When our younger son turned 13, he informed me that, although he needed a new bottle of shampoo, he did not want the cheap stuff he’d been using for years.
“I want manly shampoo,” he announced.
I understood he might not want to use foofoo shampoo like lilac or rose, but what’s wrong with strawberry and coconut? If it’s good enough to be in dessert, it’s good enough to wash hair.
But I have not yet untangled the male mind. I thought, having two brothers, two sons and a husband, I could get some insight. I figured I could ask any of them and they’d interpret.
When my brothers were boys, they had contests to see how much fruit they could cram in their mouths. One day my younger brother stuffed so much banana in his mouth that he couldn’t move his tongue for several minutes. He had to wait for the banana to dissolve.
So, after we were adults, I cornered him. “Remember the banana incident?”
“Yeah,” he said drawing his words out like cold molasses.
“So why did you do that?” I thought I could get a key in decoding the male mind.
He lifted his shoulders. “I don’t have a clue.”
Some help that was.
One day I watched our 12-year-old son and friend challenge his 6-year-old sister to foot races. Every time the boys crossed the finish line before the little girl, they did a victory dance only matched by my mother when I came home with an engagement ring.
I described the scene at dinner to my husband. “Why would those boys get any joy out of beating a little girl in a foot race? They were older, faster, bigger. What fun was that?” Surely my husband could shed light on the issue.
He lifted his shoulders. “Testosterone causes brain damage.”
Like that was helpful.
Those stories clanged around in my brain as I stood with my younger son at the shampoo aisle. Still trying to learn about a guy’s thinking, I turned him loose. He was my newest study.
We came home with manly shampoo. He rushed to the shower. In the middle of the afternoon.
This was the boy who showered like the cowboys in the westerns: after every cattle drive. And we didn’t have cattle.
Still damp, he rushed out of the bathroom and held his dripping hair under my nose. “Smells manly, huh?” he said.
“Oh, yeah,” I assured him. Then he thrust his forearm in my face.
“Smell that.” Apparently he had manly soap, too. I told him he was very manly and he was satisfied.
I might ask what banana-stuffing, footrace whupping and woodsy shampoo have in common.
Apparently they’re among the pieces in building a man.