Monday, November 5, 2012

Spray It, Don't Say It

This morning, as I was slathering on deodorant, I noticed something unusual about the can. Right under the cap are the words, "Keep can upright while spraying".

I thought that odd, considering that I have yet to meet anyone who would hold the can upside down while applying deodorant. Out of curiosity I tried it to see what would happen. For my effort, I received a slightly pulled a bicep muscle -and still couldn't press on the nozzle hard enough to release the product.

Now, I'm not sure what the company's marketing folks were thinking when they proposed the advice on the can. Perhaps a focus group was called in and questions were raised regarding individual deodorant application idiosyncrasies. Or maybe experiments were conducted among potential customers. The odoriferous were randomly assigned to control and experimental groups. Jerry, over in the control group, was instructed to "hold the can upright while spraying" while Myrtle was given no such direction. Myrtle, trying her dandiest to get the odor killer out of that frustrating can, tried spraying it upside down and sideways in a wide variety of directions, to discover that only in the upright position would the deodorant actually escape from the can. Thus learned, the discovery could then be shared with millions of aromatic individuals by means of advertising the data under the cap.

The problem, from an experimental perspective, would be one of methodology. Sure, such experimentation could yield significant results. Ah, but then a confounding variable pops up. If someone needs to be instructed to "keep can upright while spraying", the odds are pretty dang high that they don't buy the product. For that matter, the lettering is so small that an electron microscope can only make out the consonants. Instructing consumers with regard to proper product handling while releasing that wonderful "sport scent" is a little over the top.

I think what miffed me at the outset was that I had already sprayed my right armpit, and was all set to do the left side, when I noticed the advice. Holding the can with perpendicular precision proved somewhat of a chore; after approximately thirty-nine years' worth of practice, I had long assumed that "almost" upright would suffice. Turns out that there is only one true "upright" position, which makes me wonder whether I'm going to have to go for remedial training. Perhaps the manufacturer has a weekend seminar complete with workshops and a continental breakfast. I can hear it now: "Come on, Adcox. The rest of the group is spraying both pits in a perfect vertical approach, and you're STILL holding the can at an eighty degree angle."

And there I'd be, struggling for that last ten degrees necessary for maximum spray pattern effectiveness while my cohort was on the other side of the room receiving their certificates of spray deodorant mastery and complimentary cans of what is actually a very good scent-preventer. Eventually I'd get the hang of it, though. I'm easily distracted. Knowing that someone was already eating an orange would interfere with my focus on keeping the can upright; how can a guy concentrate and practice the oft-overlooked art of deodorant application while Forsythe is already digging into that great breakfast provided by the corporation?

I'd be happy to forget the whole mess. Just sell me something that makes me smell nice. Don't think it's necessary to tell me how to press a nozzle, for crying out loud. I've been doing that since I was seven and spraying model car paint on the old refrigerator dad kept in the basement.

Spray it, don't say it.

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