May 1998
s m u g
compulsion
by Brian Kennedy

*

Viva Vitalis!

Iím not an especially vain person, but Iíve always hated my hair. Itís two (two! two!) heads of hair in one -- on the sides itís baby-fine and perfectly straight, and on the sides itís coarse and afro-curly. If I let it grow for awhile, I look like that guy from The Prodigy after a cheap curly perm. Every six months I have a nervous breakdown and get it all cut off, but that doesnít do any good either; Iím tall and I have big shoulders and a beginnersí beer gut, and with a buzz cut I look a lot less like Ewan MacGregor in Trainspotting than a Kappa Sigma chapter president out for an evening of Coors Light and Soggy Biscuit. Itís not really a look that says ďmeĒ (I hope). Usually I try to compromise with a generic sorta-short Super Cuts special -- I like to think itís sort of early Ď60s retro, but everyone I know says it just makes me look like a failing yuppie.

So whatís a hair-impaired boy to do, besides pray for baldness? The answerís been with us for years, and (surprise!) itís Vitalis hair tonic -- it just took me forever to give in to it.

My first run-in with Vitalis was through the indie rock crowd I ran with for awhile in college -- all those little Sebadoh fans were veritably addicted to the stuff. Iíve always suspected they liked it because it was suitably ironic, not for its inherent hair-management qualities; old-fashioned hair tonic fit in perfectly with their chain-wallet/mechanicís jacket aesthetic. It sort of tainted the stuff for me, since I was kind of on an anti-Irony kick at the time.

The indie rockers gradually ostracized me (never liked Pavement, kept spilling the bong, yadda yadda), and thoughts of Vitalis faded from my mind. I soldiered through the rest of school with the same short, dull haircut I had since eighth grade. Then one day I found myself desperate in a nearby Duane Reede drugstore, desperate for something to make my bad hair good. Vitalis was the only familiar face I saw in the rack of hair-care products; I picked a bottle up and decided to give it a shot, stupid counter-cultural connotations be damned.

And I discovered something -- Vitalis works really, really well. Itís also cheap as hell (about $4 for a six-month supply), compact (no bulky tubes or aerosol cans to deal with) -- and if you ever need anything that burns real good, itís extraordinarily flammable.*

Of course, using Vitalis involves getting over one of the central conceits of Real Guys -- that hair care products of any sort are inherently evil, just like cologne or bikini briefs. To a generation weaned on Flock of Seagulls albums and Miami Vice re-runs, this makes perfect sense; hair that goes crunch hasnít been cool for at least a decade now. Vitalis isnít like Finesse hairspray or Alberto mousse, though. It doesnít pouf hair up, it slicks it down. As in most things, the key here is moderation; just put a light splash in your hand, run your fingers through your hair a few times, and youíre set. Do it right, and youíre hair gets kind of spikey (but in a cool way) -- put on too much, and youíll look like a 1940s Panzer Commander. Thereís a definite knack to using the tonic, but itís a got a short learning curve.

Since discovering Vitalis I can grow my hair any damn way I want to -- if it gets unruly I can just slick it down a bit, if it gets too limp I can just spike it up. Now if I can just do something about those dark circles on my eyes...

*While writing this article, I decided to prove this statement by dousing my sink in Vitalis and dropping a lit match into it. My friends don't call me "Fucking Dumbass" for nothing.

*

briank@smug.com

in the junk drawer:

featurecar
net
worth
chair
bumping
uglies
gun
smoking
jacket
barcode
ear
candy
pie
feed
hollywood
lock
target
audience
scissors
back
issues
dice
compulsionvise
posedowncheese
the
biswick
files
toothbrush
mystery
date
wheelbarrow
and such
and such
hat
blabfan
kissing
booth
martini









     
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