Sunday, July 6, 2008

It's not easy being a bag of pheromones

Published July 6, 2008
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

The other morning I walked down the stairs to the basement portion of my house and found myself enveloped in the unmistakable scent of “hot guy.” My basement always smells like “hot guy” when my husband is taking a shower.

The scent is hard to describe, but it’s certainly pleasing to this columnist’s olfactories. Taking a powerful whiff of my husband’s body wash bottle, I can say it’s very clean, slightly spicy, extremely manly, and well…the embodiment of “hot guy” in a bottle.

I remember the first time I smelled “hot guy.” And the second. And the third. I smelled it every morning at work for more than two years. The “hot guy” label was placed on the scent by the teenage girls I worked with. They were always on the lookout for the, ahem, Hot Guy who had left his sumptuous mark on the hallway we passed through. The day they realized this mysterious Hot Guy was actually a mature man with grown children and a very clean, slightly spicy, extremely manly body wash was pretty hilarious, if I do say so myself. (And since I just did, I guess I do.)

Fragrances are a funny thing. I wonder…is it a fad like any other? How did people want to smell in ancient times? I mean, was “Tar Pit” the “Obsession” of the cave man days? Did people in Medieval times want to smell like “Moat Goddess” or “Essence of Knight?” I wonder what/who determines which scents are popular and why.

For some, science is involved. According to “the industry” we’re all just big bags of pheromones waiting to be signaled by the other bags of pheromones walking around. The cologne makers of the 70’s decided to cash in on the pheromone phenomenon by including “musk” in men’s cologne, claiming this would stimulate the pheromones of women and make the man who wore it nearly irresistible.

It’s interesting stuff until you realize musk is a secretion of the underside of a musk deer. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I’ve ever found a remote, endangered, wild animal of Siberia at all irresistible. Maybe my pheromones are broken…

According to evolutionary scientists, body odor is actually nature’s most potent agent of attraction. Believe it or not, body odor, particularly that originating from the underarm, is meant to signal a potential mate that one has passed the puberty phase and is now mature enough to bear offspring. Underarm hair is a means of trapping and enhancing the odor for maximum attraction potential and perpetuation of the species. It begs the question: If we eliminate and mask our body odor with fragrances we think are attractive, are we really just shooting ourselves in the evolutionary foot?

I don’t really want an answer to that question. Scientists be darned, I’d much rather smell like mangoes and pomegranates than B.O., no matter how mature the opposite gender might find me otherwise. I know I’m disproving my previous theory about musk here. I mean, is any man more attracted to fruit than I am to wild deer? Actually, I’m sure the answer to this is yes, and my reasoning lies in the “way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” idiom.

If they made a lasagna scented perfume, I’d be wearing it right now.