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Monday, January 23, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Commentary

Give men a "body fragrance" and they'll surely stink up a room

The Hartford Courant

Men do not do subtle.

Ask a man to keep a secret, and he'll announce to everyone he meets that there is something he can't talk about.

Tell a man that the suggested dress attire is laid back and casual, and he'll show up in flip-flops and a Speedo.

Give a guy a couple of beers and a dance floor, and what comes to mind is electrocution.

So when marketers began hyping various men's body sprays, washes and lotions as being irresistible to women, well, the male response has been predictable: They've been buying the stuff by the vat, rationalizing that if a little bit of these fragrances will help you get a girl, then crop-dusting yourself with a lot of the stuff will help you get a lot of girls.

This is why more and more men are walking around these days smelling like they have been dragged through wild flowers, dipped in the ocean and then water-boarded in rain-forest fruit pulp.

Men just do not do well with fragrances, which is why they should probably not be allowed to purchase anything scented without a prescription.

Nor should they be permitted to apply anything from the scent family to their bodies — with the possible exception of foot powder — without proper supervision.

No, men are much better off teetering along the edge of funky. Give them a shower and Speed Stick, and they should be good to go in most circumstances.

The only time men should resort to outside aromatic agents is in situations where they have not had a chance to shower and their natural state might violate human-rights or chemical-weapons treaties.

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What is ironic about the current male obsession with fragrance is that it might mask the natural scents that actually can attract women.

From what I have been reading, our bodies produce these odors called pheromones. And pheromones — which are kind of complicated but seem to work like airborne Spanish Fly — can make us appear appealing to the opposite sex.

A couple of key things to keep in mind about pheromones are: Unless one has undergone bloodhound-tracking training, a human can't consciously smell them. And, in terms of appealing, we're talking about initially appealing.

All the pheromones in the world aren't going to help if you're middle-aged and still living with mom.

Another interesting thing about the attraction power of pheromones is that we usually smell best to a person whose genetically based immunity to disease differs most from our own. Which, call me sentimental, does kind of take the romance out of it.

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