Road Trip #5 – Avon Skin So Soft & Hyde

To illustrate the timeless nature of questions relative to “fit” and Hyde, here’s an excerpted piece I wrote twenty years ago:

“Avon Calling…..” (December 1994)

The hordes of summer tourists scurrying around Maine are often perplexed when they repeatedly find Avon’s Skin-So-Soft prominently displayed on the shelves of our rural country stores. Remembering the old TV ads (A doorbell rings…..“Avon calling!”), they wonder why this particular Avon cosmetic is sold directly in stores. Eventually these tourists (“Folks From Away” are among the nicer labels we give them.) come to discover what Mainers have known for years:  Avon Skin-So-Soft is an excellent insect repellent. 

Thus, Avon is making a skin softener; but people are buying an insect repellent. This irony is analogous to Hyde School.  We offer a comprehensive educational program for personal and family growth; but people often buy a place where they can get their kids straightened out.  (“Fix-it Parents” are among the nicer labels…) 

The fact that we may have helped straighten some kids out (take me, for instance!) is a pleasant secondary consequence of a higher primary purpose: a commitment to personal and family growth.  Although a commitment to family growth can often help straighten kids out, a preoccupation with straightening a kid out does not always translate into a commitment to family growth. 

Some parents seem to suggest, “If you would only increase the DEET content (Diethyl-Meta-Toluamide: the active ingredient in most insect repellents) you’d have a much better repellent.”  We think, “Maybe… But more DEET might also detract from the product as a skin softener.”…   I have come to accept the fact that some will always regard us as an “insect repellent” rather than as a “skin softener.”  After all, there are benefits to using Hyde as an insect repellent, especially in the early days.  (The “potty training” phase, Ken Grant ’72 calls it.)  However, the skin softener is more useful here in Maine, a land of two seasons – winter and Fourth of July.

Onward,  Malcolm Gauld