Monday, January 23, 2012

Her first hair cut.

Jessie and her father had never really "fit in." And it didn't seem like they would be too long in a town before Dad had their old, green, Astro van, packed with their few, meager belongings, their white, 6x12 trailer, full of tools, hooked up, and they were rolling down the road.

But something felt different about Kingsberry. Perhaps it was from her first waking moments as they drove in that fall morning. The sun, glistening from every hard surface on the ground as it melted the night frost. The leaves that were still clinging to the trees in all their fall splendor, as if to wrap the county in a warm, red and orange blanket, comforting it's residents before the winter. The roadside was adorned with wonderfully aged split railed fences, that seemed to merely decorate borders of properties, but offered little in the way of actual protection. And occasionally behind the trees the livestock fences would poke through, and offer glimpses to the horse properties and small family farms neatly tucked into the landscape. It may have been new to her, technically, but the town was as familiar as home, and seemed to have been plucked right from a Hallmark movie.

It had been six months since that day, and she still expected to wake up in the van every morning, but was always pleasantly surprised by her alarm clock that greeted her at 5:05, regardless of day or weather. Twenty-five minutes was all she ever felt she needed in the morning. It was just enough time to throw on her Carharts, make some coffee (for her father, she couldn't stand the taste of it), and have her banana and wheat toast with raspberry jam. Then, time to leave Miss Asburey's basement, they were renting in exchange for farrier services, and out to the barns to start tending to whatever work they managed to contract for the next seasons. Her father, Nelson (who felt like that was a grandfather name and went by "Nels") was starting to show the signs of age and a whiskey binging lifestyle he had been trying to neatly conceal. But hiding his "road wear" was something that, dusty work cloths and his tattered Dale Earnhardt 3 cap, were no longer able to do. He moved slower, his hands were getting clumsy, and he rarely made it out the door on time. This was the second town where Jessie had started picking up the slack, and so far she felt as though she was doing it better than last time.

The daughter of a "career farmhand" left Jessie with few ties to her femininity, her long hair, she always felt, was her identity as a woman. Livestock didn't much care if your lips were glossy, perfectly blended blush never did much for "critters" as Nels so frequently called 'em. Her hands were rougher than most boys, and she had a nervous habit of nail biting. Her hair, she always left long, to remind herself of who she was, and bothersome as it was at times, she had never imagined making it any shorter.

As consistent as alarm clocks that are properly set can be, they still tend to fail when the power goes out, today was that day. She woke to find her faithful alarm clock blinking twelve, and she could hear Miss Asburey, upstairs, loading her cloths washer, a sound she had only heard once before, and that was at 9 in the morning. She rushed to get dressed, and to the next room to wake Nels, who had long stopped setting alarm clocks and was completely dependent on Jessie's two knock wake-up rap on the door. In a flustered rush they headed out the door, ready to start apologizing for today's wrecked schedule, and as Nels often said "Hurry every chance you get." It was an hour drive down the I-5 to the Blankenship farm, just outside a little coast town Washington tried to forget. And with their late start, they were greeted with a morning traffic jam from a semi-truck, whose poorly secured load shifted when the driver avoided a deer, and successfully blocked 3 lanes of traffic. It was a slow creep past the flares, sheriff's deputies, and big-rig tow truck, but they were back up to the speed limit after 20 or so minutes of stop, start driving. They were finally able to move at a consistent enough speed to cover some miles, and both start mentally preparing for which job they might skip, and re-prioritize their day.

