The View From Planet Kerth: Losing the wet and wild search for a true Original

If you get stuck behind me in an elevator or crowded check-out line, don't blame me for making your eyes water. I didn't choose to smell this way.

It wasn't my idea to change the way the world works. This time, you can thank the good people at Proctor & Gamble for that.

I went to the grocery store to stock up on my usual anti-perspirant—Old Spice Original Scent—but imagine my surprise when I picked one up and noticed that it said "Deodorant" under the name.

Not "Anti-perspirant & Deodorant," as it has for decades.

Just "Deodorant."

I rummaged through the rest of them, but they all carried the same underachieving message. Deodorant. You're on your own when it comes to all that sweat.

There were other fragrances offered under the Old Spice label—ridiculous names like "Matterhorn" and "Fiji"—that all married anti-perspirant and deodorant together. But not my old Original. As if anybody really wants to smell like a mountain climber or Polynesian native.

No, I want to smell sensible, like that guy you've always seen on the commercials—the wool-sweatered sailor striding into port whistling with his duffel bag over his shoulder, turning the head of every smiling girl he strolls past. There's no cleaner smell than the fragrance of a whaler hitting port after months at sea. TV commercials always told us so, and TV doesn't lie.

But Original Old Spice without the anti-perspirant to guarantee that a hard-working sailor will stay dry? That defies logic.

It's not just stubbornness on my part. When it comes to my underarm accessorizing, we're talking about survival here.

For one thing, I am allergic to a multitude of artificial fragrances, from shampoos to shaving creams and insect repellants. There is no telling which ones will set me off until I get a whiff of them, and by then it's too late—I can feel the edges of my tongue tingle as if I had a wad of pennies wedged between my cheek and gum. In extreme cases my throat catches, my nose runs and my eyes squint shut. Sometimes I'm even treated to a welter of hive-welts that have to be treated medically. Don't even ask me about those weeks of torture I endured before my wife admitted to trying out a new fabric softener.

Besides, when it comes to yielding on the issue of choosing exotically scented sweat rather than dry pits, that's not negotiable, either.

I don't know why Mssrs. Proctor & Gamble felt that their Original Scent customers no longer need anti-perspirant mixed in with their deodorant, while Matterhornians and Fuji-ites require the full monty. I'm guessing that we Originals are the older portion of their demographic, while the Matt-Fujis are the pups getting lathered up slam-dancing to whatever passes for music these days.

But if they think that sweat glands turn off once a body reaches retirement age, I've got a surprise for them. I have a few other surprises about what happens to an aging body, but I don't want to list them all here. One shock at a time.

And for now, it's shocking enough that I have to start shopping around for a new way to smell, after all these years of brand-loyal odiferousness.

I know I'm not alone in this, am I? How many of you have had to forego the flavor crystals you once enjoyed in your toothpaste? Or were forced to endure mangos instead of apples in your shampoo? Or suffered through yogurt-coated raisins in your bran flakes, instead of those sweet, natural beauties they once sprinkled in there?

Sometimes it seems as if they're watching you, doesn't it, and they just want to jerk your chain to see if they can push you postal?

It's bad enough that I had to get rid of all my vinyl records and swap them for cassettes years ago. And then dump the cassettes for CD's. And then trash my CD's for some kind of I-doohickey that just sucks the music out of the air. I went along with all of that.

But when they mess with my pits, they've gone too far.

For the record, I picked up the Old Spice Fiji scent and used it after my shower this morning. It's nearly noon now, and I swear there's a penny or two hiding somewhere under my tongue. Every cloying breath is an unpleasant reminder of my loss. Maybe by tonight I'll be able to connect the dots with the hives on my ribs.

Oh, I know, some of you are too young to understand what I'm talking about. You haven't had decades and decades to learn what works best for you, and to forge a brand-alliance that will outlive most marriages.

No, you go out and buy whatever "with it" product you think will make you look cool. You think the girls will flip over you if you smell like a mountain climber or a Polynesian native. And when a sailor-scented old guy gets in a sweat about losing his Original Old Spice, you give him the stink eye.

But just wait, all you with-it hipsters. You'll see.

In the words of Grandpa Simpson, "I used to be with it. But then they changed what 'it' was. Now what I'm with isn't 'it,' and what's 'it' is weird and scary.

"And it'll happen to YOU!"

- - -

The author splits his time between Naples and Chicago. Not every day, though. Contact him at trkerth@yahoo.com. Why wait a whole week for your next visit to Planet Kerth? Get T.R.'s new book, "Revenge of the Sardines," available now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other fine online book distributors. His column will appear every Friday.

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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