Products That Saved Me During My Terrible Teens

BRYLCREEM GAVE ME THE SHARP, SLICK, AND SMOOTH I WANTED AS A TEENAGER.
BRYLCREEM GAVE ME THE SHARP, SLICK, AND SMOOTH I WANTED AS A TEENAGER.
A TEENAGE GUY CANNOT GO OUT IN PUBLIC WITHOUT FIRST APPLYING A GOOD DOSE OF RIGHT GUARD.
A TEENAGE GUY CANNOT GO OUT IN PUBLIC WITHOUT FIRST APPLYING A GOOD DOSE OF RIGHT GUARD.
MY HAIR (I HAD SOME IN THOSE DAYS), WAS KEPT FAST IN PLACE WITH GOOD OLD VITALIS HAIR OIL.
MY HAIR (I HAD SOME IN THOSE DAYS), WAS KEPT FAST IN PLACE WITH GOOD OLD VITALIS HAIR OIL.
ACNE IS THE NUMBER ONE PROBLEM WITH TEENS, SO I WOULD STOCK UP ON MY OLD RELIABLE, CLEARASIL.
ACNE IS THE NUMBER ONE PROBLEM WITH TEENS, SO I WOULD STOCK UP ON MY OLD RELIABLE, CLEARASIL.
ICE BLUE AQUA VELVA MADE ME SMELL LIKE A MAN OF THE WORLD WHEN I FIRST LEARNED HOW TO SHAVE.
ICE BLUE AQUA VELVA MADE ME SMELL LIKE A MAN OF THE WORLD WHEN I FIRST LEARNED HOW TO SHAVE.
IT'S SERIOIUS BUSINESS MEETING GIRLS, SO WHEN I KNEW THAT THERE WAS A REMOTE CHANCE TO MEET A GIRL SOMEWHERE, OUT CAME MY OLD FRIEND, HAI KARATE. GIRLS LOVED THE SCENT.
IT'S SERIOIUS BUSINESS MEETING GIRLS, SO WHEN I KNEW THAT THERE WAS A REMOTE CHANCE TO MEET A GIRL SOMEWHERE, OUT CAME MY OLD FRIEND, HAI KARATE. GIRLS LOVED THE SCENT.
THE OLDER I BECAME, I RELIED ON A MORE-CHARMING COLOGNE: BRUT COLOGNE FOR ME, WELL, AN 17-YEAR-OLD, BUT IT WORKED GREAT.
THE OLDER I BECAME, I RELIED ON A MORE-CHARMING COLOGNE: BRUT COLOGNE FOR ME, WELL, AN 17-YEAR-OLD, BUT IT WORKED GREAT.
THIS IS NOT AN ALCOHOLIC DRINK, BUT A CONTAINER OF BOLD COLOGNE MADE FROM THE LEGENDARY JAMES BOND MOVIES. HOW DID ANYONE GET CLOSE ENOUGH TO BOND TO SMELL HIM?
THIS IS NOT AN ALCOHOLIC DRINK, BUT A CONTAINER OF BOLD COLOGNE MADE FROM THE LEGENDARY JAMES BOND MOVIES. HOW DID ANYONE GET CLOSE ENOUGH TO BOND TO SMELL HIM?

I Had To Confess Sooner Or Later . . .

It Saddens Me To Tell You That . . .

I am not what you call a hunk, beef cake, a rugged guy or even a good-looing guy. Don't take my word for it, check my profile and you will agree. It was rough for me during my teenage years. Rough as a corncob. Let me say this before I go any further. I used the term 'corncob,' for all of my readers who are from the southern states. I could write an entire story about corncobs, but that can wait. I need to face up to the subject I am talking about now, "How These Products Help Me To Survive The Terrible Teen Years."

Where to start? I would venture to give you an educated guess that my warfare as a teenage guy started around 1965, somewhere in this timeframe, when I couldn't help but notice that my body was changing. I was nervous, especially around girls. I sweated like a water fountain. I would come home from school with my shirt wet and mama would ask, "Kenny? Did you fall in the water? Again?" That mama of mine. What a sharp sense of humor. She knew why I was sweating, but was going to let my dad, a worldly-man in his younger years, explain the complex term, 'puberty,' to me. Honestly, you might as well be telling me, a fifth-grader the innermost workings of atomic fusion. I was lost. Without a compass.

