Jem Beedoo

Jem Beedoo is an Auckland writer

Jem Beedoo: An issue not to be sniffed at sets social traps for blokes

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Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

Body odour is a social institution and we've been taught from a young age that it needs close and careful monitoring. And a man is a lot more worried than you think about carrying it about with him. She's a hard road, finding the perfect deodorant, boy.

Sometimes, in cheekily wearing yesterday's shirt, even after the application of initial-morning deodorant, the bad BO hits around early afternoon.

There is tacit agreement in the room that some man smells - and it's probably you. A man knows this and feels the sting of self-consciousness, shutting down his two underarm garages for the rest of the day to limit the stench.

This can only go so far, as everyone knows it's you. You've blundered in the eyes of the perfectionistic West again.

But to fold one's arms is the only mitigating factor available to a man, as adding deodorant will only exacerbate the slimy smell.

Moreover, a mid-afternoon shower to a man, in the heat and the hum of summer, is a humiliating experience, so that option is off-limits. I don't know for sure why. Anyway, the damage has been done.

After a fast walk or a spot of sport in the heat, a man is going to smell bad, unless of course he undergoes the foul mid-afternoon shower, applies his underarm armour and changes his shirt.

And no amount of initial-morning deodorant can deter this. In fact, it's at moments like this, one wonders if deodorant is effective at all, given the ghastly smell it cooks up in conjunction with perspiration. Yes, it makes the already-present perspiration even more putrid, believe it or not, ladies. Heck, BO and deodorant as terms half rhyme, leaving one suspicious of a conspiracy between the two parties.

Sometimes one just plain smells, unavoidably, whether or not one takes a hard walk or wears yesterday's shirt. On such an unlucky day, a man can apply his deodorant, and do all he can to keep the stench in check, even going so far as to hair-dry his armpits during his initial morning routine.

Yet once one's pores pour out their pest-like perspiration, and the sweat clings parasitically to one's sleeves, we all know it's over. And how humiliating it is! We can blame a room's poor ventilation, or the angle of the sweaty sun all we like, but when we look in our hearts, we blame ourselves. Poor guys.

And when someone tells you "you smell", it's not exactly what I'd call an ideal start to the day.

Even when your timing is good, oftentimes, the deodorant smells unpleasant to begin with, or it stings, or it runs out when you needed it most, halfway through the application process, or it simply doesn't conceal what my aunt disdainfully calls the smell of "boy", because it doesn't have the power to.

It's a wonder that, when we were boys, we were in an urgent hurry to get armpit hair when, as men, all it seems to cause us is grief.

- NZ Herald

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