Publisher’s Note: Scent Savvy

By Mike O’Brien, Co-Publisher

I see myself as a fairly with-it guy, with some knowledge and understanding of the female gender. Maybe not 100 percent in the know, but considering that baseball players whose batting average exceeds .300 during their careers make the Hall of Fame, as do basketball players whose shooting percentage exceeds .500 (that means those guys only get something right one-third to one-half the time), I’m probably right about things female 80 to 90 percent of the time—no doubt an All-Star husband. Thus, I can confidently conclude that I am one sensitive male with a highly respectable understanding of the other sex. Unfortunately, I recently lost some credibility in this area.

I have bought my wife perfumes, soaps, lotions and candles throughout the years, and sniffed enough Chanel, Fendi, Dior and Clinique to compare notes and learn what she and we like. She’ll often ask which scent to wear for an evening out, and I’ll select different ones for different occasions.

One recent cold winter evening, Jennifer had her pajamas on early, as we had made a fire and sat down on the couch to watch the Kings game on television. Sitting next to her, I noticed that she smelled really nice. I complimented her, and she smiled, watching the game intently. Later, her fragrance again caught my attention and I asked her what scent she had put on that day. She said she wasn’t even sure she had used perfume that day, and we continued to watch a disappointing Kings performance.

A few evenings later, it happened again. When I sat down with her after dinner and a long workday to watch a Season Five episode of her current fave, “24,” the enticing aroma that had grabbed my attention days earlier did so again. “You smell great. What is that perfume?” I asked. She had no idea, though once again she was clad in her winter pjs, not ready to go anywhere but to sleep. My nose continued to twitch happily, so I went to the tray in the bedroom on which she keeps her various perfumes and mists. I began to sniff each one of the dozens of bottles. But my nosy research failed; I could not locate the winning scent.

Still determined, I went back and sniffed her some more, only to realize that the fragrance was emitting directly from her pajama top and not from her. When she mentioned that she had done laundry all day, it dawned on me that the hundreds of dollars spent throughout the years on fine perfumes were not the cause of my delight. Rather, the alluring aroma turned out to be Tide’s “Mountain Spring” washing detergent. So much for my nasal knowledge—my early entry into the Sensitive Male Hall of Fame may be delayed awhile.

Important note about this issue of Sacramento magazine: If you live in susceptible parts of the Sacramento region, your home, possessions and life may be threatened sooner rather than later by a flood. Sacramento has been highly vulnerable to flooding for hundreds of years and has not done enough to protect itself. Now, as a result of continued effort by many (with images of post-Katrina New Orleans still fresh in our minds), Sacramento and other Northern California communities are waking up and taking action to increase protection toward a 200-year level of protection (and higher, as needed). Please see Andrea Todd’s “The Coming Deluge,” a 12-page feature beginning on page 138. I urge you to prepare yourself for a flood, to have a family evacuation plan at the ready and to buy all the flood and catastrophic insurance available to you.

Improved protection also will come about from the New Assessment District Formation, and passage of the funding “Mechanism for Comprehensive Sacramento Area Flood Protection” being undertaken by the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency. Passage of the new assessment is enormously important. It combines some existing flood control districts and adds new ones. While it will increase the property owner’s costs, it leverages federal and state support worth billions, and provides vast improvements that will better protect at-risk properties and lives in the American River and Sacramento River flood zones and beyond. Property owners in affected areas should watch for a ballot in the mail in the coming months and vote to support it. For more information, please go to