Sniffing Out Male Vanity, Perils of the Pines, Etc. takes

OK, so men are brutes. But they’re fragrant brutes, comparatively speaking. A report by The NPD Group argues that the men’s fragrance category “is going mainstream.” Sales of “prestige” scents rose 6 percent last year, to a total of $960 million, and continued to climb at the same pace in the first half of this year. In part, the increase reflects a higher frequency of usage: Half the men who use the stuff now dab it on every day, and 34 percent do so twice a day. Moreover, 9 of 10 male fragrance wearers now “choose and buy it themselves,” in contrast to the old practice of letting a wife or girlfriend do it for them.

Stereotype-debunking of the week: Americans are not a brassy people. Rather, they’re a stringy people. For reasons best known to itself, the Zogby polling firm asked people to pick the instrument section they most enjoy hearing in a “full orchestra.” The strings won hands down, with 39 percent of the vote. The brass section was a distant runner-up, at 20 percent.

A contact sport like football is bound to yield injuries—even if the contact is limited to a player’s backfield and the team bench. An ad in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ game-day program assures us the UPMC Health System is ready for any eventualities. Thus, while the player in the clean uniform does not suffer the torn ligaments or dislocated shoulder of his colleagues, who’s to say he won’t require medical attention for the splinters he collects in riding the pines? MARC USA of Pittsburgh created the ad.

Parents routinely denounce television as a bad influence on kids. That means they have strict rules on viewing, right? Wrong. Polling by Statistical Research Inc. found 46 percent of 8-17-years-olds saying they have “no adult rules” about TV time. Among the 54 percent whose viewing is restricted, 24 percent cited a “no adult content” rule; the same percentage are limited to a certain number of hours in front of the tube. Sixteen percent must abide by a “no violence” rule.

It’s not as if divorce has gone out of style, with the number of breakups clicking along at a million or so a year. But has the de-stigmatization of divorce passed its peak? In a Yankelovich poll conducted for Time/CNN, people were asked whether parents should stay together for the sake of the kids if the marriage isn’t working. Sixty-two percent of respondents said the couple shouldn’t; 33 percent said they should. Lopsided as that permissive majority may seem, it’s a noticeable drop from a 1981 Time poll in which 21 percent said the parents should stick together and 71 percent said they shouldn’t. Amid research challenging the modern dogma that divorce is no big deal for kids, the current poll found 42 percent saying kids are “almost always harmed” by a marital breakup. People on the left tend to regard the anti-divorce backlash as a plot byfamily-values conservatives. It’s quite as likely, though, that divorce looks worse in a Clinton-era political culture that praises or condemns every policy according to its purported effect on “the children.”

Is 24-hour emergency roadside assistance a big selling point for new cars? So one might suppose. But we gather otherwise from a survey by J.D. Power and Associates among owners of 1- to 3-year-old cars whose warranties include the benefit. Just half these people knew they were entitled to such service. Owners of luxury cars were more likely than nonluxury owners to be aware of their emergency coverage.