January 03, 2007

By Mennen

By Otis Dart © 2006

I can't remember where I read it, but for some reason I believe that Adolf Hitler was so concerned about potential body odor that he went to extreme measures (I think it was surgery) to alleviate perspiration. Of course, I may be making this all up. All I know is that about ten days ago, I was thinking about Hitler as I walked down the Las Vegas Strip.

It was warm that day and I'd just inhaled some lettuce wraps from P.F. Chang's. It was a short walk to the MGM Grand, but by the time we were halfway there, I was sweating.

"Motherfucker," I muttered under my breath. The expletive was fine. Some people may say Vegas is a family town, but, the way I looked at it, if my friends can get rolled by a hooker and wheelchaired back to their hotel suites in this family town without a blink from the Convention and Visitors Bureau, I can mutter a curse word under my breath without fear of reprisal. Hence, "motherfucker."

I have a bit of a paranoia about how I smell. I rarely wear any scent, preferring just to smell clean. The last thing I want, however, is for my deodorant to fail me on any given day. I've spent years finding the perfect antiperspirant/deodorant combination. Without it, I fear that, in short, I might smell bad at any moment.

On this particular day, my hurry to get to the MGM poker room made me forget the third step in my post-shower ritual. Not sure how it happened, but I blame the Transportation Security Administration's 3-1-1 War on Moisture. My Right Guard Clear Stick Antiperspirant Deodorant was in a one quart bag and not right in front of me. It didn't make it to my pits, which, in my estimation, was the pits. Or something.

Now, I was already sweating and my day had barely begun. Walking back to the Aladdin to re-shower and apply the necessary product was an option, but in light of the limited time I had to play that day, I didn't see a trip back to the hotel room as a viable solution. I decided I would stop in at the gift shop in the West Wing of the MGM and buy whatever they had there. As the West Wing is a decent section of the MGM, I had high hopes. Cost be damned, I said.

Well, cost at least be slapped around a little bit, because as I was announcing the problem to my walking mates, they began betting on how much I was going to pay to not smell bad all day long. Somebody set the line at $5.00 (around twice the going rate for my regular product). I can't remember who took what side, but I was hoping that whomever took the "over" on the line would trip over a curb and land in a puddle of my sweat.

The sundries shop in the West Wing is right inside the back doors where we normally walk in. Within seconds of hitting the conditioned air, I was looking at the appropriate sundry shelf.

"Motherfucker," I muttered again, this time a little louder and in the direction of the chick behind the counter. "This is all you have?"

She nodded.

The only male deodorant on the shelf was none other than original scent Speed Stick (by Mennen!). There were so many problems with this, I almost walked out and went back to my hotel. First, it was only deodorant and not antiperspirant, which means I was going to be sweating down my sides all day long, the sexy bitch that I am. Second, it was fucking Speed Stick, which meant, regardless of whether I was sweating, I was going to smell like a guy I lived with in college who swore by Mennen products. Third, the container cost $5.05.


By and by, though, I stood in the men's room, at a urinal no less, applying Speed Stick to my pits. The smell hit me like several years of college at once. Anyone standing within a three-foot radius of my arms knew I was wearing Speed Stick. It's one of the most distinctive male products on the market. The only thing that would've been more obvious would be wearing Aqua Velva. Or a toupee.

But, poker player that I am, I persevered and made it through the day. Sure, I occasionally muttered profanity and declared to anyone who listened that I smelled like a specific college roommate. But, after five hours or so, I got used to the smell. It was like home. A very, very smelly home.

The unfortunate smell lasted the better part of the afternoon and until I could get back to the room to clean up for the dinner mentioned in the previous post. Finally I was able to smell like I wanted and get rid of the college smell.

Or so I thought.

My wife is the queen of laundry. If I could find a crown made of dryer sheets and clothes hangers, I would put it on her head. She can get stains out of mud pies. As for smells, something with which the mother of a toddler is quite familiar, she is an expert in stink removal.

Which made it all the more surprising when I put on one of my favorite t-shirts yesterday morning and realized that I just didn't like the way I smelled.

Somehow, through some fucked up quirk of science, the Speed Stick smell had managed to live through Vegas, a plane trip, a week in the hamper, a wash, a dry cycle with a Bounce Febreze Fresh Scent sheet, and a couple days in my closet.

Now, there's a part of me that has to applaud Mennen for creating a product that can apparently survive nuclear winter and the second coming of Christ. I mean, that takes some serious science. Still, there's another part of me, a part that is exceptionally sensitive in the olfactory area, that just wants his shirt back.

I'm not sure I can beat the science, though. Even Hitler would be impressed.

Otis is a writer from Greenville, SC.

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