Wednesday, November 10, 2010

COLUMN: Eh, who needs a shower?

You may have heard of the “swag bags” that Hollywood stars get when they attend awards shows, containing tens of thousands of dollars worth of jewelry, electronics and vouchers for luxurious getaways. Being a journalist is sort of like that, except instead of jewelry and electronics, you get giant wipes you can use to clean the sweat off your children “when a shower isn’t feasible.” Or maybe it’s just me who gets those … I’ll have to ask Brian Williams the next time I see him.

Regardless, that’s what I found in my mailbox this week — free “review” samples of “Qwik Shower Gym Class Wipes,” aimed specifically at “active children, tweens and pubescent teens who get soiled, sweaty, stinky and self-conscious.” In other words, all of them, except for the boys ages 5-13, who don’t get self-conscious so much as proud. (“Smell that smell? I made that!”)

I speak from experience on that front, because I have a 9-year-old son who, as has been well documented previously in these pages, is somewhat of an aficionado of unpleasant bodily odors. Tim is sort of like a sommelier, except instead of wine he’s an expert in what comes out of your pores after two hours of playing lacrosse in an outfit that weighs three times your natural body weight.

So I had to admit that he was an ideal candidate to test the Qwik Shower Gym Class Wipes, particularly this past weekend, when he spent an hour running up and down a court for youth basketball “evaluations.” This is the procedure by which coaches put their young players through a series of precise and elaborate drills in order to determine if any of them might, possibly, have heard of a basketball. Tim came home smelling exactly like his elementary school gym, which most local residents agree probably had a worker accidentally sealed up under the floor when it was built in 1972.

Tim was gracious enough to agree to participate in my little test, even though the Qwik Shower wipe, when opened, looked like one of those Wet-Naps they used to give out in Chinese restaurants, except dramatically enlarged, possibly by accidental exposure to gamma rays. Seeing it in its full, outspread glory, it’s hard not to think: If you’re the type of person who sometimes finds your entire body covered in duck sauce, this product is for you.

Tim’s first response when applying the Qwik Shower to his soiled, sweaty, stinky and self-conscious self: “This thing is cold!” And he was right — it might have benefited from a few seconds in the microwave first, although ostensibly if you have a microwave handy, there’s probably an actual shower somewhere nearby.

In general, though, Tim seemed generally fresher and cleaner after wiping down, smelling primarily of the vaguely sterile “slight fresh scent” promised on the packaging — just strong enough to be preferable to the typical little-boy odors, but not pungent enough so that he might be mistaken for something that should have been hanging from the rear-view mirror of a pet owner’s Audi.

As for Tim’s reaction, he was happy to avoid an actual bath, but declared, “If I end up having a rash, I’m suing!” These are words to live by if I’ve ever heard any.

Meanwhile, just when I figured I’d had enough professional exposure to bodily emissions for one week, I got an e-mail with the following subject line: “It’s Booger Season!!” You can tell from the dual exclamation points that this was not meant as simple information but rather as a declaration of catastrophic proportions, like “My Shorts Are On Fire!!” or “The End of the World is Nigh!!”

Turns out it was a release publicizing “Boogie Wipes” and their “Save the Sleeve” campaign, which “empowers kids to … blow their nose, instead of using their sleeve, to wipe away germs.” Somehow I never saw kids with mucous on their sleeves as a protected class in need of some kind of nose-blowing empowerment movement, but just to drive the point home, they included a picture of a 2-liter soda bottle filled with “boogers,” which I have a sinking feeling may be the next item I find in my mailbox.

Not to sound unappreciative, but it seems to me certain Hollywood types could probably use these products even more than I could. So if any of you celebrities (I won’t mention any names, Lindsay Lohan) want to send along some of your electronics and jewelry swag, I’d be happy to send you my Qwik Shower and Boogie Wipes in a fair exchange.

You’re on your own for the duck sauce, though.

Peter Chianca is a managing editor for GateHouse Media New England. Follow him on Twitter at To receive At Large by e-mail, write to, with the subject line “SUBSCRIBE.”

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