Men’s deodorant comes in mind-boggling variety: “Wolfthorn”. “Swagger”. “Adventure”. This puts me at a disadvantage, because I’m not really in the market for “adventurous” pits. My main goal is to keep the person sitting next to me on the train from edging away.
Just then a seedy-looking young gent walks up, reaches up for a can of Axe spray, pops the cap and spends a good five seconds hosing down his coat—arms, chest, and back.
In case you’ve never noticed their TV ads, Axe deodorant spray is marketed to young men between 18 and 25 on the premise that any attractive female Earthling within ten yards will insist on mating with them immediately. I am now collateral damage in the War of the Young and Horny--enveloped in a cloud whose aroma suggests the dance floor of the hottest dance club in Paramus, New Jersey. Or a Chippendale’s green room.
The young gentleman gives me a conspiratorial grin. “Smells good, huh,” he says, and puts the can back on the shelf.
My central nervous system is in vapor lock, as if I’ve been hit with a mild dose of nerve gas, so I’m unable to speak. But he’s fine carrying on a conversation without any help. “Yeah man,” he continues, “I’m mad at these people. I tried to return something and they gave me a buncha noise.”
He leans back and eyes me speculatively. “You buyin’ anything? Payin’ cash? Want me to buy it for you?”
My Axe-addled brain’s unable to sort out exactly what kind of scam he’s running, but I manage to find enough oxygen to say “No”—the only sensible answer—and he harrumphs and walks away.
As he exits stage left a young store employee comes over. “Pretty stinky stuff, huh? You know which one he was using?
I point to a can of “Anarchy” with the back facing out and she takes it off the shelf. “Yeah, he’s in here all the time, she says. "He’ll buy something with manufacturer’s coupons, bring it back an hour later and try to return it for cash.”
As she saunters off I get to thinking: Now that I have my own Axe force field maybe I should go find an attractive young female Earthling who’ll insist on mating with me immediately.
But I end up going home, eating a bowl of lentil soup and catching a Law and Order rerun.
Charles Coe is author of two books of poetry: “All Sins Forgiven: Poems for my Parents” and “Picnic on the Moon,” both published by Leapfrog Press. His poetry has appeared in a number of literary reviews and anthologies, including Poesis, The Mom Egg, Solstice Literary Review, and Urban Nature. His novella, "Spin Cycles," was published in November, 2014 by Gemma Media. He is the winner of a fellowship in poetry from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Charles’s poems have been set by a number of composers, including Beth Denisch, Julia Carey and Robert Moran. A short film based on his poem “Fortress” is currently in production by filmmaker Roberto Mighty. Charles is co-chair of the Boston Chapter of the National Writers Union, a labor union for freelance writers. He was selected by the Associates of the Boston Public Library as a “Boston Literary Light for 2014.” He is currently an artist fellow at the St. Botolph Club of Boston.