What do Chefs Know about Smelling Sweet?

Riding my bike everywhere saves me money and helps me stay hungry. It also means I'm perpetually sweaty.

A few weeks ago, a woman in an elevator told me how much she wished she could trade in her car for a bike. I assured her she could do it. "Oh, no," she said quickly. "I'm in sales."

Apparently we summertime cyclists aren't exactly presentable. So I was tremendously excited when I received an e-mail from DeOdor Works, offering to send me a new chef-inspired device that could keep me smelling sweet.

According to DeOdor's publicist, chefs have long been in the habit of running their skin against steel to eliminate B.O. This was news to me: All the chefs with whom I've worked -- even the sweatiest and smelliest, who used their vacation days for gastric bypass surgery - used bandannas to wipe away their sweat. I doubt there are many kitchens where a cook could nonchalantly rub up against a steel bar and not become a punchline.

When the patent-pending contraption arrived, it looked exactly like a beefed-up ladies' razor made of stainless steel. According to the absolutely obscene illustrated instructions, which told me where I could put the DeOdor, I was supposed to use the thing while showering.

Since I was planning to spend today on my bike, I used the DeOdor under my arms this morning. The publicist had told me even the DeOdor couldn't stem my sweat: It was designed to eliminate the nasty bacteria that water can't remove.

She was right on that count. At my first stop, a cashier looked at me quizzically: "Have you been swimming?," he asked.

As for my scent, I think I smell the same way I usually do. The trouble with testing a product like the DeOdor is it serves to make me even more socially unacceptable: Not only am I now drenched in sweat, I also keep smelling my armpits. And while I don't really want to ask any strangers to weigh in, I'm pretty sure I don't smell fresh as a bed sheet on a clothesline.

I wanted DeOdor to work, just as I hoped the $50 moon shoes I bought when I was 12 years old really would vault me over the garage, and the magnetic necklace my favorite ballplayer wore would make me a better tennis player. Scams all, it seems. If you're having good luck with the stainless steel solution, that's great. But if you're not already a convert, you might want to save up your money for a more effective solution. Like soap.

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