Noon had come and gone and it seemed like the Blankenship boy, Danny, had harassed Jessie about everything from her punctuality that morning, to her wavy hair, that Danny was calling a "misplaced horsetail." Any other day, and Jessie may not have even heard it. She liked Danny, and the best way she could show it was to give him a hard time, and ignore anything hurtful he might say in returning the favor. But after a failed alarm clock, missing breakfast, and the traffic jam, Jessie's thick farmhand skin had wore thin, and she did what any girl might do after being repeatedly insulted, she cried. It was the crying that reminded her most of all she was a girl, because as the warm tears ran down her cheeks, a memory rushed in. And she could see her mom, kneeling by Jessie's bedside wiping her tears away with her hair, and singing Jessie her very own verse to "Jesus Love's Me." She was comforting Jessie, after she overheard the screaming that would follow Nels' return most Saturday nights. "Jessie, I always want you to remember, you are Mommy's girlie-girl, and even if I'm not with you, I love you big as the sky."

She hid behind the shack the Blankenships called the "cow garage" a building just big enough for their 1982 flatbed f-250. Her tired defeated frame resting against the graying side of the building, she grabbed her hair that draped over her left shoulder wiped her own tears, and looked at that big blue sky. Memories like that didn't help her really feel stronger, and she still wrestled with the thought of her mom actually looking down on her from above. Bittersweet was a poor analogy to her feelings wrapped around memories of her mother. What would start as a loving memory would be drowned by the feeling of abandonment, and the questions that fill the minds of suicide survivors. She looked back down at her hair, angry with herself for this moment of weakness, she rushed back to their van, opened the tool box, grabbed their sharpest shears, and started to cut her hair off at the pony tail. The work shears were woefully, inadequate for her thick, dark hair. And with every, hair-pulling stroke from the shears, she felt a little satisfaction. As if each time she felt pain from the shears pulling more than cutting, it was a pat on the back to her forward progress. And then the moment when she was totally through, she pulled her hand from behind her head to see what she had done, the satisfaction had instantly melted to regret. Her most prominent, visual link to her femininity now laying in her hands. "Was this how impulsively Mom had ended things? Could it have been this knee jerk?" The questions seemed to knock the strength from her knees and she steadied herself with her now opened and empty palms on the floor of the van. She had to deal with the reality of her day still, and that she had a lot of work to do yet. She picked herself up, slammed the doors on the van, and rushed back to the cow garage to get the flatbed so it could be loaded with the next day's hay. She couldn't waste anymore time on her "feelings" today, and she gave little thought to what response she would get. But it would be the response of Nels that would surprise her the most.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Jet Fuel

I won't lie, I love the smell of jet fuel. It excites a sense of adventure in me. I have always loved traveling, plane, train, car or boat, sign me up! And today the smell of jet fuel, ushers in the excitement of going home. I recently had an opportunity to earn some extra money working nights for a short time in Anchorage, and here I sit waiting to board my flight home.

Travel, these days, also means leaving my family home. So for the last week I have felt- incomplete. Every little girl, every babies cry, reminded me of home. I saw my children, in everyone else's.

I appreciate the chance to catch up with my Dad and Brother while stuck up here. I have eaten food that my little Homer doesn't offer, and I have re-discovered the roads of my youth.

And the entire time I've been gone, I've longed for the scent of jet fuel, the incense of my departure. I will miss my mountains, the star over Arctic Valley, good restaurants, and stores open 24hrs. But I will soon be boarding a small plane, flying to the end of the highway, and meeting a toddling girl, and teething little boy, clutching their mother, and making me whole again. Thank you Jet Fuel, for getting me home.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

somebody stop me!

Seriously, someone needs to plead with me to take this blog down before I get myself into even more trouble... if you're still reading this, none of you love me enough to have convinced me to stop myself from the slaughter I walk myself to.

Here goes.

The Clean House~

I love a clean house, I love walking into my house and smelling clean air, possibly even the fragrant soap used to clean it. And when I go to someone elses' clean house, I appreciate the work they put into their domicile, to make it so. And should I walk into your house and it's a mess... I totally identify.

You see, being a "clean freak", per se, was never really a quality of mine. Oh, not that I grew up in a messy home, to the contrary, my mother was quite fastidious. If the house wasn't picked up, my parent's offspring, most likely, had something to do with it. Okay, so it was probably me. But mom, I think, was very good at not nagging me about my mess. However...

