If you were looking for a way to gauge media susceptibility, you could do far worse than to look into the way that men use colognes and the like versus the way that these products actually work. There’s a terrific example right now for something called “Axe” that embodies the paradigm. Axe is a body spray, and although there are different varieties, they all smell pretty much like air fresheners. The commercial in question shows a guy fumigating himself with this stuff as hordes of bikinied women stampede him from every direction-- by land and by sea. The reality, of course, is that the liberal application of Axe would be likely to cause a stampede in the opposite direction, an evacuation of the bikini babes, leaving the hapless guy alone on the beach, reeking of candy apple and musk.
This is not a new problem: remember Hai Karate? It came with a marshal arts defense manual, so that the user could fend off the women driven wild by the scent. Since it kind of smelled like ammonia I don’t imagine that too many guys had to worry about it.
It may be my imagination, but there were probably more horrible after shaves back then. There were guys who favored Aqua Velva, for instance, endorsed by no lesser light than Pete Rose. It is hard to imagine anyone regarding Charlie Hustle as a grooming paragon, but people-- or at least guys—apparently did.
At some point for most men the dime drops, and we stop intentionally perfuming ourselves altogether. Freshly showered and smelling faintly of Safeguard is fine, but it doesn’t have to be that way. A subtle scent is a pleasing thing, and it is surprising how it can work to make a positive impression—chances are there is a guy at your workplace with a signature scent. Watch some time as he picks up his messages from the receptionist after lunch and gets the big smile when he walks up and the soft sigh when he leaves. Olfaction is the sense that is linked to the deepest parts of the brain, after all, and a whiff of light cologne can be very pleasing.
And speaking of haircuts, the maestro, the Manolo, weighs in on John Edwards' $400 buck coif:
"If the Manolo were the gambling man, he would be willing to bet that other candidates are also spending many hundreds of dollars each month on their hair care.
Certainly Mitt Romney and the hair-beplugged Joe Biden have the mark of the expensive stylist beast upon them. But then neither of these politicians is so simple as to have his campaigns pay for his hair care, which means that this expense will not become the matter of the public record, which was John Edwards’ true error.
Finally, if you doubt the importance of having the best haircut possible, the Manolo reminds you of the cautionary counter example, of the politician who has never spent more then $14 on his hair cut. His name is Dennis Kucinich."
I've always assumed that Kucinich was wearing a rug, but I suppose it is possible to have real hair that looks like that. And as bad as the one-time Boy Mayor of Cleveland's hair is, at least he never set it on fire. Lots of guys with mops like that would go the Paul Simon route and superglue a baseball cap to their heads, but Kucinich has more integrity than that.
I got a spring haircut over the weekend-- it had been a while, and although it was Michael Douglas long and looking okay a month ago when I was on the Left Coast it had become a bother. "Take out the clippers and take it down." I told the stylist, and less than ten minutes later I was shorn. "That's quite a change," she said. "Now people will stop crossing the street when they see you."
Now that I think back on it, I'm pretty sure I over-tipped her.