Sunday, September 25, 2005

Eau de Toilet.

One of the reasons that I can barely be bothered to finish reading a book these days is because my five magazine subscriptions tend to keep me busy. I was recently sprawled on the couch reading Elle magazine, which I love for several reasons. One is the way in which its articles seem scientifically calibrated to my age and station ("Single and Loving It: Is Now the Best Time to Be on Your Own?"; "Metabolism Magic: Exercise Less, Live Longer"). Another is how it reminds me of Nora Dunn's "Saturday Night Live" character Pat Stevens (a former model... "thank you") and how she occasionally likes to pick up "a big book," which would always turn out to be a fat fashion magazine. My "big book" is Elle, and it arrives each month stuffed chock-a-block with pictures of clothes I can't afford, skin products I can't afford, hilarious achievements, and perfume samples.

If the perfume samples don't totally suck, I usually rip them out of the magazine and rub the bejeezus out of them on my wrist. Here are some brands recently seen in my latest issues:

Christian Dior
Calvin Klein

I was flipping and ripping when my eyes rested on this last example. I blinked. Were they for real? Here is what I saw: On the front flap, a woman kneels in a white dress (white's big in the menstruation industry) in a placid pool of water, blue sky behind her. There's a fragrance flap and the copy reads, "Beguile your senses. Succumb to the freshness."

I am not shitting you, I swear.

When you turn the page, there's a coupon for a dollar off any Tampax Fresh product, and the words "Get fresh. The new cardboard tampon with a light, clean scent."

I was being invited to smell a tampon. I could even rub the tampon scent on my wrist if I wanted to. This made me glad I was alone in my apartment, alone with the tampon smell. It's not something you want to be caught sampling in the presence of other humans. We're talking, after all, about something you put inside yourself to keep blood from coming out. Do I really need to smell it? Does anyone really care what their tampon smells like? Am I behind in fashion trends and wearing some hopelessly outdated tampon? Shouldn't this be in a men's magazine? Is Tampax hoping this fragrance will "cross over"? Conversely, will Chanel start making its own tampons, thereby creating a whole new way to layer scent?

The sample, in case you were wondering, smelled like a teen perfume, or maybe a car deodorizer. It was very floral and sweet. I could not detect any base notes of blood, estrogen or uterus. I imagine that it would protect me quite well if I happened to have my period but also was swimming in shark-infested waters. Other than that I couldn't really see what the fuss what was about.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Shake It Like a Salt Shaker.

The setting was Margarita's, an indoor/outdoor establishment on a lonely road in Hedgesville, W.Va. The mode of arrival was a black limousine, outfitted with blue neon accents along the sides and a forbearing young driver with spiky hair. The contents of the limo were thirtysomething and amused with themselves: one bride-to-be wearing a tiara with attached veil and an airbrushed T-shirt that read "Brian and Mandi 4ever," five married and newly minted mothers, one married woman (not yet a mom) and one single woman.

Leaving empty bottles of Michelob Light and a half-eaten box of Penis Gummies in their wake, they streamed toward the outdoor bar, which featured churning frozen drinks, two deep-fryers, an Avril-friendly soundtrack, a roaming cat and gravelly stations for games of horseshoes. The female patrons: mostly plump and bottle-blond. The male patrons: mostly tattooed and not fond of razors. The limo party ordered their drinks: more Mich-Lights, a strawberry-banana daiquiri for the guest of honor, and a margarita for the single girl, who generally forgoes beer and felt very heartened by the sight of hard liquor by this point.

The limo party was almost immediately told that their first round was being paid for by a man named Hercules, who was quiet and mustachioed and older and amused. The party was then left to their discussions, which primarily involved workouts and in-laws.

Meanwhile, the bride-to-be had been so focused on her aversion to being "one of those girls" with the tiara and veil that she forgot to be concerned that someone might order her a "blow job," until someone did. This meant the b-t-b was forced to bend over the bar and attempt to dump something into her mouth without hands. Though the whipped-cream-topped shot came a bit on her airbrushed T-shirt, everyone was highly entertained by her performance. It was decided that the party should move inside at that point, because inside there was a dance floor, and because in America we are aggressive in seeking humiliations for a person who is about to be married, especially if we are female.

