marine Shower" when he simply poured on the English Leather rather than actually taking a bath after a workout.

These days, I think it's just a matter of being oblivious.

In moderation

A man's fragrance, in my opinion, should be subtle, if not vaguely imperceptible.

I've got a bottle of some smelly stuff in my bathroom cabinet, but it tends to last a very long time. That's because if I use any at all, it's sparingly, and then I use water to dilute it.

My rule is that if I can smell it on myself it's too much. I would rather someone pause and wonder if they caught a slight hint of an interesting scent rather than feeling like they were mugged by Musk or brutalized by Brut.

If you think about it, you can easily recall the men in your life and how they used fragrance, for better or worse.

I remember my father smelling faintly of Mennen's Skin Bracer, a gym teacher who wore too much Old Spice, and a co-worker who was covered in Calvin Klein.

I believe all these scents have a place, in moderation.

So it's not that I hate the odors that come in a bottle. It's just that I don't want to wear yours the rest of the day.

Reach Ken Burger at kburger@postandcourier.com or 937-5598.