I never knew living outside the fashion mainstream could be so rewarding.

Sarah and I were (unfortunately) at one of the large local malls this weekend. Our business there required us to walk from a store at one end of the mall to a store nearly at the other end (clever planning by those mall organizers; making us walk by every store in the mall). As we walked along the mall corridors, we started to wonder just which department store had suffered a massive explosion of perfume bottles. The smell was absolutely overpowering. It seemed like nearly everyone under the age of thirty that passed us in both directions exuded an odor that could be best described as “unholy.” As we learned later, the males of the species are partially responsible for this problem. As this column points out, usage of Axe body spray is extremely popular amongst teenagers and young adults and it has a particularly strong scent:> “Thomas, like a bull to a red rag, headed straight for the cans of Axe, squatting like an arsenal of stink bombs on the drugstore shelves.

One by one, he tested the different ‘scents’ — Orion, Voodoo, Apollo, Phoenix — with macho names better suited for Marvel comics heroes or wrasslin’ stars than pheromone babe magnets.

A few squirts later, Aisle 5 looked less like Rite Aid than a World War I trench after a mustard gas attack. “Let’s face it. No one wants to walk through a haze of B.

O. By the same token, no one wants to carve their way through a cloud of airborne chemicals and perfumes as they walk past the front of Pottery Barn.

Where did Moderation go and how do we get it back? If it’s on vacation, we’ll just have to cut that vacation short.

I’m not a body spray user and I don’t play one on T.

V. I don’t own any cologne or aftershave and don’t want to. I use a minty toothpaste, Ivory soap on my skin and hair, a mildly scented deodorant, and that’s about it. At the same time, no one has ever complained to me about my odor.

You probably can’t find six women alive who actually like the smell of an Axe body spray. Heck, you probably can’t find six women alive who don’t have bed memories of horribly misused and abused male cologne in high school or college. It’s just another example of the power of marketing. Marketers somehow convince people that they need a particular stench to cover up their natural scent. Of course, these same people are wearing so many other scents created by the cosmetic industries that their natural scent hasn’t been smelled in public since 1993.

On another note, I was flipping through the newspaper this weekend and I saw that Walgreens is advertising a special on Curious Britney Spears Deliciously Whipped! Body Souffle.

What the Hell is a body souffle?

I know what a regular souffle is. Heck, I think I could even make a souffle if I liked them enough to bother. That doesn’t mean I’m eager to go smearing it all over my body.

What, exactly, separates a body souffle from more prosaic items like lotion? Is it a whipped lotion? Does it actually have egg whites in it like a true souffle? Can it be eaten? Should the user bake him or herself after applying the souffle like one would a normal souffle?

Britney is far from the only transgressor here. A Google search turns up many other products calling themselves body souffles. My guess is that cosmetics companies had trademarked just about every conceivable plant, animal, and biome for their existing products and they needed a new genre from which to draw their names. And what do all people do? Yes, they eat.

This has got to be stopped before I see things like Body Barbeque Sauce, Thigh Tenderizer Rub, and Soy Sauce for Oily Hair on my store shelves.

That assumes, of course, that I could see those products on the shelves through the clouds of heavily perfumed air.