Whenever my parents would leave for the day, there would, almost invariably, be a list of things to accomplish before their return. It might read; "Clean the kitchen, take out the garbage, swap out the laundry, pick up the entry way (put your extra shoes in your rooms), vacuum the floor, clean your bathroom" etc. And as the oldest, I was learning the significance of managerial skills, and thus delegated.

My sister would say that delegating would imply that I somehow thought the job should be done, assigned jobs, and participated myself. And that may not have totally been the case either. You see, I would examine the list, look at the clock and the return time noted on the "assignment sheet", and then calculate how much needed to be done in order for it to look like I made a concerted effort to complete the list. The sister who would be scoffing at the "delegated" comments would be completely stressed out at my kill the list approach. Usually around two hours before my parents arrival, she would be frantically cleaning, stressed out, and angry at her brothers for not helping with the cleaning. Exclaiming to the world, "You guys, when Mom gets home, she is going to see what a mess the house is, and she is going to be mad at me!" Reasoning I never understood, but then I would calmly explain to her that there was at least two hours before she got home, which left us like an hour or better to relax till we had to really start cleaning. Unfortunately, some of this logic has spilled over, but I feel, as an adult, I have come up with better reasoning.

My wife's approach to cleaning is, start early, and clean all day till evening when you can relax. Now that was a crude, possibly exaggerated statement, but I promise there is a shadow of accuracy in there. I fail to see the logic behind cleaning the house right away. The children will be up, they will want food, you feed them, clean them up-ish (their gonna get messier in moments), you entertain said children till they nap. When they are napping, and not playing with their toys you, quickly, pick up the living room, do the dishes, throw some laundry in the machine, and start dinner. Just in time for Tina to come home, smell the dryer vent as she walks by the warm air blasting from the wall of my house, walk in and be greeted by a living room that is picked up, see an empty sink, and me preparing dinner, and not in trouble for not doing my least favorite task in the world, clean the house.

Okay, all that being said, I am actually trying really hard here. Honestly, even I laugh as I type this, but really guys! I am trying to do more in this department so that my wife can enjoy a clean house more, and since, acts of service, is kinda one of her main love languages, it would be healthy for me to take a more serious approach to cleaning.  Honey I love you, and I'm working on it. It might not be over night, but the house will continue to look better when you leave it with me.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Stay-at-Home Dad.

Holy stigma batman! What a title, only in this day and age has this really become an embraced thing, and as an Alaskan male, I find it violently runs against everything I've been taught about masculinity, the provider and protector of the home, etc. (not saying that is, in anyway, a correct or even validated viewpoint). And look where I have landed.

Now I hardly consider myself a stay-at-home dad. I do kinda work, almost 4 days a week. I say "almost" because I never start before noon, and on my latest day I'm there till 6ish. And I say "kinda" because teaching drums is awesome and in no way feels like work. And I will be gone for around 100 days come fishing season earning my winter lifestyle. Still being home with the children for most of my winter schedule qualifies me for this title, and I find myself questioning a world view I've long held regarding the sexes.

Oh, there are a handful of you reading this calling me a sexist as these words spill out before you, that is hardly the case. The man uttered phrase "Honey I'm Home" isn't a common phrase in our society because the sitcom was making light of an anomaly in American Culture, indeed it was the norm for dad to go to work, and mom to be home raising children. That was the scenario much of my childhood, it was the scenario for my parents upbringing as well. And here I find myself the father of two, and am much of the time, a stay-at-home dad.

What happened?

