Products That Saved Me During My Terrible Teens
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I sweated a lot--in the hallways at school, on the playground, having to stand in front of the class to recite some outdated poem and even riding my school bus, I noticed that the disgusting aroma I had been smelling, was me.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.