One Day, 'The Talk' Was Given To Me . . .

and it wasn't much of a talk. My dad, lit a Winston filtered cigarette, scuffed his feet on the gravel in our driveway, let out his puff that he had inhaled, and said, "Son, uh, you may not have noticed, but you are getting bigger. That means, uh, well, other things about your body will soon change too. Know what I am getting at? (I would have given me five bucks for the look on my face right about now), Kenny, you see, nature will start changing you from a boy, to well, a man one day soon and you will need to take care of yourself, how you look, your hygiene, and I don't want you giving off a bad scent when you sweat. Okay?" Dad explained while patting me on the back hoping that I didn't have any questions. I didn't. I really didn't understand most of his talk, but thanks for a few of my older pals in school, they 'filled in the gaps' of things I didn't understand and I was again right with the world.

My Dady Was Absolutely Right . . .

for I began to notice when I sweated a lot--in the hallways at school, on the playground, having to stand in front of the class to recite some outdated poem and even riding my school bus, I noticed that the disgusting aroma I had been smelling, was me. The aroma was a mixture of bleach, ammonia, sulphur and turpentine. Awful on the nostrils. No wonder my friends suddenly had to go 'take care of something' they would quickly say as they ran from me. And some dogs ran from me as well. Go figure. I wasn't a nature expert. How was I supposed to know these things?

So Began The "Seven Year War" With B.O., Hairstyling, Shaving . . .

and friends, I can tell you, those following seven years were just that. War! It was like a battle that never ended. I would get up, do my best to make myself as near to presentable as humanly-possible, go to school, still more warfare during the day. And even back at home after school, I would be constantly reminded by mother and dad to "always smell and look your best, Kenny. Don't want folks to think that you sleep with puppies at night," mama would laugh and say as she passed out the plates for suppertime. I would suddenly start sweating. At the dining table and have to leave to wash my face with cold water. Puberty was not kind to me.

The First Thing I Learned To Do Besides Shave . . .

was do like my dad and splash on some great-smelling after shave. Dad's after shave of choice: Ice Blue Aqua Velva, that according to their alluring television ads with the always-pretty lady rubbing a man's slick face, saying, "Aqua Velva makes a man smell like a man," that was good enough for me. But how else is a man supposed to smell? Like a woman? Forget that. I wasn't popular in grade-school to begin with, so by using a woman's perfume would mean certain doom for me. Did you think that I was ignorant?

The first few times I shaved, my face was red-hot for not having a razor blade put to it. Daddy always said the quicker you splash on the Aqua Velva that the quicker the burning will stop. What? I did that. And my face burned even more. What kind of sick joke was my beloved dad playing on me, a struggling fifth-grader with little or no self-esteem? But in a few more tries, I was shaving with less cuts and learning to grit my teeth as the Aqua Velva hit my tender skin. Yes, the road to manhood started off a bit rocky, but now it was smoothing out rather nicely.

Next Came The B.O. Problem And How It Was Solved . . .

and with little or no experience, my dad came to our bathroom where I was getting ready for school, and asked, well, ordered, "Kenny, raise your arms!" I laughed to myself without him hearing me. I felt like I was in a hold-up. I paid for that chuckle when dad sprayed my underarms with athlete-approved, Right Guard deodorant for men. And in my case, a trembling fifth-grader whose underarms burned as bad as my face with the Ice Blue Aqua Velva. "There, " dad explained. "Now you won't smell like a wet burlap bag today. Just spray some, not much, of this stuff under your arms every morning and you'll be set for the day." he stated--pleased at the progress I was making in the personal hygiene department.

Changes Mean People Notice You . . .

and they did. Notice me on the school bus with noses turned up, eyebrows raised and some smart alec's doing some fake coughs at the way I smelled. I just had to grin and bear it. I had no choice. I couldn't beg the bus driver to let me off the bus long enough to roll in the mud on the roadside to kill the aroma of Ice Blue Aqua Velva and athlete-approved Right Guard. But it wasn't long before the same smart alec guys, who did smell rough themselves, were using deodorant and after-shave lotion. Guess jealousy made them realize that I was growing up.

With Age Comes Bigger Foes . . .

Time went by. I graduated from fifth grade to the sixth with no 'sweat,' (no pun intended), and now I was shaving, using Aqua Velva, Right Guard and when I thought I had conquered the "War Of Personal Hygiene," then came the topic of my hair, which prior to 1965, I had worn in a crew-cut. Short. Cool. But not anymore. My buddies were all into longer hair and I wasn't to be an outcast, so I began letting my hair grow. One day my dad noticed how my hair reminded him of a haystack and remarked (while taking me to the bathroom for more manly-appearance talks), "Kenny, we need to fix that hair. Looks like a haystack," was his very words. I wasn't one to complain. He had been right on the Aqua Velva and Right Guard, so now, he whips out from he white medicine cabinet, a bottle of something called, Vitalis Hair Oil for Men. "Take a little of this in your hand, rub it in your hair, and comb it. And part your hair on the left like a man should," dad explained while a look of fatherly-pride surfaced on his face.

