Axe deodorant spray: Hygiene hijacker or secret sports weapon? | Jan's Journal

"Back to school time" reminds me of new shoes, sharpened pencils, glue sticks and lunch boxes.

Come September, my kids adamantly repeat the phrase “I need new everything!” That translates to mean that last year’s backpack is no longer cool.

Of course my son’s heavy junior-high rolling suitcase/backpack is not OK for high school — unless we want him to be beat up every day before the first bell rings. But the youngest will be suffering through fourth grade sporting last year’s (new) pink plaid instead of the more fashionable blue stripe backpack she unsuccessfully insisted was necessary.

The endless school supply list wipes us out too, including toiletries. Trying to clear a path in my son’s room, buried under the third layer, I discovered the bane of many junior high school teachers’ existence. This item should be banned from the school supply list, or better yet, removed permanently from store shelves as a danger to society: Axe anti-perspirant and deodorant.

Cleaning up after teaching art docents last spring, the next class entered and settled into their chairs. I could hardly breathe as the overwhelming distinctive scent of Axe deodorant permeated the room. Blessed (or cursed) with hypersensitive smelling abilities, I discreetly zeroed in on the perpetrator. Sitting innocently between two sweet girls was a sweaty boy who had just run in from recess. I debated internally over which was more offensive: No deodorant, or Axe. It’s a close call, and I’m still not sure. How can anyone concentrate with that sickly odor, and more importantly, how can they all behave like nothing is wrong?

Gulping clean air in the hallway before returning to quickly pack my stuff, I puzzled over this phenomenon, but eventually blocked it from my memory — until now.

Wordlessly, wearing surgical gloves, I gingerly placed the black and blue Axe dry action deodorant (approved for hot encounters, according to the label) in my son’s bathroom to see if he’d notice it. His dad must have unwittingly purchased this invisible solid because last year, I trashed the spray can version when it accidentally fell out from the bottom of his backpack.

The discovery was made later that day. I overheard him fondly reminiscing with his older sister about the "Axe wars" the seventh- and eighth-grade boys held on P.E. days in the boys' bathroom. Envisioning a group of adolescents laughing hysterically as they randomly sprayed each other with 24-hour protection made sense. They knew it was hideous, or they wouldn’t have done that to annoy each other. My heart is full of empathy for junior high teachers everywhere. It’s a no-win situation.

This personal hygiene issue is huge, and yet, only a few disciplined teachers would be strong enough to broach the subject objectively. I trust there is enough compensation built into the contract for those who must work every day in a concentrated Axe warzone.

There may well be a positive in this situation. Axe could be a ground-breaking, over-the-counter secret weapon used to defeat the opposing sports teams. Faze them initially with an overabundance of reeking scents. While the other team recoils and is focused just on breathing fresh air, rush in and score most of the points early on. It’s a perfect plan. It doesn’t cost the school anything — the teenagers already own it, the kids naturally spray it uncontrollably on everyone and everything, and it is above suspicion. Strategic planning is necessary, or the potential for backfiring is enormous. The deodorant label should state a warning: Proceed with caution — a little goes a long way.

"Back to school" is in full swing, and the weather is changing just enough to make us think about chocolate Halloween candy. Now that’s a smell we can live with!

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