Man Grooming as Nature Intended

Despite being a lifelong suburbanite, my wife has a few granola-crunchy tendencies. Her uncle isn’t quite aware the 1960s ever ended and splits his time between espousing the benefits of a government-based economy and deriding said government for controlling our minds through chemtrails or flouride or blah, blah, blah, because by this time I’m on my seventh glass of wine at Thanksgiving dinner (Thank you, 2020!). He also thinks cats are spying on us and reporting back to aliens keeping tabs on us. And I’m dead serious on that last one.

Wife doesn’t go that far. She’s way too consumerist. But for somebody who thinks camping is an abomination, you can certainly grab her attention by calling your product all-natural or organic or hormone free. So if you want her to buy your bacon, you might put on the packaging that it comes from pigs not treated with vaginal testosterone.  Even though there’s no such thing, so technically every pig in existence. But if you wanna get sold at Whole Foods, you gotta say every madeup bullshit thing isn’t in it.

I’m looking in your direction, rBST.

Occasionally, Wife gets stuck on conference calls at work and orders me some all-natural self-grooming shit. It’ll show up on our doorstep one day and she’ll kinda, sorta remember seeing something, like a Vietnam Vet trying to recall the fogs of war. Amazon told her that people who ordered Tom’s Toothpaste might also like toilet paper with the consistency of poison oak. 

But whatever. As long as she isn’t going paleo or anything, I guess I can splash some essential oils on my nether regions. It turns out I actually like some of them. Others are nothing more than snake oil.

So here are my reviews of products you might be pondering at the next Ren Faire.

Dr. Squatch Soap. 

Of the three products she bought me, this is the only one I’d heard of beforehand. It would seem to be a product custom made for me. Its name alludes to Bigfoot and they cuss in the commercials that my robot overlords at Google and Facebook show me. 

Maybe you’ve seen the ads. They tell guys that the soap you’ve been washing with is bullshit. Okay, you’ve got my attention. The commercials also imply that our junk, which smells horrific, yet is dainty, ain’t never gonna be cleaned by some industrial soap that’s half comprised of something pussy like, I don’t know, lotion or aloe or smurf handjobs.

Personally, my soap of choice is Irish Spring. The dude in the Dr. Squatch commercial calls it mass-produced and docile and bovine excrementy. But I’m assured by its mid-1980s advertisements that Irish Spring is made beside a bucolic river outside of Kilkenny, and if I use it, I’ll be whistled at by the comely lass also seen dancing in that Men Without Hats music video. 

“Manly, yes, but I like it, too!”

But Dr. Squatch Dude has a well-groomed beard, ergo I must pay attention. And they sell such manly flavors of soap, like Grapefruit IPA and Pine Tar and… Aloe. I guess ya can’t make a rub-over-skin product without the base aloe model. 

Come to think of it, pine tar? Isn’t that the stuff they put on baseball bats to make them sticky? I don’t know if I want that on my giblets. Is the ghost of Billy Martin going to come measure my cock to make sure I didn’t add too much pine tar? The last thing I need is a scruffy looking, powder-blue wearing George Brett screaming out of the dugout like a whirling dervish.

The first one I tried was the aloe bar. Baby steps, people. I’ve been trained by years of consumer culture and if it ain’t green, it shouldn’t even call itself soap. The Dr. Squatch was fine, I guess. Nothing really to write home about. Other than its clunky square shape, the clarion call of all “natural” products, it pretty much felt like soap. It didn’t quite get the lather up that I like. Wouldn’t want to shave with it, that’s for sure. 

That square shape also makes it hard to get into some of my nooks and crannies. In fact, it feels a little like being bludgeoned. I didn’t know I was supposed to be in pain while showering. And that was before I tried their second “flavor,” Chinese Water Torture.

No, it’s not named Chinese Water Torture soap, but it might as well be. It’s called Cold Brew Coffee soap. Should be perfect for me. I already smell like coffee all day. Or at least until 2:00, after which I smell like a distillery. 

What’s that? Dr. Squatch has a rum soap, too? Maybe I’ll have to investigate. 

Or I can just have some rum. Because if the rum is anything like the cold brew, I’ll pass. 

Sure, the coffee bar smelled nice, even if I had to adjust to the unnatural brownness of it. 

The problem came in its consistency. I’m not sure if Bigfoot’s ever had coffee, but when I get an iced coffee from Starbucks, I don’t have to take the coffee grounds out of my mouth. At home, I occasionally have a filter catastrophe that results in a crunchy cup o’ joe, but that’s not supposed to be the norm. And I know the hipster in the commercials doesn’t brew his own.

The coffee soap, however, is inundated with scratchy coffee grounds. And not the Folgers or Maxwell House ground coffee variety. More like whole beans thrown for ten seconds into a hand grinder cranked by an arthritic octogenarian. 

