I recently received new evidence that I am woefully ignorant of modern fashions, this time in matters of hair care. A few days ago, my middle son walked past me, and I remarked that he smelled like fruit salad. He told me that I was detecting the rich bouquet of his new shampoo, something called, I believe, “Tropical Typhoon,” and which, he claimed, made him smell exactly like “summer in Arkansas.”
I immediately agreed, citing the coconut palms which line Fayetteville boulevards, the famous pineapple groves of Jonesboro, the extensive banana farms of El Dorado, and the world-renowned mango plantations of Pine Bluff.
He ignored my sarcasm and invited me to examine his shampoo collection, which is as strange as it is diverse. Should his hair become brittle, my son has a shampoo that contains eidelweiss, though he could not tell me how an alpine flower will make human hair more flexible. Should he discover that his hair is “lifeless,” this lucky lad has recourse to a marvelous concoction brimming with “restorative marigold and rose hips”; for “burned hair,” he has a shampoo blended with aloe vera, though I cannot recall the last time that my scalp caught fire. He also has shampoos that contain sassafras and chamomile, though I associate these substances with tea rather than with hair cleanser.
I decided that I needed to visit a local drug store in order to investigate contemporary trends in shampooing, and my first discovery was that not even shampoo is immune to “image appeal.” For example, spiritual seekers who aspire to enter nirvana can lather their scalps with a shampoo containing extract of lotus petals; for pastoralists, one shampoo contains “country apple” and another offers “clover blossom”; and for scuba enthusiasts, one exotic preparation advertised the presence of “sea vegetable extracts.”
But at the height of my cynical revelry, I was suddenly smitten, for I chanced upon a shampoo that contained the essential oils of “Australian wattle seed.” I am not sure what wattle seed is, but the bottle sported an attractive kangaroo logo, and my head suddenly filled with visions of a rugged life in the outback, where, with healthy, well-conditioned hair, I battled savage marsupials with my boomerang and subsisted on “tough guy” fare – bread, water, and, perhaps, wattle seeds.
I bought two bottles, just to be sure, and while washing my hair in the shower, I whistled ‘Waltzing Matilda.” My son soon arrived, and I asked him what he thought of my new shampoo’s fragrance. He laughed and asked, “What in the world is that!?”
In truth, the heady aroma of wattle seeds is not for everyone, but I felt very manly indeed while telling him about my new “Australian style.” He looked at me for a moment and said, “My Dad – Crocodile Dumb-dee.”
Actually, I don’t care what shampoo the little brute uses, as long as some of it rinses off his hair and goes into his eyes.
This posting first appeared as the frame for a wine column in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on June 30, 1999. Readers can find many more such articles in the electronic archives of the newspaper at www.arkansasonline.com. I currently wash my hair with Dr. Bronner’s Mint-Scented Soap, and doing so makes me feel very manly, indeed.