My wife and I, years before we met each other, knew we were going to be parents. We both also, followed common paths, youths from high school take when venturing out from home. My path landed me in mediocre paying jobs, on par with the skills I had acquired to that point. And her path landed her in an awesome job, but with a great deal of college debt. We have one car payment, because we wanted her to have a quality family vehicle, that was both safe, and dependable, it was not brand new, but not run into the ground either. We have not had the best of luck with my vehicles, I make no claims at being a whiz mechanic, and all my trucks have been old, so at the moment we have one functioning car... We have a mortgage, and it's literally around 100 bucks less a month then renting was. And we have been incredibly blessed to have family members that were willing to watch our children at no cost.

When we had our second child, we found it difficult to continue to impose on the network of family members to watch our children 8+ hours a day. Fortunately at this same time, Tina's cousin, was willing to take me fishing, and I had started teaching at the music school in the same year, and the opportunity arose for us to start raising our own children.

You see, it killed me, to every morning of the week, be dropping my daughter at a different family members house. Knowing that I couldn't provide enough for my children to be raised, in large, by their parents, and raise them with the uncertainty of "where will I be today?" was more then I could continue to bear. Tina is a public school teacher, so she is home all summer. Going fishing is hard on ALL of us, but the reward of being home in the winter, makes it worth it for me. And my awesome schedule at the music school, lets us have the children with their Grandma's during the week, just a few hours on the days I teach.

I am so grateful for my employers, and the willing, loving, Grandparents my children have. The amazing wife I married who puts up with my impulsiveness, and lets me go be daring and provide for my family in the summer, so I can love and relish every moment I'm with them in the winter. I got to experience an entire Christmas break with my wife and family this year. I get to let my children sleep in, wake-up with Daddy, bond with my son, snuggle my daughter. Be here to discipline, feed, and encourage my babies. Being gone in the summer is brutal, being home in the winter is amazing, every dad should be so lucky.

I guess I'm giving this another shot.

I have long aspired to be a regular blogger. I know, lofty ambitions right, who doesn't want to grow up and be a blogger? No, really, I have actually wanted to write regularly since the popularization of this "interweb" thingy. I have made several attempts on other websites. Oh, I am not looking for recognition, nor do I naively think that this will somehow lead to a paying gig, I just want an out for some of my many meandering thoughts. I have included some of my favorite personal blogs on this blog site. Here is my problem, I'm sure you can identify... motivation.

To put it quite simply, I don't frequently have this uncontrollable, urge to write. Instead, they could best be described as passing inclinations. However I enjoy writing, it entertains me, and I find the more I do it, the more inspired I am to read more, have more challenging discussions, and thus write more.

Concentrating is also something of an issue. As I type, my 9 month old is playing with a music stand toy, with a piano, guitar and microphone all attached. There are screaming guitar licks, random piano runs, and syncopated stomp/clap rhythms, in no way timed with each other I might add. My 2 1/2 year old is sitting as close as she can to me, watching Toy Story 3, clutching her Jessie doll, and then narrating for me what the 9 month old is doing, then in the same breath narrating, or quoting the movie, making for some interesting sentences. Not to mention the ADD, oh yeah, it's not just the title of my blog page, it's what I deal with on a daily basis. Actually I forget I have it, other people remind me "uh, hey, Ash, your day-dreaming again." Past students of mine used to try to see how far they could get me to rabbit trail during lessons, for this reason, I can be caught drinking a Monster before headed to the school. I self medicate through caffeine, which is a tool that has proven to be quite effective for me since I quit taking Ritalin and Adderall in high school.  Okay, I already hear back lash on two sides for that previous sentence. The first being for my consumption of an energy drink on a regular basis, save your rebukes, I've heard the arguments, this is my I don't care face :-I. The second are the people who are fervently against the use of stimulants on children and think ADD is over diagnosed, and blah, blah blah, blah blah, heard all those arguments too. The fact of the matter is I performed WAY better with the medication in school, I never suffered withdrawals, or exhibited any signs of addiction, and as an adult I can monitor what works and what doesn't for myself, and I'm telling you I focus better and can get the job done quicker with a can of Monster.

