Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Do Those Chainsaws Come in Pink?

Real men hide their interest in ikebana. The only flowers they know are the ones they hold uncomfortably at arm’s length on dates and as sheepish apologies. They are allowed to dig around them, dump fertilizer in them, and study them in botany classes, but not really allowed to kneel down and marvel over the subtle mix of shades on a perfect iris, or arrange them in liquid-heavy vases so that they get enough light.

You don’t get men’s deodorants or other products in scents such as ‘lightly lilac’, or ‘blushing rose’. Mostly they come labeled as ‘coarse sawdust smell’, or ‘spring tide driftwood’. Because men don’t appreciate beauty or sweetness. We like it rough. We like it edgy, gritty and preferably life-threatening. What woman is going to buy a perfume with a name that sounds like something a hitman mutters at you just before his baseball bat turns your knees into blancmange?

Are these sexist comments? Is there something sinister like homophobia going on here? No. These are just observations made from walking through the shops. Not perfumeries, mind you, just the kind of shops where you get a can of beans, cheap wine and dried noodles. You get to the toiletries aisle, and there they are. The smells of men, all lined up in their shades of black and grey, accented with blues and greens. You do get the occasional neutral white one- those are for Sportsmen. Sportsmen apparently feel cleaner smearing stuff from a white bottle under their arms after a rough time on the pitch. I’m not a sportsman. Yet I have bought these. Thinking, wrongly, that sportsmen must really sweat, and those products must be super-effective. They aren’t. I won’t go into it, but I can sweat through the strongest deodorants. Not in a smelly way, just in a damp way. Short of buying a huge machine- the kind they use to flash-dry the above-mentioned noodles- and climbing into it myself, I don’t think I’ll ever be Arctic Dry, or Sahara Cool, or whatever those little bottles whisper at me with their hissing, lying nozzles.

Men are allowed to like trees. Pine trees are big. Forest fresh is popular. Baobab may have limited appeal to the novelty purchaser- for the most part we like evergreen giants, the ones straddled by lumberjacks and with canopies bigger than the local steakhouse. Yeah. Real men dig that shit.

I would consider writing to Unilever (as a random manufacturer) and asking them to produce something masculine, but with overtones of jasmine, and I can pretty much predict what the response would be, once the reader had wiped all the urine of their office chair: Men don’t want flowers. They want the freedom of the wilderness, the toss of the anarchic open seas, and the bleak void of the tundra.

Gotta admit. I like flowers. I like the way nature can do what I can’t. Reproduce in perfection the multifarious spread of scents and colours, shapes and sizes. I like trees, too, love to climb them, but you can’t give a copse of trees to your girlfriend to say you’re sorry. You can’t find a big enough kitchen counter in the world to support a Douglas Fir in a glass container filled with marbles.

So shoot me: I like flowers. I like the fuck-you blue of irises, the more velvet-than-velvet red of a perfect rose, the opiate reek of honeysuckle and the subversive oranges and yellows of a variegated nasturtium. If I could bottle the emotions you feel on seeing these, on smelling them, I’d be a happy man.


  1. Le petit Bleu de GarçonFebruary 17, 2010 at 11:57 AM

    Vous êtes doué pour l'écriture. Je visite votre journal seulement quelques fois mais chaque fois je suis frappé par comment bien vous prononcez des choses.

  2. Thank you very much for your comment, j'espère juste que ce logiciel de conversion doen't me faire dire: «Mon ami, j'aime les morses" ou quelque chose.

  3. Nice writing. But I repeat myself. You should write more. Often, everywhere.

  4. This entry is by far your most self revealing!! i love that you (reluctantly) embrace your feminine side! btw the smell of jasmin is very intoxicating nothing to be ashamed of

  5. @kambabe I love embracing my feminine side! Why just the other day I drew a pair of boobies on my pillow. :-) (Jasmine is kinda hawt).

  6. i think sea breeze with a hint of Jasmine would be lovely, or pine forest and rose ;-)
    Flowers are just pretty and smell nice. Why should appreciating that be linked to gender

  7. LOL'd. Literally.


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