What IS It with the Body Spray Already? Smells Like a Lot More than Teen Spirit

Chanel S.Image via Wikipedia

My eyes are tearing up and I’m getting ready to sneeze, a good sign that one of my sweet-smelling daughters has readministered body spray. Again.

“Readminister again” is not a redundant statement; they will later re-readminister. Possibly just as they get into the car or some other enclosed space in which I will be trapped with the vaporous goodness.

Japanese Cherry Blossom? Cherry Almond Vanilla? Something involving cherries, at any rate. Or flowers. It’s hard to tell what specific scent it is when it’s bombarding you at Force 10.

Don’t get me wrong—I love my daughters. Really. I’m pleased that they prefer to be clean and sweet-smelling. They generally leave the house groomed, although we differ on the critical question of whether slippers with semi-hard surfaces on the bottom count as footwear for the big wide world out there.

On the slipper question they vote Yes, I vote No. My vote does not count. The only time they entertained the possibility of reconsidering this point, it was because four feet of snow fell on us in late December and early January and stayed for weeks. They didn’t wait for the spring thaws to go back to the slippers.

They’re not over the top on make-up, thank heavens. Admittedly Eldest Daughter went through a raccoon-eyes phase, applying black eyeliner and extra-black extra-clumping mascara with the enthusiasm of a small child newly introduced to scented markers.

She shared her hard-earned wisdom with Number Two Daughter, who uses a light hand. Both have beautiful eyes in any case.

And they do smell nice. But this comes at a price: the constant reapplication of body sprays purchased approximately every other week at Smelly Body Sprays R Us or some such chain.

When one of them gets ready for school in the main bathroom, we brace ourselves for the moment when the door swings open and the cloud wafts out well in advance of the girl ostensibly wearing the perfume—or being worn by it.

I’m sure I did this at their age. I remember a certain fondness for Love’s Baby Soft that probably announced itself around corners. Today my tastes are a trifle more sophisticated (Coco Mademoiselle by Chanel, which they had better not stop making), and expressed in moderation.

So what do I do, say, “Don’t smell quite so nice”? There’s a reason the words “teen girls body spray” bring up 103,000 results in Google.

A closer look at these results reveals that apparently this isn’t exclusively a girl thing—in fact, it’s a huge problem with boys.

Who knew? Since we have one boy who is 11 and still smells like the outdoors and whatever project he’s been working on involving glue and solvents, if not soldering irons and melting rubber, this has not yet become apparent.

Boys ODing to prevent BOing is such a problem, in fact, that the manufacturers are actually starting to suggest boys should tone it down. This will never move product—I’m amazed at their public-spirited campaigns (which conveniently move the product name up in the Google results....).

For example, this YouTube spot aims at the boy side of the line, using a sex appeal pitch to suggest that subtlety is sexier than a level approaching anesthesia.

This piece talks about the Axe overdose effect similar to what I’m experiencing with Cherry Almond Vanilla Blossom Floral Flower Whatsis.

The Center for Parent/Youth Understanding (such dreamers they must be, the people who could found something with such an aspirational name and so little hope of realizing the goal expressed in the name….Oh wait, it’s a Christian organization; they may have back-up help) write about the problem here.

The Google results, as always, are an entertaining mix of sites telling you about the problem, and sites enabling you to make purchases that will add to the problem.

I won’t even get to the articles where they talk about using body spray as a flame thrower or inhalant. I already know this stuff is both deadly and a substance of abuse--I’m livin’ it. Here it comes now....
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Ways the World Wide Web Allows Me to Procrastinate. Food for Thought, but You Should Do Something Productive Instead of Reading This.

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase

I could take this one step further and make it a Facebook meme, but I do have a life. Somewhere around here. Backed up on a flash drive. If I remembered to back it up. Dang, I really need to back up more often.

How many of these have you done within the last day? Subtract points if your living actually depends on any of these. Add points if you have no product or service you market online.