So from the next morning on, I did the morning ritual, slap on some Aqua Velva, (I had shaved the night before to save time), spray with Right Guard and now for the Vitalis Hair Oil for Men. Yeah, I was ready to take on my grade-school. The Vitalis felt so good in my palm I thought that maybe a few handfuls wouldn't hurt. It did. A lot. One fatal day I went to school with hair oil trickling down my neck and back. Now if you haven't had the displeasure of having hair oil trickle down your neck and back, you are not in for a treat, but for being laughed at. The back of my shirt was sticking to my back. Friends pointed. Laughed at me and even gave me a new nickname, "Greasy,' but I learned. Not but a small amount of Vitalis from now on.

That Was Before Daddy Was Impressed By A Brylcreem Ad on TV . . .

you guessed it. No more Vitalis Hair Oil for Men, but now, Brylcreem, "a little dab will do ya," that one. My dad was easily-swayed by television ads. He bought a tube of Brylcreem and sold me on the idea that it was 'easier to use,' as he said. And he was right. I started using Brylcreem along with the Aqua Velva and Right Guard, for now I was in the latter-part of sixth-grade and nearing junior high school. Girls were beginning to look really good, if you know what I mean guys.

Just when I was relaxed, sweating less, feeling semi-good about myself and my appearance, something treacherous. Something hideous. Something dreadful raised its ugly head from nowhere and hit me square in the cheeks: Acne! Yes, acne, the "Monster Who Attacked Teendom," and was a force to be reckoned with. Not even Popeye, The Sailor Man, with a case of spinach could stand this menace. Something had to be done. I was losing what confidence I had. And for a teenage guy nearing junior high, that is a bad road to walk.

Clearasil To The Rescue . . .

oh how I was glad to get my first white tube of Clearasil to go with my Aqua Velva, Right Guard, Brylcreem and now Clearasil. All the products that make up a teen guy's 'bag of tricks' to look good. Smell good. And act good while in public. But getting used to the make-up aroma of the Clearasil took some getting used to. Some new smart alec's in junior high would cackle like wild geese as I went by--trying to avoid contact, and say, "Hey, did you steal your sister's make-up?" and I would shift into high-gear to avoid more taunting. Finally. Glory to God! Clearasil invented a No-Scent Formula of acne medicine. I was almost enraptured when my mom handed me my first tube. I was heaven to see my face in the mirror not looking like the moon with huge crater-like holes. I was happy teen. But my plight wasn't over.

The Bare-Essentials For A Teen Guy Are Not Enough . . .

yes, I had the Aqua Velva, Right Guard, Clearasil and even Brylcreem, but now girls were looking so good that I wanted to talk to them. Get to know them. And maybe work up enough courage to ask them for a date which meant meeting them at a home football game for we were not old enough to drive.

Meeting girls meant doing one more thing: Using cologne. And I did. I chose, thanks to my dad's obsession for television ads, the trusted, the cologne that if a guy used it, would have to take up the self-defense art of karate, to 'beat the girls off with a stick' so I started using Hai Karate. Dad was proud of me. Even my buddies were proud of me. We all were growing into young manhood. And with the use of these valuable products, most of us made it. From teenage to adult years without a casualty.

In relation to the Hai Karate for Men, I cheated a little as I grew bolder with the girls and used Brut, yes, Brut Cologne for it just smelled right. The green bottle looked good. I didn't take a bath in it. I just spashed on a little of this potent mixture and let the 'girls fall where they may."

This was not only a personal morning ritual for me and a million other teen guys across the United States, but a Friday, Saturday night ritual and a Sunday afternoon ritual . . .

to look our best. Smell our best. And somehow act our best. When it came to our relationships with the opposite sex.

Seems that the latter, acting our best, trumped the others.

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Comments 27 comments

Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

Wow Kenneth this hub is a blast from the past! Very well done!!! Voted UP/Awesome!!! :)


Sunnie Day 5 years ago

Oh Kenneth..I laughed so hard..this was so good....Brought back memories of our bathroom cabinet growing up..I am a 1960's model so I remember this very well..