The first time I used it, I thought maybe it was just an outer layer authenticity thing that would go away as I used it. I once splurged on an Irish Spring “Sport” bar that had little bubble things on the bottom, but they only lasted a couple of washes. Surely, once I got past the outer layer of this cold brew, it would work like normal soap. Or like fancy, all-natural, doesn’t-really-wash-you soap.

But no! That shit stayed through the whole bar. I get the whole “exfoliating” concept, but this wasn’t some John Cougar “Hurt So Good.” It was just straight-up jagged-ass scratching. I suppose I could’ve used a wash cloth, but c’mon, Bigfoot. Your commercials talk about being a manly-man and now you want me to use a wash cloth?

Eventually, I found that it worked best if I lathered up in my hand, then went to the body. 

That felt more like a little bit of gritty exfoliating, similar to the little grains inside some of those soft soaps. Speaking of which, did you know that Bath & Body Works has “manly man” soaps, too? They’re usually hidden amongst the cinnamons and lilacs and Lakeside Estrogens. You can usually tell which ones they are because they’re blue. My favorite also had a fox wearing a blue sweater on the front and had a smell named “musk.” That’s the manly triumvirate right there.

But the blocky coffee soap wasn’t the same as a granulated soft soap. Like its aloe brethren, the cold brew block couldn’t lather worth a shit. So lots and lots and of scrubbing the hands meant the bar didn’t last longer than a week or so. At seven bucks a pop, I feel like the soap should last, I don’t know, a year or so. It’s kinda like paying for a single beer at the ballgame that costs more than a 12-pack of that same beer at home.

And for seven bucks, you get the added benefit of doing a twice over before exiting the shower to make sure you don’t look like a damned leper when you step out. The soap’s supposed to clean me, not leave me looking like I missed the trash can when dumping the coffee filter. Took me so long to shower, I was late to work. Good thing we live in a patriarchy and I can just ask for a raise to make up for the time lost.

Ha ha, just kidding. I’m a teacher. We don’t get raises.

Still, maybe I should stick with the rum bar. Although maybe not on the day I ask my principal for a raise.

Somerset English Shaving Oil.

What the hell is an essential oil anyway? Are there non-essential oils? Do the essential oils tease them? Like the Catholics who say Protestants go to Purgatory, which they think is heaven, but isn’t really heaven. I assume the Catholics spend all of eternity mocking those Protestants in their fake heaven. Something to look forward to.

Although if this is English shaving oil, it probably isn’t Catholic. They leave that for the Irish Spring next door.

Come to think of it, I don’t know if English is really the operative adjective for olde tyme rituals. Sure, compared to us young pups in America, England’s been around forever. But if I really want to be shaving like I’m some grizzly middle ager, how about some Saxon Shaving Oil. Or Mercian. Although that’s too close to ‘Merican. And we all know ‘Merican shaving oil would be buffalo chicken sauce with ranch.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Or behind myself. Where the fuck was I? Oh right, shaving.

I’m fortunate enough to not have much facial hair. It takes me a month to go from clean-shaven to something approximating a goatee or beard. 

It’s the perfect amount of hair growth, because I don’t have to shave every day. If I shave Monday and Wednesday mornings, nobody will be any the wiser. If I then let it go the rest of the week, I might get some comments around closing time Friday afternoon that I’ve got a couple gristles. Not a five o’clock shadow yet, just some noticeable follicles. Actually, I never get a five o’clock shadow. Even if I let it go a week, it comes in scraggly and splotchy like I sent my cheek through chemotherapy. 

So when it comes to the best options for shaving, I never really established a consistent ritual. Through most of my thirties, I gravitated toward the gel that magically turns into foam on your skin. Unfortunately, anything that defies the laws of nature that much wreaks havoc on your pipes. 

And no, that’s not a reference to either my penis or my asshole. There’s a first time for everything.

It was literally my pipes. That gel ends up sticking to everything and clogging the shit out of my drain. It certainly wasn’t the millimetres of follicles going down there. So I switched to shaving in the shower, but the gel doesn’t do well in the wet steam. 

Enter Somerset’s Essential Whatnot and So-forth. You massage it into your skin at the beginning of the shower, then let it work its way in. It starts tingling, feels  like a zesty aftershave, except it’s a slick pre-shave. When the time comes, you lather up a little soap, just not the Dr. Squatch type. I said lather, not leather.

What can I say? The shit works. It’s a weird feeling for someone who thought shaving required a force-field of white goop. It also helps that soap lather is more see through. Who woulda thunk that it would be beneficial to actually see the face while shaving? 

Again, your mileage may vary, especially if you actually grow hair between your neck and ear. But the Somerset’s worked even after No-Shave November when I had an unruly weed-patch growing there, so long as I trim it first.

It doesn’t seem to help after No-Nut November. Although if I needed help with that, I’d feel safer using this than Dr. Squatch’s pine tar. Plus, it tingles!

Lume Deodorant.

Before even trying this product, I was predisposed to hate it.

First of all, it’s named Lume with a fancy little accent on the e. That means it’s either made by a French person or someone who thinks adding random accents to a product make it sound fancier. Like whatever asshole threw that “olde tyme” into his description of shaving oil.