  1. Logged onto Twitter and read random bits of noise from strangers.
  2. Responded to these random bits with your own witty observation.
  3. Checked and responded on a second (or third or fourth) Twitter account you also manage.
  4. Followed a link someone tweeted.
  5. Retweeted a link (extra points if you changed someone else’s short URL to your own system so you can track clickthroughs).
  6. Searched on Twitter or any related utility to find interesting people to follow.
  7. Updated your Facebook status. (bonus point for doing this several times a day)
  8. Written on someone’s Facebook wall.
  9. Commented on someone’s update.
  10. Commented on someone’s comment on someone else’s update.
  11. Did one of those ubiquitous Facebook lists.
  12. Tagged friends with said ubiquitous list.
  13. Responded to a tag from a friend with another ubiquitous list.
  14. (awarded yourself points in your head for having an excuse to use ubiquitous everywhere.)
  15. Browsed the Facebook “People You May Know” list and sent out friend requests.
  16. Started a blog post.
  17. Finished a blog post.
  18. Actually posted a blog post.
  19. Commented on someone else’s blog.
  20. Tweeted a link to your blog.
  21. Tweeted a link to someone else’s blog.
  22. Clicked “Mark All As Read” in Google Reader because you have several hundred unread blog posts waiting for you.
  23. Read something in Google Reader, then clicked on it to read it at the original site, then followed links to other posts, then forgotten where you were and closed the tab without remembering to back up to the post you really, really wanted to tweet about, so now you have to go back to Google Reader and find it again.
  24. Favorited, shared, stumbled upon, or whatever-ed anything, anywhere.
  25. Checked your work email junk folder.
  26. Reviewed and deleted email messages because your IT system sent you one of those annoying messages about how much mail you have stored on the server.
  27. Checked your personal email spam folder.
  28. Spent time on Facebook or Twitter to avoid looking at your personal email account because of the backlog.
  29. Responded to someone’s whitelisting email so your email account can get through to that email account. So you can get more email. Think about this.

Okay, now that you’ve spent time on this, admit it: You’re going to turn it into a blog post, post it on Facebook, tweet about it, or email a link to a friend.

What color are your kids’ eyes again?

And admit it—it’s bothering you that this list has an odd number of items, because you now think everything in a list should have 5, 7, 10, 20, 50, or 100 entries.

Admit a little bit more--you're waiting for some kind of rankings based on accumulated points, or instructions for what you're supposed to do with your point total. You might just reflect on it. And check your kids' eyes.

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Becoming a Woman, and Boys Boys Boys: More Time with Younger Daughter

Tattoo contestImage by Melvin Schlubman via Flickr
Picking up where we left off in our mother/daughter interview. Scene: Coffee shop. Rainy day. Nosy Mother and Younger Daughter stare into each other’s eyes, gauging questions and the risk of answering honestly. Nosy Mother asks, smart-aleck Younger Daughter answers.

What kind of woman do you want to be?

The kind without a penis.

That’s a given. Moving on from that—

Young Daughter giggles, then is momentarily distracted when she notices that she left a handmark on the window like that scene in Titanic.

The kind who goes shopping fairly regularly, with the money to do so—not credit cards. I don’t want credit cards. I know it might come in handy, but I don’t want one.

Happy, hopefully. Most of the time. Not like overly happy, but close enough. Um… I’d like to have a career where I can support myself and possibly children with the essentials on my own without anybody else like if they died, divorce, anything like that.

When it’s your turn, what are some of the questions you’ll ask me?

Well, you’re gonna have to wait and see, aren’t you? See, that was a question—get it? Ha ha.

I hesitate because the inteview seems to be winding down and I'm wondering where to take it.

That’s it? You didn’t ask me about boys.

What about boys?

I don’t know, what about ‘em?

What do you wish you had known before now, or what do you hope you’ll learn before it’s too late?
You mean before I go crazy and kill one of them?

Yes, preferably.

Furrowed brow.

Too many questions.

I suggest she stick with the before now question.

I don’t have that many problems. No, wait, that’s a lie. Um…. I guess, just, to know for sure how you feel about somebody before you get into a relationship.