Great hub had to share on facebook!

Sunnie


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

THANK YOU, SINCERELY, Sunshine625, that, your comment, made my day. Your comments mean a LOT to me. Today has been gloomy, rainy and well, not a sun-shiny day. No pun intended. But your remark has definitely cheered me up. Bless you.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hi, SunnieDay! WOW! Thank you from the heart! I am glad that I was not alone in my 'teen warfare' to look, smell and act good. Fact is, it is a clear to me as if it were yesterday how this time was in my life. Thanks for the comment and YOUR hubs too.


Arlene V. Poma 5 years ago

Hai Karate! Who could forget Hai Karate??? It was the "in" thing to give any man on his birthday or at Christmas. If you got Hai Karate as a man, you certainly have arrived! You are so amazing, Kenneth! You always entertain me with your writing. Also, I do remember all the products you write about because I was there, too! Vote up and hitting those other keys. Thanks for the humorous trip down Memory Lane.


Sueswan 5 years ago

Hi Kenneth,

I was feeling kind of blah today.

What I needed was a good laugh and thanks to you I got it. :-D

My dad used Brylcreme. He was always hoping for the girl to pop out of the tube.

Voted up, up and away!


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hi, Arlene! Long time,no comment! LOL! THANKS SO MUCH FOR YOUR COMMENT. It made me feel better. I put a lot of work into this one, but it brought back, for me, those awkward times that a man has to overcome to just survive. Thanks so much!


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hello, Sueswan, THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR THE COMMENT. And sorry that you had a blah day. It was rainy and cool all day where I live. Miss the sunshine, but love fall too. I had forgotten all about the girl in the tube! Thanks for the memory. AND THANKS FOR THE COMMENT.


naturalsolutions 5 years ago

Thanks to that product to easily survive your teen days.LOL I forget my problems in reading it;) thanks a lot.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Thanks a LOT, natural! Thanks so much! This made it worth the depression in researching this.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 5 years ago from TEXAS

Girl teens had/have a slightly different survival course during those years. :-) hehe

And different generations have different standards for qualifying. But objectives among the genders and generations have never been all that different!

My mother's criteria for an ideal boy to date was the one with the nicest horse and buggy who could dance the "Skip To M'Lou" the best! Dad's ideal date was Mother! His tactic was to wow her with brilliance, I think! I'm not sure whether he had a good buggy but I'm pretty sure he didn't dance much, if any. Obviously his tactic worked better than those slick guys with the twinkle toes!

But speaking of guys, maybe some folks will remember Burma-Shave advertising signs along the road. The slogans were posted on a series of small red signs with white lettering as people drove along - obviously NOT at today's speed limits. The signs might be on little posts or even tacked to the barbed-wire fences that often ran alongside the roads.

One series I remember:

A peach looks good

With lots of fuzz

But a man's not a peach

And never wuz.

Burma-Shave!


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hi, Nellieanna! Wow! This was great hearing about buggies and "Skip to M'Lou," and Burma Shave. I have read about those signs on the roadside. What an ingenius ad campaign--getting your product to the people. I LOVED your ad slogan above. And oh how the teen of today faces virtually the same demons as we did...being accepted; being cool; being loved; being heard; it goes from one generation to the next. The ones who worry me are the ones who are never heard, accepted, or loved. THESE by-products of eras gone by really worry me. I cannot shake it. I am always in wonder when I see a news story is the one who did the crime was one of the ones I have mentioned. I hope not. Thanks again, dear Nellieanna. Your comments really cheer me up.


thougtforce profile image

thougtforce 5 years ago from Sweden

I love the way you wrote this, with much humor and self distance! I do remember Brylcreeme and Brut from men and boys from my teens too, and Clearasil was popular among both boys and girls. The teenage years can be such a dreadful time and sadly it is the same problems nowadays. I feel so sorry for them because it is a struggle:) Voted up and thanks for a great article!

Tina


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Dear thoughtforce, may I, with your humble permission, just say, "A SINCERE, HEART-FELT THANK YOU, for this warm and uplifting comment." I mean that. I appreiciate my followers and comments. My followers and their input is needed-help for me to become a better person. And writer. Thanks again!!!


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

Nellieanna's reference to Burma Shave reminded me that those signs, back before interstates existed, kept me from getting totally bored on childhood road trips with my parents. (There are still a few out there, btw. One for sure, maybe two, on Route 66 between Davenport and Chandler OK.)

But it just occurred to me these many years later: What exactly WAS Burma Shave? I'm guessing shaving cream. ???


