We were prepubescent boys excited about deodorant. I could present it as a metaphor for our burgeoning manhood, but that would be a lot of David Copperfield crap, as Holden Caulfield might say. We were superficially excited about deodorant. We were showing off the brands our mothers got for us, Right Guard, Speed Stick, Old Spice. When my turn came I called our Arid Extra Dry. When everyone laughed, I suddenly realized what I felt I should have known all along: I was using the wrong deodorant. My first clue should have been that it came as a cream in a dish and you had to dip your fingers in and rub it into your armpit. Had anyone ever done that in a commercial? I suppose I should forgive my mom; it could have been Lady Mitchum.
Experiences like these shape us. We conform or we harden or we diverge or we wilt away. Whatever our reactions, a part of us is left wondering who, instead, we might have become. Like Winger told Troy in season one of Community. “You stop wearing [your letterman jacket] to keep them from making fun of you or you keep wearing it to show them you don’t care. Either way, they’re in your head.”