Moving on to what she’d like to learn before it’s too late.

If I knew what I wanted to learn, then I would have already learned it, wouldn’t I? Or at least be part of the way there.

I guess I’d want to know myself better before I got into a really serious relationship with somebody. Have a little bit more confidence too—inward, not outside. My friends have told me that when we’re in public I seem really confident and everything, but then they know me. (With a lisp): Confidenth ith thexthy.

What should I be asking you about boys?

What type.

What type?

We hit pay dirt. To aid in readability this section is shown in separate paragraphs, but it’s best read in one long gulp without coming up for air in order to achieve something like the original experience. Good thing I type at over 100 wpm.

I don’t know why, but dark hair. Not that I don’t think guys with light hair are attractive but…. Like dark brown or black. It’s pretty. Attractive. I know that supposedly that’s less important to women than it is to men, but it’s still fairly important at my age, I’d say. I enjoy the attractiveness.

Some level of, of, of—like comfort, Oh, I do like them tall. Whether that’s physically because they’re like bigger and taller—I don’t like them smaller than me (shudders). I just don’t. Or just an air about them that’s kind of comforting. I’ve noticed that I always, like, no matter who the guy is if he—hmm—if he keeps kind of capturing my interest when we’re dating, there tends to be some side of danger to him. Never a biker or something, but like—should I change names?—skip that one—there was—after that….

She gazes off into the distance, rummaging through some mental filing cabinet, while I worry about the omissions.

We’ll just say Jesse. Jesse—kind of a—not a great student. He was in Odyssey (the gifted program she was in). He’s taking online classes now. Also now he does a lot of pot. So I’m glad I got out of that. But he didn’t back then. OK.

Or there’s Devin—he was a jerk around his friends but he was nice when you were just with him, so I guess that part of him that was a jerk, that was the danger aspect. I don’t like that, but--three days, I think that one was.

OK, so then more recently I’ll start with Matt. I don’t know what the danger was there, which may have been the reason that it ended because I lost interest, but he’s a really nice guy, which is kind of sad, because, well, he’s a nice guy…. I don’t know. I think Hannah liked him. I don’t think there was danger, so that might have been why.

Nyc? N-Y-C.

Chuckle, clarification that NYC is a spelling and not an offhand reference to New York City.

Scene kid, piercings, but nice guy, very hyper which I appreciated because he could keep up with me but then he didn’t pay that much attention to me. And then I found out—we were hanging out with a big group and we went to this kiddie park and there was this big No Smoking sign and I was joking and said “No smoking, Nyyyyc,” and he said that he didn’t smoke – cigarettes –and it turned out he did smoke occasionally and he smoked pot sometimes and he hadn’t told me that and I was pretty sure it was obvious that that was important to me. That was my birthday. My birthday parties are cursed. That was a bad night. He never came—to the party.

She shoots a sidelong look to see if I caught the double entendre.

Next morning I think he actually had his friend, who was his ex-girlfriend and then they dated again and then they broke up again and her heart was broken—he like told me through her that he didn’t want to date because I was overbearing because of the pot even though I hadn’t said that much. I told him he could either stop smoking pot or date me but not both which was like too much for him. Too controlling.

Most recently there was Eric. He was a junior so he was older. He was a nice guy. So it was good because I had the thing of danger because he was older but he was still nice. It wasn’t really danger but it was something extra, you know?

Like having a motorcycle. One time, I crashed a motorcycle into a fence. With me on it.

That must have been at your dad’s.

At Aunt Jeanne’s. It was a small motorcycle, not like a big one.

They have to be able to talk a lot. Sometimes it turns out that’s a problem because they don’t have as much to say as I do because they’re a guy. Ooh, she has my shoes! (Noticing the black, shiny flats on the barista)

This is by far the longest answer.

I told you you should have been asking me about guys.

A future post will feature an interview with 18-year-old Oldest Daughter, who is just as quick-witted and has four more years of experience in seeing if she can get to me, choosing what she will and won't tell me, and generally excelling at verbal fencing.