Here's a fun fact: dudes in China are not huge on deodorant. I don't know why; all I know is that it makes taxis and trains pretty bad in summertime. Deodorant is therefore quite hard to come across, since stores understandably don't want to stock something that no one buys. In the more westernized Shanghai area you can find it if you look hard enough, but in the relative Podunk that is Guiyang men's deodorant is the unicorn of personal hygiene products.
Read that again: men's deodorant.
As a matter of fact, deodorant is making inroads in the Chinese ladies' market.
So anyhow, last week I was faced with a pretty horrendous prospect: I finally ran out of the deodorant that I'd stockpiled from Mongolia. It was time to go shopping.
Knowing more or less from the start that my quest was doomed to failure, I walked down to the local drugstore.
"Hi, what are you looking for?" asked the clerk.
"Men's deodorant." I said.
The clerk wrinkled her nose. Clearly she had encountered in me a dangerous deviant. What kind of man wears deodorant? Is that how all laowai get their kicks? Sickos. What is this world coming to, where men can just walk into a store and ask for a stick of deodorant? And you know the worst thing? The way they shove their "deodorant-positive lifestyle" in your face:
I remember when I first came to China in 2010. I asked my Chinese friend where he bought his deodorant, as I couldn't find any. He asked me where I bought my tampons.
So was my reception in the drugstore that day. The clerk told me in no uncertain terms that products for the gentleman of ripe fragrance were not, have never been, and will never be among the offerings of her establishment. I asked her if she knew anywhere I could find them.
She shrugged, trying to think of something that would get me as far away from her as possible. "Wahr-ma?"
Wahr-ma, of course, being Chinese for Walmart.
Yes, Walmart has made its way to China, even to a backwater like Guiyang. Who knew that communism and megacorporations went so well together?
So I got on a bus into town, and half an hour later I found myself standing in what could very well have been the personal care aisle of a Walmart in, say, Spokane, were it not for one important difference: Spokane has Speedstick.
Instead I was faced with various displays of seductive-looking Asian women with their arms lifted up. Oddly enough, I noticed, the ladies in the ads had their armpits shaved, which it must be said is not enormously popular among women in China.
Oh well, I thought, and looked for someone with a smiley face on their vest.
Before long I found three middle-aged women stocking a shelf. Understanding perfectly well that I was not about to be helped, I asked them if they could point me to men's deodorant.
The laughter was uproarious. You could've heard it from Housewares. Chastised and beaten, I slunk off.
I was through. Screw it, I thought. When in Rome. Who needs deodorant anyway? If the local guys don't use it, then by golly neither will I. The human race survived for decades before deodorant was invented. It's probably just a conspiracy to get my money anyway.
Then, as discreetly as I could, I stuck my nose under my collar and sniffed.
It was awful. I smelled like a barn that had a locker room in it. My eyes watered, and I could feel my olfactory nerves shriveling up. And I had just showered that morning.
Nope. Just give me something, anything, to make me not smell terrible. I grabbed the first roll-on I saw, hurried back home and slapped that mother on. Zero shits given that it was in a pink tube decorated with flowers.
And that's the story of how Bro started wearing women's deodorant.
And you know what? I have zero regrets. A female coworker even said I "smelled nice" the other day.
It's a good scent, too. It's delicate and somehow powdery, with a hint of what I think is chamomile. I don't know why guys complain about there being no deodorant here, because the ladies' stuff does the job just fine.
The only drawback is this strange desire that I've had to go buy some new pumps and drink a cosmo. Which I'm going to go do, as today is my day off. Now where did I put my purse...?