Smell you later

In a daring experiment, Slate’s brilliant legal analyst Dahlia Lithwick spent a week wearing Axe body wash, shampoo, and spray:

My own boys, at 8 and 10, are too young for Axe. . . or so I shall insist to myself until they are about 40. But after a single day at the beach this past August, when they shared a bathroom with their big hockey-playing Axe-scented cousin-slash-hero, even the 8-year-old was smearing his small hairless self with the body wash, the deodorant, and, in case he still couldn’t be smelled from the next pier over, the spray cologne. I decided to handle this olfactory terrorism like a mature adult: several days of merciless teasing. Dinners quickly became unbearable, with three Axe-drenched young people fogging up all tastes and smells until your pasta simply tasted like the painful ache at the back of your tongue that occurs when every boy in the house sees a daily Axe dip as part of his grooming. On it went, until the final weekend at the beach, when I found myself trapped in the shower with only a bottle of three-in-one Axe ™ product (shampoo, body-wash, and conditioner). So I broke down and used it.

Sunshine. Harps. It was the most sublimely powerful fragrance experience of my adult life. Truly. After decades of smelling like a flower or a fruit, for the first time ever, I smelled like teen boy spirit. I smelled the way an adolescent male smells when he feels that everything good in the universe is about to be delivered to him, possibly by girls in angel wings. I had never smelled this entitled in my life. I loved it. I wanted more.

Seriously!  Read on:

What happens when a fortysomething women walks around smelling like a 13-year-old boy for a week? Mostly nothing. As it turns out, ours is a culture in which, as a general principle, people don’t really feel comfortable commenting on your scent, even when it is so powerful as to be causing climate change. So even if you apply Axe before a funeral—as I did—nobody is going to grab you by the arm and ask you to please leave. I wore a heavy coating of it to a dinner party one night.

Go read the whole thing.  I laughed my a$$ off.  When I recall my adolescence, I can remember the distinctively animal funk my younger brother and his middle-school friends would generate in our living room playing Space Invaders with their shoes off.  Ugh.  I am so glad–nay, relieved, that chez Historiann features no residents of that general description.

Spoiler alert:  her elementary school-aged boys axed the Axe and went back to Suave Baby Shampoo.  Mission accomplished, Mom!  (Just make sure they and their funky little friends keep their shoes and socks on inside the house.)

15 thoughts on “Smell you later

  1. Although Monocle Man, in order to get the ladies, generally prefers to rely on his good looks and wit rather than dousing himself with corn syrup and rubbing alcohol, it is true that the Axe marketing engine did come up with a product that caught his attention way back when.

    For you see, despite my confidence behind the anonymous keyboard, I am in real life somewhat shy. That is until I get a couple of Shirazs into the the old quip-o-matic 2000, and then, for reasons that have supposedly been given a purpose by evolutionary biology, everyone has a good laugh and – thinks that the fatuous clown gene should be handed down?? All I ever wanted was to have a good time.

    But I digress. It is true that Monocle has been know to overindulge and, shall we say, not be at his wittiest or even presentable the next morning. And yes, my monocle almost fell out one morning when I heard the radio ad – “Try Axe Recover, the anti-hangover shower gel” ! ! Did I kowtow to the Axe machine and feed the beast whose most recent campaign opines that “the hottest girls are the most demanding”? Fear not, gentle reader, I abstained. But it was good to know that someone out there had tried to help in an hour of need.


  2. Oh, thank you, Historiann. I now have my paper proposal on the academic male body, propellant gas, and the olfactory politics of effervescence for next year’s ASA theme.


  3. A-HAhahahahaha! Maybe you can get Tenured Radical to be on your panel, too.

    Smalltownprof: What you need to find is a 14- or 15-y.o. girl (assuming he is straight) to tell him how uncool and desperate cologne is. Come to think of it, advice from anyone (male or female) aged 14-15 will probably be taken pretty seriously by him, whatever his object choice may be.


  4. And then the kid will want to get a Norelco, and start posting “Floating Heads” advertising clips on other peoples’ Facebook pages. Plus the inevitable plunge into “Soap-on-a-Rope” derangement.


  5. wait… not a drenching in Axe, but I can’t be the only woman who in fact finds a bit of cologne on a man dead sexy. I actually *hate* the North American male “take me as I is, baby” stance and much prefer the “I am a man willing to admit (and smell like) I have made an effort” approach found in many other places around the world.


  6. Old Spice? Wasn’t she one of the Spice Girls?

    I don’t wear any scent, so I don’t really like it on anyone. I don’t mind a lingering whiff of Speed Stick or of Head & Shoulders, though. (I sure don’t dig B.O.)


  7. I started using Axe shower gels in the locker room several years ago because I thought the over-the-top marketing to 14-year-old boys was funny. It somehow seemed appropriate for a lesbian, even a middle-aged one, but it didn’t occur to me that actual 14-year-olds are really drenching themselves in the stuff! Alas, the ladies have not been chasing after me [not that my spouse objects], but I haven’t noticed an overwhelming scent.

    Don’t bother with the Axe hair gels, though — it’s all container and little content.


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