Now what was I writing about before the "I can't concentrate" statement melted into my "save your ridicule" tirade? Oh yeah my writing a blog. Even as I sit here I have difficulty finding thoughts on a "first blog" the credits are now rolling on the Toy Story 3, my palate is telling me that if I were Campbell's, I would have added some brown sugar to that Ham and Bean soup that I shared with my daughter. Facebook keeps getting high-lighted telling me of another notification, and the falling snow keeps grabbing my attention.

I suppose that when one is experiencing writers block, it is probably not the best moment to start a project in a venue designed for writers... however I decided to take a "carpe diem" approach to this, I don't feel like I've seized very much... maybe I'll make a pot of coffee and take a second run at this after the kids are both napping.

Mixtapes (err playlists? I guess) November 25, 2010

A dialogue between someone very dear to me recently, reminded me of the day when I made mixtapes regularly, and the HOURS I would pour into putting 15 or so songs together. For fun, for a girl, for me, for a bandmember, whether I was introducing someone to music for the first time, or trying to send a message, it was a passion, and an art that is lost in the iPod era, yes the shuffle killed the relavence of song order.

Putting a good mix together meant listening, moving, removing and making sure there was a flow. You didn't go from a 6/8 acoustic love song to hiphop. Songs needed to transition well and take you on a journey. Anyhow, it reminded me of one of my favorite movies, High Fidelity.

"To me, making a tape is like writing a letter - there's a lot of erasing and rethinking and starting again. A good compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do. You've got to kick off with a corker, to hold the attention (I started with "Got to Get You Off My Mind", but then realized that she might not get any further than track one, side one if I delivered what she wanted straightaway, so I buried it in the middle of side two), and then you've got to up it a notch, or cool it a notch, and you can't have white music and black music together, unless the white music sounds like black music, and you can't have two tracks by the same artist side by side, unless you've done the whole thing in pairs and...oh, there are loads of rules."-from Nick Hornsby's, High Fidelity

Man I need to watch that again.

Gluten, Protein, and the Kitchen Sink -October 21, 2008

Gluten, Protein, and the Kitchen Sink
Current mood:content
Ok, so I shouldn't be trying to find myself in food, I'm a fat kid, I need to find myself in a serious running and drum practice regimen, as well as maybe weight watchers. But in the last two or three years, I have discovered that I love to find ways to tell people how awesome they are with food. Or maybe I like to tell people how awesome I am by cooking food. Does that sound bad, I think it does, but if you haven't tried my "dirty steaks" or "yellow bellied turkey" you can't understand the passion and love I have found for food. It's a little bit of science, a little bit of art, and a whole lot of love. Its about experimentation, and self exploration.
Little personal testimony:
Growing up and until about 3 days ago I have hated Macaroni and Cheese. My mom says that she "burnt me out on it" when I was little. But over the last two or three weeks, I found myself doubting my daringness, and puzzled at my own conflict. I love Pasta, and I love Cheese, but why do I hate Mac & Cheese, then it hit me. I hate FAKE cheese. And so for about three days I researched and studied various Mac & Cheese recipes. And decided that I would create a Mac & Cheese that I would really dig. First it has to be Savory, I don't just want melted cheese and pasta, thats unoriginal, and boring. And I want a little contrast, I want it to be creamy, but I want it to have a little bite. I can't tell you what went in to it, I want you to try it yourself. But I can tell you the end result was a Cheddery heaven, with a warm bacon/browned chedder crispy crusty topping. I Love Mac & Cheese, but if it comes in a box, I will rebuke you.
You have to try different things.
Sea Duck, it sounds scary and can be scary. But it can be amazing, if you take the time to make the bird an alcaholic, and then give it a smoking habit. The slow cooking in beer, and then final cook over smoke, with the right sauce and you don't care where it came from, you just hope there is more.
I don't know if there is a point to all this, I know my DR. wants me to stop, but then that may be why we haven't seen each other in a while.

P.S. Anthony Bourdain and Alton Brown are my heros.

