Sunday, September 1, 2013

Hoping to Clear the Air (literally!)

Today's tale is all about a mother reaching her breaking point. Having endured absolutely as much as she can handle, and throwing her hands up in surrender. Being forced to finally admit defeat in an epic battle between herself, and something much, much bigger than she. I'm talking about that most heinous of foes, that insidious...attacker of nasal passages...that's right: Male Body Odor.

You see, we've been struggling for a while now with the indisputable fact that my younger son (how shall I phrase this...) demonstrates a tendency to exude a bit of a..."gamy essence" when he returns from playing outside. (You know what I'm talking about, that certain..."eau de wild animal"...) And I do realize that as the only female in the house, I very likely possess the most highly-tuned (and easily insulted) olfactory sense in the family. But me when I say it's "whack-you-in-the-nose-overwhelming". It had gotten to the point that the first words out of my mouth upon greeting his re-entry had become, "Go change your shirt and re-deodorize, buddy!" (Incidentally, "re-deodorize" is now a standard WestEnders verb. Feel free to apply as necessary...)

Now, in my ongoing attempts to live as chemical-free as possible, I had purchased natural underarm products for both sons, quite some time ago. (Which they seize every possible opportunity to ridicule, but whatever, Skin Safety First, that's my motto...since I just this minute thought of it, anyway...) Derek dutifully smears on his Tom's Mountain Spring every day, and it totally works for him, keeping him fresh and inoffensive. (And really, what more can you ask from your "pit junk"? [Which is Husband's colorful nomenclature, also in the Family Dictionary]) Thus I bought a similar item for Riley, thinking it would be equally as effective. Ha! For whatever reason--varying body chemistry, different hormones currently floating around, who knows--the exact same substance does absolutely nothing for my 10-year old. So of course the next step was to try another organic brand, to see if we could get this little...personal problem...under control. And the verdict: N-O-P-E, not even a little bit.

Therefore, I was faced with a true dilemma: how to satisfy my desire to eschew potentially harmful, not-from-the-earth ingredients, while also protecting the environment and its inhabitants from...a rather potent form of..."air pollution"? I pondered this very question for a few weeks, examining my options and considering every angle that occurred to me. In the end, I reached the conclusion that every other (non-environmentally-obsessed person) surely jumped to immediately: the benefits of utilizing modern technology in this case far outweigh the drawbacks. Especially since--if I'm being completely rational, here--the children would probably need to actually ingest the large quantities, mind cause themselves any real damage. And even taking into account the adolescent proclivity for making iffy choices, I trust them at least NOT to do this. I mean, how much risk, exactly, can one expect from wiping a commercially-available, mass-marketed gel in one's underarm region? (On second thought, maybe we don't want to explore that too deeply...moving on...)

That's how I found myself in the personal care aisle at Rite Aid, determined to perform field-research on the topic, until I managed to locate something...acceptably...medium-natural. (Yes, I'm the crazy lady standing there for 20 minutes, picking up tubes, scanning labels, replacing them disgustedly to the shelf, and muttering under her breath about the obnoxious list of unpronounceable scientist-created compounds...sigh...) I know you're waiting with bated breath (and not just because of the smell-ha!) for me to reveal the Big Winner, so without further ado, here it is: Dove for Men, in Clean Comfort scent (whatever the heck that means).

HOWEVER, I also came away with quite an education in Male Hygiene, which I shared with my household when I had finished my successful mission. Remember I mentioned how Derek gives me as much grief as humanly possible for having to patronize our good buddy Tom, against his wishes. And just what, you may wonder, would he prefer, given the liberty to make his own selection? The short answer: basically, whatever he sees on TV, whose commercial makes him chuckle. That means he's been pushing for (wait for it) OLD SPICE. Are. You. Kidding. Me? In my recollection, Old Spice was something "men of a certain age" would copious amounts...meaning that I remember it as an extremely pungent, somewhat grandfatherly aroma. Apparently, though, they're working very hard to change their image over there at...whoever makes the stuff...because they now have names like Game Day and Pure Sport. Okay, I understand those, so far so good. But then you move down the row and encounter Komodo ("exotic winds and spicy freedom"...not making this up...) What the WHAT? I don't even know what to make of that. Unless you're near a landfill or a cattle farm, wind shouldn't even have a noticeable smell. (And "freedom"? Don't get me started on how that's supposed to register with one's schnoz...)

Derek, not at all surprisingly, was incensed (ha! sorry...) that I'd broken my solemn vow and bought "real deodorant" for Riley. (He laid on the "you like him better" speech pretty thick, but it's soooo difficult to take him the slightest bit seriously when he delivers this in his signature humorous/sarcastic tone, with an ear-to-ear grin...) But I assured him that that wasn't the worst, believe it or not. When relaying my drugstore saga to the male persons, I made a new promise that I fully intend to keep, no matter what: I will never, EVER buy a variety of Old Spice called...Wolf Thorn, whose cap boldly states "For Nocturnal Creatures". Oh. Heck. No. My boys (all 3 of them) crowed with delight even while they were formulating arguments as to why this particular product would be nothing but pure AWESOME. The discussion ended when Husband exclaimed, "C'mon, it sounds like it's made with wolf pee! It must be natural!" Actually, they might have continued excitedly discussing amongst themselves after that, but I wouldn't know, since I'd rolled my eyes and vacated the room by that point. (Having determined this entire fiasco now fell firmly in the category of Fights You Can't Win...)

The good news to all this silliness is, Husband declares that he remembers a time, just before Derek hit his growth-spurt-era, when our older child, too, had some "issues" of this kind. I myself don't quite recall, probably because I've blocked it out in defense, but I'm willing to take his word for it. Hopefully we can thus file it under "this, too, shall pass?" For now, my fingers remain crossed...and my nose, guarded!

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