I have more dreams about proper hygiene than I used to. Maybe it’s approaching middle age, or just the fact that I no longer flip burgers for a living, but I’ve started to have night terrors about social ills such as bad breath and perspiration. The days of being a teenager and only worrying about grooming as it related to meeting girls have long since passed. Those were the days when I owned an economy sized can of Right Guard. Wonderful stuff, Right Guard was. I received a can upon graduating the fifth grade and it lasted through my Junior year in college. There was no issue of not using the Right Guard. The can was just enormous. Some of the worst days of my teens were when I mistook my mom’s can of Aquanet for the Right Guard and shellacked myself with hairspray. No wonder my grades were so bad. Some days I couldn’t raise my hand because my arm was hairsprayed to my side. We knew nothing of climate change in the 80’s. There’s still a hole in the ozone layer over my childhood home that scientists have linked to my giant can of aerosol deodorant. The ozone was so depleted that we choose not to have a lemonade stand as kids. We just walked outside with bacon and let it cook for all of our neighbors.
Now I have dreams about being a stinky sort of person. I wear Wilhelmina mints around my neck at night so that I can ward off bad breath. What a weird thing to start dreaming about. I used to dream about cars, and women. Sometimes women and cars. Dreams these days are of hygiene-ville, where I’m looking around for my lost can of Old Spice. It isn’t easy being an adult, but it sure smells better.
Living voluntarily with women* is often a bewildering experience for the frail male mind. As a husband and father, I’m usually taken aback by the amount of product the women in my life possess in the name making themselves presentable before leaving the house. My nine-year old daughter, still a child, owns an arsenal of cosmetic products, including an astounding array of nail polish colors. I asked her yesterday, purely from an anthropological point of view, if she owned a shade that makes one’s fingers look like they’ve been slammed in a car door. She produced several samples. My wife attains a natural, bouncy hair look by heating foam coated cylinders in a case full of electrified thermostatic coils. I learned long ago not to tell them that any of this ritual war painting and heated head-gear is odd. No, the anthropologist stays back. I take notes. I wait in the car while they get ready. Silent.
As a man, I too own product, albeit very basic. I believe that there are four time honored smells that we douse ourselves in while waiting for the elusive war painted women to draw near. Those scents, all cloned and renamed by Old Spice, are barbecue, Sports Illustrated renewal card, pine tree air freshener and Bruce Lee (all flavors of Pringles, too, which is weird). We only shave so that the women in our lives can differentiate between us and Sasquatch (we learned long ago that ‘Squatch has a subscription to Sports Illustrated, which masks his native smell). We don’t put electrified devices on our heads in order to curl wayward follicles. No, we hire the best and toughest of our kind to put fiberglass helmets on their domes and run smack into each other. After the battle, men will celebrate with Pringles and fermented wheat beverages. Not weird at all.
*The reality is that they volunteer to take us in. Otherwise we’d be in our forties, still out on the lawn running into each other.