TV... Really -October 25, 2008

Once again from Myspace and I should also say that having a baby, solved the problem I describe below.

TV... Really
Current mood:drained
Once upon a time I didn't cohabitate with others. My space was my own, my time was mostly my own, and certainly my decisions were all my own, and the quality of those decisions certainly reflect that, but thats another blog all together. But what I am trying to say is, there was a time I was as independant as a young man could be. I knew how to fill my time, and was use to an empty bed. I realize now that the last year, and then some, has seriously handicaped my ability to self-entertain.
My wife left for a women's retreat at noon today, when I got off work I came home and realized how entirely pathetic I have become. I was completely, and instantly, without cause. I aimlessly wandered into my house, keys falling to the nearest stair. My empty shoes came to rest in perfect footsteps in my entryway. My jacket found the back of a chair, and my ever-rounding-dariare found my sofa. Aimlessly my gaze travelled across white textured wall and blind covered windows. And suddenly, like the title of a movie suddenly appearing on the blank, mental movie screen behind my eyes, a thought formed from the abyss, a question, birthed in pure existentialism "What am I going to do with myself?" In an amazing brevity of seconds, the very things I believed about my existance and independance were being tested, and I felt like a sheep being told to find his way back home. What am I supposed to do without Tina?
I know that at one time I was single, I remember that there were times in my life when, not only was I not married, but there were many times I wasn't even dating. And I don't remember what I did when I was single, I mean I remember, but I don't remember it filling an entire day, you know what I mean?
As time lapsed, and my butt sank further into my sofa, my mind began to panic, and my testosterone took over in complete survival mode, and seemed to shout to the numbing sections of my brain "DO THINGS YOU CAN'T DO WHEN SHE IS HOME!"
My blank stare melted to a growing, grinch like smile. She left me money, I can buy things, but not just anything, things I can't normally get. So I did just that, I went to Safeway and bought sushi, I know not fine cuisine, but I want it every time we go there to buy dinner, and she doesn't like the way it smells. And yes, while I am here writing, the box is still on the coffee table. I finished my last bit of ebi-maki and realized, that only filled a fifteen minute period. NOW WHAT DO I DO? "Rent a movie!" Once again I rush out the door and spend the next twenty minutes at Barb's Video trying to find a movie for a bachelor, panic again sets in, what do I watch, and yet again testosterone to the rescue. Get a violent action packed movie. So I pick The Punisher not because it got great reviews, not because it had any actors of great note, but listen to the title, it says it all, violence, and action.
Well... I watched it... guess what? It was lame. Yes there was action, yes, it was pointlessly violent. I mean I get the plot, I get why, but it was lame, they didn't even attempt to make me WANT to believe the story. I know its based on a comic book, but put some effort into it. Shamed, and desperate for the two hours of my life I will never get back I grabbed my remote control and went to what my wife calls the, "Cable Channels for Men." Discovery and History.
Instantly I am captured by a show called Time Warp no its not a silly sci-fi, but a show on the Discovery Channel dedicated to filming random action related items with very fast digital cameras and playing them all back in slow motion from every angle conceivable. All aimless wondering falls aside. In a matter of frames I am completely en-raptured in the very thing that makes sports worth watching. The instant replay.
Well, I was impressed... for about 3 scenes, and after one episode I have concluded that no one thought this through. Yes replays are fun, yes slow-motion is fun, but how many things can you replay in slow motion and it be very interesting? Yes you can play everything in slow motion, and some things are really cool, some things are exactly as they were before, but really slow.
And then I realized who the target audience is. It hit me, the truth set in like a criminal realizing he was caught. I am exactly the demographic this was designed for. Men who walk in the door and say "What do I do with myself?"
I guess I am just sad that, A) it appears as though my imagination and resourcefulness is waning B) that I am one of those guys who is REALLY easy to entertain and finally C) that the Discovery Channel, the same great folks who brought us Shark Week, Myth Busters, Deadliest Catch, and Dirty Jobs has deamed it appropriate to reduce itself to this level of mindless entertainment. An area better left to the likes of FX, Spike, or late night network television.
The moral of the story is wives, don't leave your husband home alone, we need you here as bad as the kids.
P.S. I have a cold

AGH!!!!!!!!!! THEY GOT ME! Category - Fashion, Style, Shopping

Yep, it used to be on myspace, so this maybe a repeat for you old myspace friends.

