My column for Femina Magazine dated Aug 22nd, 2014

The conventionally unattractive man is ignored because he is, as the ad suggests, conventionally unattractive. He grabs the dildo shaped graphic emblazoned with a word like “Gravity” or “Deadly”, “Inflation” or something equally vague. He spurts it in the general vicinity of his conventionally unattractive torso. Every woman within a 12 km radius (who for some reason has only a 2 buttons per shirt allowance) gets a whiff of him. Like locusts with sexy breasts they descend on now formerly conventionally unattractive man. He is now covered in lipstick marks. Close-ups of women’s fingers clench on bed sheets, and bare male backs and backs of heads. End graphic. “Be awild animal, Lust your smell, buy this deo.”

It not only slays the single women but the married ones as well. This inference is based on the massive number of ads that feature ripped off wedding rings, mangal sutras and heavily panting bhabhi’s who cede to sexual encounters on their way toa Pooja. The logic is that you might as well squeeze in a few of your own “Oh God!”s while on the way to the temple. (Non-threatenting voice over:Just  Zatak her you guys.)

Last week,while looking for a way to postpone actually sitting down to write this column, I found myself where most procrastinators convene- On Twitter. I asked “What is your favourite thing about a man/your man/men (in general). Just 1 thing.” The most popular answer unanimously was “they way they smell”*.I am scared breathless by the question— are deodorant ads telling the truth?

Being in an all girl’s school, I knew few things about men till I found myself sitting in a class next to one in college. It seemed I was now supposed to interact casually with this brand new creature who I had pretty much no idea what to do around. I remember being amazed by way hair grew on their face and neck and how they had awkward voices, but most of all, I was awed by the way they smelled.

One familiar whiff can trigger a powerful memory. As a Bombay dweller, I associate the nose-crinkling smell of drying fish and sea salted air with a happiness that activates others’ gag reflexes. It’s the sense that will alert you of a coming storm, Dadar station,  and a potential mate even before your eyes and ears. Your sense of smell detects chemical compounds called pheromones that signal sexual interest and process them for your completely unconsciously.At times like this, I appreciate mother nature’s Cupid act- because society barely prepares us for sexual interactions. While you bungle awkwardly through nervous smiles and stilted conversation- your nose and body has already made some decisions for you.

Luckily thanks to free-will and common sense and not having nearly enough shirts that have only 2 buttons we don’t have the same response as the buxom beauties in the deodorant ads. If deodorant ads are true, then no one would ever get any work done.

Husband: Why is the breakfast not ready?

Wife: Arre first the neighbour put on deodorant so I had run over to leave lipstick marks on his body, then you put it on so I to stand here clutching bedsheets and breathing heavily. Where is the time to make breakfast? Even the maid had to run out to rip off her mangalsutra suggestively when Rohit from the 5th floor was getting ready to go to college.

I dare not suggest that deodorant is redundant, it is a welcome invention that has made the commute to work bearable.  But let’s face it- women and men fell for each other much before  the invention of deodorant and public transport isn’t exactly designed for finding a mate. On the other hand, having your nose hair spontaneously combust because the cloud ofdeodorant around you as has a human being in it is not the best idea in the world either. The rules of sexual relationships are confusing enough, let’s not mix it up it with the rules of our relationship with that little black can of insecurities.

*For public interest purposes I would like to share the other  #4.

#2 “His personality:” which was the vaguest answer of all. It’s like saying I like a man for his eyes. You can’t like a person for having eyes. Having eyes is not a special or specific quality. Everyone has eyes. Come on yaar.

#3  “Confidence”: Agreed. A man/woman/person who likes themselves is easier to like.

#4 “Empathy/Sense of Humor”: These both came in with equal votes but that’s because they’re kind of two ends of the same spectrum.  Twitter can be pretty deep at times.

#5. “Why has nobody said his money or his penis size”: Men on Twitter contributing to the discussion

(For those of you who want to check out the tweets. I’ve Storified them here. Huge thank you to all who indulged me with their answers and their insights. Twitter is amazing.)

(This edition of Femina Magazine also has a fantastic Article on “6 Men That Make Us Laugh” which feature the hilarious Sorabh Pant, Sanjay Manaktala and Ashish Shakya. I’ve seen them all be fantastic on stage! Check it out!)

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