A few weeks ago I received this email:
“Introducing Erox, a new unisex attraction fragrance, proven to increase feelings of arousal, excitement, and flirtiness in both female and male users… [Erox] contains a combination of pheromones, and a new revolutionary attraction compound called ER303… [Erox has] been clinically proven to increase feelings of confidence, social warmth and friendliness… I would be happy to send you a sample...
This was my reply:
“Has Erox found a way to turn vodka into an aerosol? Obviously I would love to sample it…”
I’m willing to try anything once—except heroin, or sex with men, or bungee jumping in Mexico—okay so there are a lot of things I won’t try, but pretty much anything that claims it will make me more successful with women is on my “yes list.”
Erox emailed me several studies supporting the science behind the product. I did not read these. I hang out with PhD candidates in chemical oceanography and am overly critical of “scientific studies.” However, I'm also a firm believer in the magic of chemicals, like vodka, so I was willing to believe Erox could turn me into a sexual dynamo.
“This smells expensive,” my buddy Mark said after we dusted ourselves with Erox to wander through a crowded block-party in downtown St. Petersburg.
“Maybe that’s what makes it work.”
“It smells like Dolce & Gabbana for women,” he said.
“How do you even know what that smells like?”
While Erox may not be the manliest scent, it is certainly sexier than my preconceived notion of pheromones (i.e. the stench of the laundry bin in my high school locker room).
Whatever the case, my first test of Erox failed. I had been sliding through the crowd, waiting to see if any woman I brushed up against would picked up the scent and give chase. The most attention I received was a smile from a dude I mistakenly thought was a woman from behind. Also, I'm pretty sure that if I kept up this trial method I would be arrested for frotteurism.
Here’s the thing. Pheromones most certainly played a larger role in human attraction before the advent of indoor plumbing, soap, shampoo, deodorant, cologne, and whatever body spray is. Now our senses are clogged with these chemicals—not to mention the smell of beer, cigarettes, and street food swirling around at the block-party. Scents are subtle and in the shark-tanks of bars and clubs, subtle does not work when it comes to meeting people.
So, I did the obvious thing. I started walking up to groups of women and asking them to smell my wrist. Had Erox given me the confidence to approach? I don’t know, but I do know that it works as a great conversation opener.
“We need a second opinion on something,” I would say. “What does this smell like to you?”
“What is it?” they would inevitably ask.
I usually went with the truth because, isn’t everyone curious about pheromones? The key was not to say that I purchased the product—women are distrustful of men who revert to chemicals as a means of seduction. I said I had been given a free sample and I had a bet going with Mark to see if it worked. For others I simply said it was a new cologne.
Their opinions on the scent were mixed, but inevitably my wrist got passed around the group, subconsciously making me the axis at the center of their social circle.
Several interesting exchanges resulted. For instance, we learned that four out of five Asian women in one group did not think Erox made Mark or me more appealing. We also learned which bar they were headed to next, as they invited us to go.
The men in the groups we infiltrated always thought Mark and I were idiots at first. But, by the end of the conversation they asked if they could have a few squirts of Erox to test it out for themselves.
My favorite reaction went like this.
“That smells good,” a cougar said. She then pushed my wrist into the nose of her female friend, who was just as hot and just as drunk as the first woman. “Doesn’t that smell sexy?”
The two women then began kissing each other, aggressively. I waited for an invitation to join. I waited a long time.
Mark even approached a random girl (granted she was a cigarette promo-girl, but still). Unfortunately she kept trying to convince us that even though she was a real "model" she wasn’t dumb. I told her I had flunked out of a community college and was pursuing my dream of becoming a sock model. She asked if I had an agent. Mark and I decided to walk away. Mark is a picky asshole. He likes women who are both attractive and intelligent.
I tested Erox a few more times that week. Some odd things happened, but two events stick out as particularly strange.
I volunteered to man the bar at one of Creative Loafing’s events. Bartending is one of the few times women will actively approach a guy they don't know. I didn’t even have to come up with conversation openers. Bartending is its own pickup line. At the night’s end, a woman who I had barely spoken to slipped me a folded piece of paper (See the photo). I consider myself an attractive enough man, but when I get a woman’s number, I usually have to ask for it—and never before has a woman taken the time to illustrate the paper she wrote her number on.
The second oddity occurred the night after the block-party when I was drinking with Matt. We always stop by a certain bar in downtown St. Pete to see our mutual girlfriend: a bartender named Boobs McGee. She has this name for two reasons: 1.) we've never spoken to her long enough to learn her real name, and 2.) even if she told us her name our brains would be too consumed with thoughts of her on a trampoline to remember it. Matt and I have had multiple drunken debates with strangers about the authenticity of McGee’s boobs. As a result we had a standing bet to see which one of us had the balls to ask if her boobs were real. This dare was all the more daunting considering that McGee looks like she is constantly on the verge of throwing a beer in someone's face (her disposition is a way of deflecting all the attention her boobs invite).
When she returned with our drinks, I asked her to describe her celebrity crush (I wanted her to subconsciously link her feelings of attraction with me). After chatting for a time, she left to take another guy's order. To Matt's and my surprise she returned moments later and asked, “What were we talking about?”
There are plenty of explanations for what I said next. I could have been nervous, my brain could have been experiencing a loss of blood, or maybe Erox was working its magic. Whatever the case, this is what came out of my mouth:
“Boobs,” I said, followed quickly by, “Dudes. We were talking about boobs and dudes.”
McGee did not shy away from the conversation. In fact, she even started juggling her boobs around and talking about how much she liked to play with them. Matt kicked me under the counter and I went in for the money question.
“So are those real or…?”
“Oh no,” she said, smiling. “I had them done.”
Take from all of this what you will. Maybe Erox actually does make everyone who smells it more sociable. Maybe it’s just a good conversation starter. Maybe a little artificial enhancement can be a wonderful thing every once in a while.
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