Current mood:guilty

OK, so if you look at the category you see Fashion, Style, Shopping; and you have to be thinking to yourself, "In what way is this Kid qualified to write on this subject?" And the very plain and simple answer to your question is, I'm not. Although I did just go Christmas shopping for 9 people and got it all done in under an hour, I doubt efficiency is what most serious shoppers are thinking about and I'm positive it doesn't make me any authority on the subject. No this blog is more about the commercialism jaugernauts that have sucked me into their plot for world domination that only a conspiracy theorist would look for.

And so I start this as many other stories have started.

Once upon a time, every thing was about functionality, to give you a reference this was right after four years of the "every thing is about how cool it is" phase and I was finally broke. I was preparing to move myself to Phoenix, AZ in my Mustang (the final purchase in the "cool" phase) iPods were still relatively new and an mp3 player kept looking like a better and better idea especially after my Alpine CD player died in the mustang during some Dukes of Hazard style driving up in Bear Creek in Anchorage. 4000 miles is a long way to go with no cd player, but I refused to get an iPod, especially for the price. So instead an Uncle of mine got me a $30 mp3 player for Christmas. Well someone should have told me that $30 mp3 player only holds 60 songs and ipod holds a few thousand. Any how first lesson in functionality vs. cool over. Sometimes they go hand in hand (as I write this from my iPod Touch.) Let's get back to that kid in Phoenix. Phoenix is a fairly hot place and it's incredibly appropriate that the city be named for a creature that Bursts into flames. Well fat kids who eat large amounts of greasy In-n-out burger, Jack in the Box 99 cent tacos, boxes of Krispy Kreme doughnuts and sweat like chubby kids on a treadmill need a deoderant that can keep up. I was pretty good with my Degree Shower Clean at the time. My roommate and good friend Chris Corbin used a spray that I hated. Axe, he would spray it on and I was sure he had just used the entire bottle. Well like happens to most procrastinating bachelors, I ran out of pit-stick one day, my only option was use the overpowering axe. It was like introducing someone with an addictive personality to cocaine. I discovered that yes the first sprays were terribly strong but after a few minutes the fragrance had calmed down and was very pleasing. I was, however, battling myself during the introduction period. I couldn't get past the "this product gets you girls" marketing campaign. But it smelled good, and I was getting compliments. Then they intro'd their stick deoderant, which I had to have, and it worked great, people say "man you smell good, what is that?" And you say "My deoderant." Next the body wash, well HELLO it was the natural evolution. And for three years I was hooked, but then the development of developments the Axe Detailer. That's right no more buying girly poofy things for the bodywash. Now you can buy one that is black and red has a manly name and has a soft side and an 80 grit sandpaper side. When it came out it was the first thing I put in my wife's cart in Wally World. I HAD to have it. Today I was shopping at Fred Meyer and saw that they now have shampoo and hair styling products. Needless to say my bathroom looks like an AXE marketing piece (minus the girls throwing themselves at me.) And as I was using the shampoo it hit me, I didn't need shampoo, we have two bottles of different brands in there, they are girly, but still it's shampoo, how picky am I really? I realized they sucked me in. Sure I see the Nivea commercials and think "now there is a grown up product for men that I should try." But do I ever buy it? NO WAY! Why because my products say AXE the instructions have a guy with a girl on each arm. The bottle looks like something from the imagination of Torantino, and I can get matching body wash, deoderant and spray that smells like a dude.