Sunday, January 01, 2006

Shampoo Theory

I have a theory about shampoo. It goes like this.

You can gauge a man's maturity by the type of shampoo he uses. It's quite obvious really. Kinda like the rings on a tree. Think about it.

From birth to age ten a boy will use whatever his mother buys. In our house it was Johnson's "No More Tears" Baby Shampoo. It was, for all I can figure, the first shampoo that was ever colored yellow. It also prevented tears should it get in your eyes. Good stuff really. Had a nice smell too.

At around age ten a boy starts thinking about becoming a teenager. Pre-teen aspirations require that boys change things. It's symbolic. There is no real reason that a ten year old needs to shave, but he'll try it out anyway. There is really no reason to switch from Johnson's Baby shampoo either, except that there may be times when this boy goes on an overnight trip to say, camp or a sleep over at a friends house. He'd be caught dead if he brought "baby" shampoo. So he switches.

The shampoo that he uses next is carefully researched, considered and the topic of much internal dialogue. In the end, if he has an older brother, it will be the shampoo that the older brother is using. For me it was Finesse. Yup. Finesse. One of my dad's good friends worked at Helene Curtis, the company that made Finesse shampoo. Every Christmas we would get a gift basket filled with goodies from his company, including bottles of shampoo. So when my brother Kevin hit the age of ten and made the switch, Finesse was a readily available choice. Three years later when I hit the age it became mine too.

I don't know what boys without older brothers do to make the switch at this age. I never had to ponder it, so I don't know.

The next change in shampoo can happen anywhere, anytime within the next five years. It all depends on when your friends discover the bottle of Finesse and give you enough grief about using a "girly" shampoo that you tell your mom you must get a new kind. Something more masculine and less likely to make you the object of finger pointing in the school halls. You don't tell your mom this reasoning of course. You say something like "I need a new shampoo that will be better for my hair. This stuff that we have in the house now doesn't cut it anymore" or something like that.

A few of my friends were using Pert so of course I asked my mom to get some for me. Pert was a safe choice at the time, but if you really wanted to be on the cutting edge you would try the bold combo of shampoo plus conditioner, aka "Pert Plus". Within a month I made that switch too. Now looking back on this I realize that the name Pert sounds and awful lot like "perk" which might make you think of coffee percolating, but all it really makes me think about is Katie Couric. She's "perky". Pert is what I used until I was a Junior in High School. Then I made the switch to Suave.

Suave was cool. Suave was, well, suave. And suave is what I wanted to be. I wanted girls to notice me, and so, giving into the marketing machine of Unilever I believed that if I used a product that had a desirable adjective to teenage boys as it's name then, by some method of transfusion, teleportation or osmosis this product I rubbed on my head would magically transform me into a real Casanova. I would be a teenage ladies man without the Courvoisier. And this naturally is what occurred. To me anyway. To everyone else I was still that quiet geeky kid who wore yellow Chuck Taylor's, argyle socks, white pants, CSN concert t-shirt and flannel shirt. It was like Billy Squier, Eddy Vedder and Ferris Bueller got together and had a love child. I don't have any clue how that might work, but my point isn't about the reproduction capabilities of a couple teen idols. At that time in my life I was at the intersection of Preppie and Grunge, and there was a six car pile up in the middle of the street. It wasn't pretty. I have pictures. But I digress.

So Suave was the shampoo of choice for me all the way through college. Sometime after college the hair started thinning and a few flakes began appearing. And as the commercial says "you never have a second chance to make a first impression" so tried Head & Shoulders. Since then I've tried all flavors of Head & Shoulders shampoos. I've tried Dry Scalp, Itchy Scalp, Oily Hair, Half and Half, Half Calf Decalf and even some versions with actual tar include. What's that about? Is the tar supposed to glue the hair on my head so it doesn't fall out? It's craziness.

Thankfully the flaky scalp was a phase. I am now at a point in my life where I buy whatever is on sale. And if I run out and I am using the right shower I simply grab some of the kids shampoo. It's all good, plus I am a cheapskate. I must be in my thirties.

I will know that I have reached senior citizen age when my choice of shampoo automatically switches to something nasty smelling like Psorigel. If that happens I might just shave my head.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Admit it. You use the kids Kandoo Shampoo, too.