Even worse than its name, this deodorant is goopy, a viscosity reminiscent of snot. When it smudges through three little slivers on top like vomit through your fingers as that last-second dash toward the toilet comes up woefully short. And they expect me to put that on my underarms? Gross. I’m trying to make that area LESS moist, why the fuck would I rub a used handkerchief there.

Handkerchiefs don’t seem to exist anymore, and that’s a good thing. My grandpa always used one. I’ve never understood why we should want to deposit our snots into our pocket for removal later. I’m sure it’s better for the environment than Kleenex, but if I promise to recycle my beer bottles, can I keep the Kleenex? Do earth-hugging communes allow tissue paper? What about toilet paper? I know way too much of our modern society is disposable, but I hope we never have to debate the trade-offs of those two paper products.

Anyway, for ninety percent of my life, I’ve liked precisely one style of substance under my arms: Bone-ass dry. Don’t give me those sprays. Don’t give me those roll-ons. If the process of applying deodorant doesn’t remove some hairs and skin, it’s probably not doing its work.

I also can’t abide by deodorants with smells. I don’t want fresh scent or forest morning or scorched earth. Not even “evergreen musk,” which was the magical manly smell that Bath and Body Works put into my sweater-wearing fox soap. Again, the purpose of deodorant is to remove smell. Replacing it with a different smell doesn’t make sense to me. I’m not fooled by the taxicab air freshener, either.

In fact, most of those scented ones give me a rash before long. Maybe I’ve got sensitive skin. Maybe I’m allergic. For a good portion of my teens and twenties, I used Ladies’ Speed Stick. It’s okay, you can judge. But maybe that’s where my hatred of smells come from, because trust me, the types of scents assigned to most of the Ladies’ Speed Stick varietals aren’t smells a nineteen-year-old dude wants wafting out of his pores. What the fuck is a Pampered Lilac, anyway? Does that mean the flower’s living a cush life? Or is it wearing diapers?

In my adult years, I settled on Arm n’ Hammer. It fits my desire for both lack of smell and dryness. If I could rub actual baking soda on my armpits and be done with it, I would. Preferably with a sweater-clad fox on the front.

Then along came Lume.

“It’s organic,” my wife told me. “It’s hypoallergenically designed by medical professionals.”

“Did they design it to have all the comfort of the Sahara desert?”

“No, but it’s professional OB-GYNs.”

Ummm…. What?

Look, I’m not the manliest man ever. The closest I ever come to standard toxic masculinity is when we’re drafting fantasy football. I prefer mini golf to real golf. When I visited Minneapolis, I took my picture throwing my hat into the air right next to the Mary Tyler Moore statue. I like my beer more nutty than hoppy. I can’t figure out whose ass was more impressive in Demolition Man– Sandra Bullock’s or Sylvester Stallone’s.

Seriously, in those tight-fitting pants, that movie is a monument to two of the best-sculpted asses on the planet. 

With all those facts in her corner, maybe Wife didn’t think I’d blink an eye at a deodorant developed by a gynecologist. The left side of my brain gets it. There are a lot of similarities between the armpit and the crotch. Dank. Moist. Hair for no damned reason. A man’s taint is the only body part that smells worse than his armpit. 

And yet…

There’s a reason things it’s called feminine hygiene. I don’t think I need to give my armpit a morning-after pill.

Although, in all honesty, I’m only showering three times a week during the quarantine. So maybe my armpit DOES need a morning-after pill.

Let’s see, goopy substance with the consistency of snot, designed for vaginas, in my armpits? Sorry, Wife. I tried your all-natural soap with poor results. I tried your olde tyme shaving oil with mixed results. But I think I have to draw the line at…

Whoa, what’s that comfortable tingle? And that pleasant smell? Why are my pits feeling so fresh? And… dry?

Holy crap, y’all. This Lume shit is as pleasant as… okay, maybe not pie, because that wouldn’t really be appetizing. But the goop rubs in as simply as my Arm n’ Hammer, especially if I’ve just gotten out of the shower. Even on day two, it rubs in seamlessly. Sure, in these COVID times, you also might wonder what happens on showerless days three and four? Truthfully, I hit a limit around day three, when I switch back to the baking soda. Lume works great at preventing the funk from happening. When it’s already there, it’s not quite as effective. Sure, I could shower more often, but this is Quarantine Time, baby!

So I guess I stand corrected. The KY works great on my manly-man armpits. But the manly-man soap was unfulfilling. Meanwhile the nonessential but quintessentially British oils are workable and don’t clog my drains. 

Snotty lube is a good deodorant, but coffee grounds should keep their asses in the kitchen. Bare foot and pregnant, yo!

While I’m at it, I’d like to admit one other earlier mistake. 

Sly’s ass is far better than Sandra Bullock’s. 

2 Comments

I love this review! Those Lume ads are funny. I wondered what the product was like. I can’t decide if your review makes me more or less likely to get the product.

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