Aqua Velva Ice Sport. The aftershave that says, "Welcome to the nineties!" 1994, to be exact. Which, if memory serves me, is the year it was released, and two years before my freshman year of private Catholic high school (short skirts, short skirts, short skirts, short skirts, short skirts). Either way, it's been two decades since I smelled it. I was a teenager, secretly lusting after Natalie Merchant, and obsessed with science fiction novels and everything eighties.
One thing I do remember with utmost clarity is smelling Ice Sport for the first time at the drugstore. Unlike the original, it was in plastic - it always came in 3.5 oz plastic squeeze bottles. I remember thinking, "This will smell like regular Ice Blue, and I'll just buy that instead." Ho boy, was I wrong. My first impression was what impressions are meant to be: lasting. This stuff embedded itself in my memory forever as being the best smelling aftershave of all time. One sniff had me shamelessly smashing my nostril into the little plastic dispenser like I was snorting lines. This was a religious experience.
I promptly bought the bottle, used it, then bought another. And another. And another. For a year or two, this was my aftershave. I used it religiously. I never tired of it. And then, inexplicably, the drugstore in my neighborhood stopped carrying it, as did every other store in the area. It was, what? Discontinued? Sent to a different region of the country? I'll never know. I grieved for a day or two, bought regular Ice Blue, and moved on. The greatest aftershave of all time was no longer available to me.
By the time I reached my twenties, I was certain that Ice Sport had been discontinued. It was nowhere to be found in Connecticut, and must have been hard to find online, too, or I would've surely bought a bottle. Then, sometime in the last ten years, I noticed it had returned. Not to store shelves, but to internet listings for Aqua Velva, and I realized I could experience this wonderful elixir again. (I didn't until this fall.)
Why's it so special? It's Gillette Cool Wave, with the bitterness replaced by a lick of raspberry sweetness, the novel fruit note dosed so gently into the dihydromyrcenol that it hovers in the outer periphery of detectibility. There isn't much, if any, citrus. There's not even that much dihydromyrcenol. Yet it's so nineties that when I splash it on I see Carson Daly's big blue doe eyes pleading with hordes of post-pubescent bimbos to Total Request Live anything other than Ray of Light (does Charlie Sheen holding a candy bar to Kristy Swanson's back mean something to you). Even the label, boasting a "vitamin-enriched" formula, hearkens back to the healthnut craze of the Clinton era. I can almost hear the Native American New Age music as I type this.
Ice Sport is potent. Nineties powerhouse potent. It would make a good cologne. This is what I would want an Ice Blue cologne to smell like, if such a thing existed today. It's fresh, but also warm, sweet. But not obnoxiously sweet. It's glacé, playfully saccharine, a lilting song of a smell that carries its CD tune on the air with a lightness that fills the room. It raises the obvious question: Why don't perfumers use raspberry more often? What prevents the judicious use of such a rich, wonderful note? When will someone invent a time machine so I can go back and browbeat my Victoria's Secret catalog-hoarding self into asking Jessica Janus out after study hall?