Old Spice Is New Again: Deodorants

My son walked into the room, and I nearly passed out. The aroma from his Speed Stick deodorant was overpowering ($2.99 for 3.25 ounces at Walgreens). I’d prefer body odor to that heavy, cheap-cologne smell.

“I’m wearing deodorant,” he protested. “It’s the regular scent.”

“There’s nothing regular about that,” I countered.

Something had to be done about the odor, but I didn’t want to go broke trying every variety of deodorant in the store aisle. So, I called around for some proven winners.

“Why, do you think I smell?” my father answered when I asked what deodorant he uses. “I don’t use deodorant. I just wash with Kirkman’s Brown Soap and wear a clean T-shirt.” The man always has an alternative solution for bodily needs. But where do you buy Kirkman’s soap? I think Dad’s been working his way through his stockpile of soaps from the ’40s.

“Old guys,” said husband Patrick as he shook his head in mock disgust. “My dad doesn’t wear deodorant either. ‘All you need is baking soda and a T-shirt washed with bleach.’ Dad associates the deodorant smell with B.O. itself.”

The octogenarians were no help. On to our 30-something friends.

“You will be pleased to know that I use Tom’s of Maine Lavender Deodorant [$4.24 for 2.25 ounces at Target],” answered college friend Frank. “No dementia, and not too much scent. But then, I’m French....” Patrick is also a fan of Tom’s but complained that it’s expensive and doesn’t hold up well under sporting conditions.

Frank knows all too well about overpowering deodorant scents. “My wife bought me a bunch of Speed Stick Alpine Scent antiperspirant once. I couldn’t bear to be in the same room with myself. If I were ever in an alpine setting and smelled something like that, I’d start watching out for a ripe carcass. Years later, she gave it to my newly stinky teenage son. I tried to object, but she explained that he’d never get into any complicated situations with girls. I had to agree — no girl would go near anything that smelled like that.”

“I used to wear Gillette Gel Antiperspirant [$4.24 for 4 ounces at Target],” said our pal Jack. “It doesn’t leave the white-powder residue, but when I came home from work my wife would notice my pits. It would only work for about half a day. Now I use Dove Ultimate Go Fresh, and it keeps me dry [$12.99 for a five-pack of 2.6 ounces at Costco].”

“My husband and I both wear Degree Ultra Clear [$3.49 for 2.6 ounces at Target],” answered our friend Margaret. “That stuff lives up to its hype. My husband can play poker into the wee hours of the morning and still come home smelling fresh. And poker makes him nervous. The tube has a little-black-dress picture on it — it claims not to leave any residue on clothing.”

I was surprised to find that Old Spice deodorants enjoy quite a following among our friends. When I think Old Spice, I picture cheesy commercials, and I can smell the aftershave that my father would put on for church on Sunday.

“Times have changed,” said my sister Meg. “This is not our father’s Old Spice. There are shelves lined with all kinds of Old Spice antiperspirants and deodorants with names such as Swagger, Fiji, Cyprus, and Matterhorn. Can you imagine Dad wearing Old Spice Aqua Reef [$3.99 for 2.6 ounces at Walgreens]? That’s my son’s favorite.”

The other favorite Old Spice in Meg’s house is Fresh Collection Denali ($3.97 for 2.6 ounces at Walmart). “My son is all things Alaska, at the moment, so he likes smelling of the wilderness,” laughed Meg.

“But beware,” exclaimed her daughter Madeline. “Right Guard does not guard!” Spoken like a teenage girl living in a house with teenage brothers.

“I wear Old Spice High Endurance Pure Sport [$2.19 for 3 ounces at Target],” offered brother-in-law Leon. “The ladies love it.”

“My husband likes any Old Spice I bring home,” agreed friend Cathy. “He hasn’t found a type he doesn’t like.”

“I’m an Old Spice man,” touted brother Mike. “And who doesn’t love their commercials? ‘Hello, ladies. Does your man look like me? No. Could he smell like me? Yes.’”

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The Vermont Country Store might be a source for Kirkman's Borax Soap. They specialize in hard-to-find items.

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