Axe On, Axe Off

Big K wants cologne. He doesn’t want to go to Cologne… well, perhaps he does. He has inherited his mother’s wanderlust and we do have a healthy amount of German blood in us. A trip to Cologne would be lovely, but the point here is that he wants to smell good.

I gave him my standard I-can’t-answer-questions-without-quoting-a-movie response:

“That’s a negative, Ghost Rider. The pattern is full.” ~Top Gun (1986)

Now, keep reading before you jump to the bottom of this post and leave me some bizarre message questioning my parenting choices.

I have my reasons:

1. He’s only 14. Does someone at the age of fourteen really need cologne? Isn’t deodorant enough? I’m having a hard enough time adjusting to the fact that he showers twice a day now. He takes a shower at the end of the day in order to get clean and not sleep on really funky sheets. He takes a shower in the morning in order to get clean and not be funky at school. It also helps in taming his insane Harry Potter morning hair. I can not fault him this logic. I shower every morning. I honestly can’t function without it. I shower every night. Gym. Enough said.

2. I have to wisely choose which battles to fight. He is a teenager. There are disagreements and, honestly, far too many things are happening around here between 0545 (when we all get up) and 0700 (when the school bus arrives) for me to deal with a daily argument regarding scent moderation. You laugh. It. Would. Happen. My child, and he is still my child, will not walk out of this house smelling as though he as slept all night submerged in a cologne bath.

I am not, however, completely unreasonable. I was perfectly willing to compromise.

So, early in the evening we popped across town to Walgreen’s in order to negotiate this development whilst standing in front of the all the make-your-body-smell-better products. I had to go anyway. We needed bread and milk. Monday evening is usually my night for grocery shopping, but I spent most of the day violently ill and a grocery store was definitely out of the question.

My compromise was this: I was willing to let him switch to scented deodorant (instead of the standard generic stuff) and a matching scented soap or body wash. He was satisfied with this proposal (mentally I give myself a ‘Mother of the Day’ award) and there we stood in the drug store while he made his choices. This was not a quick process, but eventually we had the preferred items. Axe Phoenix. Body wash and deodorant. Yes, I have seen the ridiculous Axe commercials. I know no woman that reacts to the Axe scents as portrayed in those advertisements so I deemed the items appropriate and we left the scented aisle of Walgreen’s.

In another family the story might have ended there. Oh, no. Not us.

As we rounded the corner of the aisle Little K looked at me and said, “Mom, I want cologne.” What the hell? I wouldn’t purchase the stuff for his older brother. Why would I get it for a nine year old? Is it too much to ask for him to pay attention to what is happening around him? Obviously it is. I quickly think of how to respond to this child. If I merely say, “No!” then he is going to ask for the deodorant and the body wash. Heck, he probably equates those things to cologne. Big K, meanwhile, laughs at the look on my face and, in typical teenage fashion, speeds several store aisles ahead of us. I turn and take Little K by the shoulders and explain the situation in a way I feel he can truly appreciate. “Your brother is going through puberty.” I say. “He stinks.”

I feel this is a fine place to further illustrate how my boys are polar opposites. Big K, from a very early age, has had tact. He would never point out oddities in people while still in their presence or even within earshot. Kyle, on the other hand, has absolutely no tact and no desire to learn the skill. He has diarrhea of the mouth and says whatever comes to his mind… usually quite loudly. I know this. I have raised him. He is my child. And, yet, sometimes I underestimate his brashness. His reaction to my statement about his brother went something like this:


Classic. Need a remind you that Big K was at least 5 aisles away at this point? If you were in Walgreen’s in this vortex of Small Town, USA between 1745 and 1800 on Monday, August 31, 2009… let me apologize. I’m quite sure you didn’t need to hear my youngest child scream the word “puberty” (accompanied by raucous laughter) across the store to his elder brother. I’m also positive you didn’t want to witness the scene that unfolded in the 30 seconds following that outburst.

And, in case you are wondering, I revoked that “Mother of the Day” award I had given myself only moments earlier. I had no choice for, in the midst of breaking up the potential throw down between my boys, I was laughing hard enough that any fellow patrons who weren’t already staring definitely turned to do so as I cackled uncontrollably. My laugh, dear friends, is no quiet thing.

Oh well. Big K might have been embarrassed, but at least he’ll smell good.

Siblings are the people we practice on, the people who teach us about fairness and cooperation and kindness and caring - quite often the hard way. ~Pamela Dugdale


  1. Perhaps he's motivated by the fact that girls his age are using perfumes and makeup, and maybe even there's some one he wants to impress that he hasn't told you about yet.

    In any event, be glad that he cares about grooming and hygiene. And you can use this as an opportunity to teach him that (at least when it comes to cologne) "less is more!" ;-)

  2. Flying too and from boarding school on those tiny little Cessnas there was one fellow student (male) who wore cologne. A lot of it. I retaliated by throwing up in his lap.

    Axe is a nice choice--not too much, but very nice smell. The chicks will dig it.

  3. John ~ He always has someone he wants to impress. In 1st grade he had 5 girlfriends. =) The scent moderation lesson will come. Someday. Not today. At 16 perhaps.

    Dori ~ Girl, now you *know* I have to know to whom you are referring because that's just hilarious.

  4. Love this story! I am certain to have similar stories to share in a few years.

  5. Carrie ~ Oh, you will my dear. You will! =)

  6. This is classic sibling stuff. I love it. I will mourn the fact that I will never experience it from this side!

  7. Hahaha!

    Now why do younger brothers have to be doing this? Barely repressed memories - of younger sibling pulling down my swimming costume in front of a crowd of my classmates at the local 'cool' waterpark - are now resurfacing.

    So, did Big K find it funny or did Little K get what was coming to him later on (out of Mum's sight)?

  8. Finn ~ I will gladly let you borrow mine. They are trained and generally behave well in public, but are always good for a lot of laughs... especially the little one.

    Mo ~ Surprisingly he handled it quite well. I think he was able to see the humour in the situation. As for little brothers (and sisters - as I am one)... it is our job to humiliate the elder sibling. We take it very seriously. =)


"Stranger, if you passing meet me and desire to speak to me, why should you not speak to me? And why should I not speak to you?" ~Walt Whitman


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