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

JamaGenee...thank YOU so much for this comment. I do appreciate your input in all hubs that I publish. And yes, Burma Shave was a shaving cream. I never got to use this product, just some shaving cream in an off-red can. Thanks for reminding me of a simpler time.


Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

Reading this set me up for the day, with a good chuckle.

I too remember all of those products being a teenager in the sixties. The bathroom cabinet getting fuller and fuller. We ladies had products then that were actually banned within a few years.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hi, Rosemay50, I am so glad that this hub made you happy. That's what they are for. Thanks too for the comment. I needed that. And our bathroom was like a Kmart with its hair oils, shaving creams, etc. Glad my teen years are history.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 5 years ago from TEXAS

Yes, Kenneth - People and our needs haven't changed so much. Just fads and fashions change. Human nature is human nature.

Like you, I also suspect that a lot of the kids who do crimes or even just live what seem to be unfeeling lives are products of those lacks of the emotional nurturing in their own lives. Parents have such a responsibility, making all the difference in the very direction of history, since it's individuals who make it into whatever it is - from the worst to the best. But many parents are insecure and emotionally deprived themselves.

But no law or government policy can change things much if at the individual level, the general & individual outlook is bleak from just those emotional lacks you mention: -- a sense of being accepted, loved, recognized and respected. If any of those are lacking or weak in a person's life, there may be a sort of rip in the person's spirit. And that tends to fester and become serious many times.

It concerns me that all too many young folks seem totally oblivious to others. Who knows how much good could be accomplished by simply each person's being aware of those needs in others. A little milk of human kindness goes a long way and takes so little effort, really.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 5 years ago from TEXAS

Jama - I was curious too. As I now understand it, Burma Shave was a brushless shaving cream. Most shaving products in use had been the bowl of solid soap and shaving brush to stir up a lather, to be used with a straight razor. Safety razors were soon developed. When Burma Shave was first introduced in the 1920s - as a liniment type of product - some of its ingredients were supposed to be from Burma and the Malay Peninsula, hence the name. But it didn't do too well commercially till the product was improved and that ad campaign made it take off like a rocket and sold the public on these new kinds of products.

Believe it or not, I have a younger friend who prefers shaving with a straight-edge razor and the old-fashioned shaving soap and brush! But he also prefers using the old fashioned "fountain pens" which must be filled with ink! Otherwise, he's quite with-it! haha.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Dear Nellieanna . . ."THANK YOU, SINCERELY, for these two, in-depth and very-intelligent remarks. Being accepted, to me, is one of the keys that we need to give people, especially, the young people who are hurting to have friends and have a life. I know that kind of hurt all too well. And your thinking of Burma Shave is correct. I appreciate you telling me this information about a true American icon product. And my dad, rest his soul, had a great and SHARP straight razor that I never got to shave with. He probably knew that I would cut myself. I miss my dad. Thanks for the reminder.


inaniLoquence profile image

inaniLoquence 5 years ago from Singapore

Your journey was absolutely entertaining but it also shows the reality of what most teens are going through during the adolescent years. Great hub again, Kenneth Avery!


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Greetings, inaniLoquence, and a humble heart felt THANKS for your comment. I do my very best to make all of my readers, followers happy. By doing that, I feel like, although small, I am a part of the universe after all. Thanks again.


inaniLoquence profile image

inaniLoquence 5 years ago from Singapore

We are all part of the universe and we have the option of either to leave this world quietly or with a bang. What we're doing, this hubbing, is probably the latter. Your bang is most likely louder than mine since your hubs are really enjoyable (and real) to read. :) Thanks!


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hello, inaniLoquence, I appreciate that comment. But my hubs are minimal compared to YOURS and all the hubs I have read so far. I have read hubs that make my want to crawl in a hole and never hit a keyboard again-they are that good. I strive to give my Maker the thanks and strive also to NOT become self-loving and self-absorbed, two "spiritual diseases," that will get on God's nerves....quick. But thank YOU for your remark. I do appreciate you for that. And YOU are a talented writer, and a deeply-talented writer too.


naturalsolutions 5 years ago

Always keep the good work Ken, make all your hub perfectly like this one. I just drop by to read your hub for the second time.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hello, naturalsolutions,

"Thank YOU so MUCH, for this comment that touched my soul. And what a super-nice remark, 'perfectly like this one,' that is so caring of you to say that. I do not know how to adquately express my sincere thanks to you. Just a God bless you richly and I will not forget you for this, is all I have right now.

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