4/02/2010
"What is it about you?"

I'm just halfway through the long weekend and already I feel like I've run out of things to read.

I only have so many magazines to tackle, and all of them have already been tackled several times. You can imagine me holding last month's issue of Esquire, not knowing what to do with it, since I've already read the feature on Fort Hood, and I've already read the feature on Roger Ebert, and I've already learned that women are generally hard to understand, at least according to Anna Torv, whose four-page spread is the only reason I bought the issue in the first place. Which reminds me: I should never scroll down.

So, slumped on the sofa in the living room at forty-five past three, I ended up reading through the ads at the very end of the magazine. You know, the sort that looks cheaply done, the sort that gets sandwiched between the shopping information pages and the little blurbs at the very last page, the sort that sells vacuum cleaners and sporting paraphernalia and, in this particular case, a mail-order bride service. "Men, post your profile free! Let women write to you first! Receive hundreds of letters! Women from Brazil, Ukraine, Philippines" - and then I imagine a maid from one of the swanky subdivisions sneaking into the family computer, browsing through this website, and I feel sad.

One of the ads was for this little bottle of unscented pheromones. You supposedly mix it with your fragrance and wear it daily, and it should last for four to six months. You should not think they're full of bullshit because the product was supposedly created by one of the doctors who discovered human pheromones. I always thought the person was older. And male. Or I'm being a misogynist. Or I fail to remember that I'm reading a men's magazine.

What caught my attention, though, was the testimonial on the ad. This one supposedly comes from a guy who works in the film industry and, naturally, is surrounded by lots of "attractive" women. Yes, he had to point that out. Attractive women.

"A lot of them are touchy-feely, but even those who weren't normally, became touchy-feely. Becky, for example, shocked me. She came up behind me and put her arms around me and said into my ear: 'what is it about you?'"

Maybe these guys are full of bullshit - this testimonial reads too well. Too well, in fact, that I actually imagined the scenario this customer is giving. So this guy's named Jack. He's based in Los Angeles, and he works in the film industry, so he can't look like a geek with no fashion sense. I mean, he's in Los Angeles! If my friends there are to be believed it's full of people who live for appearances. He should, at least, look sharp, maybe in well-coordinate outfits that look effortless but actually took hours, maybe matching outfits or reading something like Esquire.

I guess it's also safe to presume that the Becky girl also looks sharp. No, she can't be the slightly slutty type, the sort who wears cleavage-baring outfits and dark-framed glasses. But she can't be someone as homey-looking as, say, Alia Shawkat. Let's just say she's the sort who constantly holds a clipboard and is slightly pretty - slightly, because you wouldn't give much thought to it until she comes to you and virtually hugs you and goes, "what is it about you?"

Not unlike me, of course. I don't work in an industry surrounded by attractive women - yes, we have our fair share, duh, but it's not a prerequisite. And I can get away with not looking sharp. I can come to work wearing my Doy shirt and nobody will notice me, either because I look too bad to be noticed, or nobody would be there to nitpick my shirt choice, going, "kilala mo ba talaga si Doy Del Mundo?"

But with that setting, would I be able to get the same results as that Jack dude? I'll need a fragrance to mix those pheromones into. Yes, I wear some sort of fragrance to work, although I'm terribly inconsistent with it, and by the time I get to work it feels like I'm not actually wearing anything anymore. And then there's the matter of the ladies coming near me - because the idea of attractive women going near you for no inexplicable reason only happens on television commercials. And I don't think ladies would leap to my desk just because there's something about me. I don't really get along with everyone. How would you expect everyone to suddenly go near you, much more start hugging you like you're a lifeboat and say "ang gwapo mo pala, Henrik, bakit ngayon ko lang napansin?"

In the first place, who is Jack? Is he some dorky figure who never gets any of the action? Is he someone who's pretty good socially but felt he needed the push - his pick-up lines are shit, for example - and suddenly had some little vial of liquid doing all the work for him? Is he attractive? Because really, if the ladies are touchy-feely with him, then there must be something that's there, only not as serious, or as chemical-triggered, as it is post-application. It will not work for me, because I'm not attractive, because I do not look sharp and because nobody is interested in me in the first place. I look yucky even if I'm not. I look like someone who can't break someone's heart because I'm incapable of getting one in the first place. I look like someone who'll stutter my way to oblivion.

Or am I? Maybe I'm a sweet talker. Maybe I do have a way around the ladies. Maybe I do have a sense of respect, or at least courteousness. Maybe I still dress sharp, only with my flabs showing in the worst of places. Maybe I am attractive, or at least vaguely attractive - not in the way these magazines suggest, because they'll tell you not to reveal everything on your blog, and not to put too much salt on your steak, and to have good posture while wearing tailor-made outfits that don't have an off-stripe somewhere. Anything, perhaps, to make me someone that at least Alia Shawkat will notice. And considering she's an actress who played Maeby on Arrested Development, it's going to be a hell lot of work.

That pheromone ad is bullshit.

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