Some chase storms, some chase skirts, Adele sings a song where she’s chasing pavements (I have no idea what that’s about), and earlier this month, I was chasing deodorant. It started when I noticed a week after I purchased my preferred brand, Mitchum women’s unscented sensitive skin variety, that I had forgotten that I had tucked away deep in my wallet a seventy-five cents off coupon for my next purchase of this product at Duane Reade.
Duane Reade is a very popular store here in New York City, with over 250 locations, about sixty percent in Manhattan, or one approximately every ten feet north, south, east or west.
For many, including me, they are our go-to pharmacy, a place for health and beauty needs, pet toys, paper products, light bulbs, beer and even, in recent years, sushi. I’ve never eaten their sushi, but I can personally attest that their selection of craft beer on tap is quite good. Duane Reade is such a significant part of the New York City landscape that back in the Nineties when my former significant other, Voom, was a corporate speechwriter for the brokerage firm, Dean Witter, her great aunt blathered to her friends that her grand-niece worked at Duane Reade.
I noticed that my coupon was due to expire on the tenth of March. In the infinity of my naiveté I thought:
Me: Oh good, I have plenty of time.
One night on my way home from The Grind, I stopped off at the Duane Reade closest to my sanctum sanctorum to replenish my deodorant. Unfortunately, that night, they were low on all Mitchum for women products.
Something else I noticed was that Mitchum’s packaging has changed. The new packaging is promoting 48-hour protection and something called “oxygen odor control technology” that ominously “fights odor before it starts”. What does that even mean? Is my deodorant now psychic? Why reformulate a product that was working perfectly fine? I shower daily and I apply deodorant daily. Is it really necessary for me to slather my armpits with a chemical shield that is going to stop odor and wetness for two days straight? If this is even possible, is whatever in that shield safe? I suddenly had this terrifying vision of my sensitive skin reacting adversely to this ridiculously long lasting product leaving me with deep, gaping wounds in the area of my body that formerly housed my armpits. If I am going to request time off from The Grind, I would prefer it is for vacation, not for undergoing emergency hospitalization.
I also noticed that Mitchum is not the only brand of women’s deodorant shilling 48-hour protection. Their competition has gotten on the 48-hour protection bandwagon, too.
Who decided that 48-hour protection is what the consumer wants, much less needs? I certainly was not asked my opinion, but in case anyone is listening: I think this is an idea as ban-worthy as asbestos, DDT and if the stars ever align properly, the Kardashians.
The next evening, I again visited my near-by Duane Reade’s deodorant aisle. The Mitchum stock had been fully replenished with reformulated 48-hour protection products, but I did not see any that were unscented and for sensitive skin.
Over the weekend, I had to run an errand down to West 55th Street. I decided that I would visit every Duane Reade for twenty blocks in search of my deodorant. On this hunt, I found many things.
The one thing I did not find was a single tube of Mitchum women’s unscented sensitive skin deodorant in a single Duane Reade. This was discombobulating.
Not to mention irritating. My coupon was going to expire the next day.
I expanded my search to the many Duane Reades located uptown. Again, not a single store had my deodorant. Finally, completely crazed and disoriented after scouring the deodorant aisles of countless Duane Reades blanketing the West Side of Manhattan, I entered Price Wise on Broadway at 85th Street.
Like Duane Reade, Price Wise is another if you can think of it, they probably have it store. Price Wise was the place where my hunt for the holy grail of deodorants had finally ended in success.
Cue a chorus of voices singing:
Chorus of Voices: Hallelujah!
I remembered that I also needed a box of tissues. I brought my purchases to the cashier. The total came to $5.75. I thought:
I handed over my seventy-five cents off coupon and reached into my wallet for a five. The clerk looked at me and frowned. She spoke sympathetically:
Price Wise Clerk: I’m sorry, honey, this coupon is only good at Duane Reade.