The indoor scene at Margarita's was considerably grimmer. The air was smoky, the floor was carpeted and country music blared across an empty dance floor. The limo party, however, was lubricated, and ready to initiate change. A conversation was held with the DJ. The music became more dance-friendly ("Joy and Pain" etc.). Hercules silently bought another round. The single girl thought of unhappy frat parties as a freshman at Wash. U., her partying senior-year housemates at Penn, with whom she never identified, and sorority rush. Then everyone, grateful for a chance to ditch their troubles, joyfully made asses of themselves on the dance floor.

For much of the dance portion of the evening they were accompanied by a sole stranger. The stranger was, like the other male patrons, tattooed and had facial hair. But he was smaller, and wirier, and he had a wife-beater on and relished dancing to hip-hop. His gyrations were targeted toward a certain ladyfriend who sat front-and-center at the dance floor, captivated. She outstripped him in weight and height by about 40 pounds and four inches.

Then two things happened that scandalized the limo party, who were by this point a little overstimulated and were gathered around a table of half-empty drinks and a ravaged basket of chicken tenders and fries from the outdoor bar fryer. The first thing that happened was that a birthday was announced, and another blow job was ordered. However, in this case the blow job was placed on the center of the dance floor and the "fellator" was a heavy, older woman with bleach-weary hair and a too-tight skirt that revealed her underwear when she bent over. She made quick, dirty, expert work of the blowjob and accepted her kudos from the crowd and the DJ ("Wow, baby, what's your name, you have to come over to my place some time!"). Then the Chippendales couple resumed their routine, even more fiercely than before. The ladyfriend was wearing a big white T-shirt, khaki pants, sneakers, and a bitten lip. It was possible to imagine that she and her private dancer had rolled out of bed at 5 p.m. and come straight to Margarita's as both afterplay and foreplay. When the ladyfriend wasn't cheering on her lover's dance moves, she was up on the floor kissing him or grinding with him. These unexpected displays of sexuality, along with a surfeit of songs featuring Lil' Jon, did most of the limo party in. They straggled toward the door, chanting Hercules' name with forced spirit.

In the car on the way back, the party finished off the Penis Gummies and deconstructed the evening. Much was made of the dance-floor couple and how they "ruined" the atmosphere with their exhibitionism. The single girl defended them as carelessly as she opened a leftover bottle of Mike's Limeade. All she had seen was a couple in love who didn't give a fuck, and she drank to that.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Romantic Dramedy.

Everybody likes to pretend that they have pop-cultural taste, but everyone has fatal blind spots threatening to expose them at all times. One guy at the gym was talking a pretty good game to me, lending me his iPod, until he handed it over loaded with Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. For me, I was embarrassed to admit that sure, I would see Must Love Dogs. It has John Cusack and Diane Lane, right? I would see Must Love Dogs, even though it's a cheesy romantic comedy, but for some unexplained reason I'm going to get snobby and say I would never see something as stupid and gay as Maid in Manhattan.

Well, I'll tell you. I saw Must Love Dogs and they should call it Must Love Crap. The film does manage to establish John Cusack as some kind of prodigy for pulling off romantic, man-boy patter at his advanced stage of puffiness, but it all still falls flatter than the EKG on Dave Chappelle's career.

Meanwhile, I just saw the end of Maid in Manhattan on cable, and I'm ashamed to admit that I enjoyed it more, with the exception of Ralph (Rafe) Fiennes' poor American accent. Maybe it was the subzero expectations. Still, I don't know anyone who would endorse Maid and I know of at least two people who would endorse Dogs. Considering I have a Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam Greatest Hits CD in my collection, I don't know why I ever thought my opinion was credible in the first place.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Please Return Overdue Humans

So, I work for this national media outlet and this story was proposed as a possible item for broadcast. This made me uncomfortable. When the idea was floated, everyone in my meeting said things like, "Hey, that's great!" and "What a great story, we should totally do that."

Am I alone in thinking that the concept of using one person to represent an entire community of people is perhaps a flawed way to combat stereotypes, as this program is alleged to do? I was certainly alone at my table of coworkers.

In other news, if you are the type of person to worry about what you haven't yet done in life or could be doing better, check out the random link of the week as a little kick in the pants for more worrying.