This friend of mine (not me) was out of deodorant. Little wavy lines of stinkbad radiated from his smelter zones. People moved away from him when he entered the room—much further and even faster than usual.
Irresponsible news reports described it as a stampede. Yes, there were injuries, although most of them minor. For a sophisticated raconteur like himself, clearing a room was a social cue hard to ignore–especially when the cleared room was a basketball arena.
And so, a month later, just before he took his bi-centennial shower, my friend went to buy a new can of deodorant. Shockingly, the store didn’t carry deodorant. Nor did five other stores he tried.
Sure, they had products in a spray can that looked like deodorant. But instead of manly names like “The Decontaminator” or “Pit Stop,” they called themselves “Daily Fragrance.”
That’s right. The corporate big whiffs in the odor-eating industry changed the dang terminology without consulting anyone old enough to still use the word dang or who knows that prostate and prostrate are separate words that are neither spelled, pronounced nor defined the same way.
Back in the day, if someone said you smelled a little fragrant, that meant you took a bar of Fels Naptha to the nearest car wash and, without the car, got the twenty mule team Boraxo scrub-a-dub—including 15 minutes with the hydro cannon trained on the old Tropicana.
And here’s a little known fact: The French Revolution was not caused by the downtrodden seeking liberty, equality and fraternity. Rather, it was a rising of the nose-trodden who were literally sick of breathing in the reek of King Louie’s daily fragrance. Not to mention his dandy nobles, dipped daily in vats of royal effing effluvium. Speaking of pit stops, when the wind was right you could smell Louie as far away as Daytona Beach.
I mean (I mean, my friend means) for years the term deodorant–which derives from three Latin roots—provided the perfect foundation for describing personal bouquet removal.
Deodorant’s first syllable, deo, (say DAY-oh) is Latin for “God,” but it has a secondary meaning. “A one-word song, shouted loudly over the public address system during baseball games as a hi-ho to God who, theoretically, will be so pleased that people are praying to him while drinking beer and eating nachos that he will engineer a major rally for the home team.”
The second syllable of deodorant, dor, ironically, is Latin for “window.” The third syllable, ant, means “little black insect,” but also “the sister of your mother or father, the one with six husbands and the pew of a pachyderm.”
The combination of deo- dor- and ant roughly translate to “Oh my god, Aunt Tilda is in the building. Open a window.”
Another theory is that upon smelling a rotting walrus one day in the back of his man cave, the young, upwardly mobile cave professional, Glebe, shouted “Ant no doubt about it: godda invent me a window and chisel it open. First, though, I better invent the chisel.”
My friend (not me) remembers the day his mother (not my mother) told him to be sure to apply deodorant every day “Because you don’t want to offend.”
She never did explain who would be offended and by what, but eventually he caught on–helped along the way by the anthem of Right Guard, an unashamed, old-fashioned deodorant (aka: instant shower) and one-time king of personal fumigation:
Two seconds, round the clock*
Two seconds, tick tock
Give you 24-hour protection
But, alas, no more. And that stinks.
*Not to quibble, but at two seconds for each pit, that brings it to four seconds round the clock. Tick tock. Just sayin’.
©Patrick A. McGuire and A Hint of Light 2013-2015, all rights reserved.