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When the Bra Comes Off, the Day Is Done

10 Apr

by Roger White                                                                              

 

So I saw something on Facebook the other day posted by a friend of a Facebook friend’s mother, who is the friend of a friend-in-law’s friend, and it made sense, so I “liked” it even though this friend of a friend-in-law’s friend isn’t really that friendly to me at all. In fact, he’s a bit of a jerk. Anyway, the post went something like this: “In my house, when the wife’s bra comes off, that means it’s the end of the day.”

Wow. That’s one of those statements that is so right on the money that you thought it was always out there but it took someone to verbalize it for you to realize the profundity. Kind of like how when you first heard the song “Yesterday” by The Beatles, it instantly sounded as if it had always been there, since time immemorial. Those occasions are singular and exceptional. When Paul McCartney reached up into the ether and pulled down the notes and lyrics to “Yesterday,” he was delving into that rarified eternal stream of thought that few have access to yet all mankind knows it’s been tapped into when they hear it. You can just picture cave men and cave women sitting around the tribal fire nibbling at the last remnants of roasted yak meat, and they’re softly singing:

“Yester-ugh…

All my ugh-ugh seemed so far away,

Now it looks as ugh they’re ugh to stay…

Oh, I bel-ugh in yester-ugh…”

 

Or something. You get the picture. Well, it’s the same in my mind with this guy’s epiphany regarding his wife’s intimate apparel. I’ve been cohabitating with female types since I was born—first with a mom and two older sisters, and now with a wife and two daughter units—and I’ve known almost instinctively since I was a toddler dodging discarded support garments that bra removal means, as far as a woman is concerned, the day is officially over and it’s time to kick back.

Now, I can’t claim to know just exactly what goes on inside the female cranium, but, like I said, I’ve been around this species my whole born days, so I have a bit of a notion. Ya know, like how a ranch hand who has been around horses his whole life knows pretty much what a horse is thinking. Hmm, maybe I should rephrase.

You see, I had to wear a tie at a couple of jobs in my sordid past, and I absolutely hated it. Even the clip-ons. It was so restraining, so binding, so…corporate. My thinking has always been that ties are a man’s bra. They’re just there for show and to keep your neck from sagging.

Well, like I mentioned earlier, I can’t claim to precisely comprehend the complex workings of the fairer brain, and, indeed, this was confirmed when I related recently my theorem about men’s neckwear being the equivalent of women’s chestwear. Upon hearing this hypothesis, my dear spouse choked on her mist green chai tea latte and gave me one of those looks like I have cat poo on my head.

So, recently, being the quasi-curious home scientist that I am, I put my theorem to the test. That’s right, I did something I haven’t done since I was eleven and was going through a very short, confusing phase that involved my mom’s sparkly lip gloss and listening to a lot of Wayne Newton. I put on a bra.

I must say, at first it felt reassuringly snug and comforting—like a hug from an old friend. An old, peculiar and sometimes inappropriate friend. Yet after walking around the house and stretching a bit, I began to get it. To be blunt: Bras suck. They pinch, they poke, and this one in particular did nothing for me. It revealed way too much side/chest flab, and I won’t even begin to go into the horrifying man-cleavage difficulty.

So. To wifey and all you female species types out there, I get it. And ties are not a man’s bra. Only a bra could be as uncomfortable and restraining as a bra. So I say to you ladies, “Danke schoen, darlings, danke schoen…”

 

Roger White is a, uh, a human living in Austin, with his recently bewildered spouse, two horror-struck daughters, an obese and gas-addled dachshund, and a cat recovering from Epstein-Barr Syndrome. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com. Or don’t.

Help, I’m Suddenly Single, and I Can’t Get Up, or Down, or Anything!

13 Feb

by Roger White

Operator: “911, what’s your emergency?”

TOS: “Well, um, my wife and kids are gone. I’m not sure what to do.”

Operator: “Gone? How long have they been missing?”

TOS: “Uh, well. They’re not so much missing. They’re just, you know. Gone.”

Operator: “I don’t understand.”

TOS: “You see, my oldest daughter is doing a study abroad semester in New Zealand, and my wife went with her to get her set up over there. They’ve been gone almost a full day now. And my youngest, well, she is away at the University of Arkansas. I’m all alone.”

Operator: “I see. Are you in any danger?”

TOS: “Well. I’m hungry. And I think the microwave is broken. And the washer is making a sound like a wounded coyote. I’m a little scared.”

boil-what

Operator: “Calm down, sir. I need you to remain calm. How long have you been married?”

TOS: “Uh. Twenty-uh. Twenty-six years. Why? The washer’s growling now. I think it’s angry. Oh, God.”

Operator: “Relax, sir. Just breathe. Breathe deeply through your nose. Slow, steady breaths. Has your wife been away for any extended period of time during your marriage?”

TOS: “Huh? I . . . well, no. I don’t think. Uh, wait, she went to visit her sister once a few years ago, but I stayed with relatives then. Why?”

Operator: “Sir, you’re experiencing OFSW. Do you have a paper bag you can breathe into?”

TOS: “OS – what? I’m starting to see spots.”

Operator: “OFSW. Over-Functioning Spousal Withdrawal. Are you drinking liquids? You need to stay hydrated—and remain calm.”

TOS: “Well, I’ve had some beers. That’s liquid.”

Operator: “No, sir, you need water. Drink a glass of water, with nothing else in it. And find a place to sit down.”

all-alone

TOS: “OK. OK, I’m sitting on the floor now. I have the dog’s water bowl. Ralph looks scared, too. He doesn’t look so good.”

Operator: “Ralph? Who’s Ralph?”

TOS: “The dog. He’s looking at me with this panicked expression, like he did when we had ringtail cats in the attic. Take it easy, boy.”

Operator: “Are you OK, sir?”

TOS: “I think. We’re sharing the water bowl now. Ralph was really thirsty. This water tastes like kitty litter.”

Operator: “I need you to listen to me, sir. Do you have anything in the fridge to eat? Vegetables, cheese, any frozen dinners?”

slurp

TOS: “I’m at the fridge now. There are some Hungry Mans in the freezer. The salisbury steak kind. My favorite. But like I said, the microwave isn’t working.”

Operator: “What about the oven?”

TOS: “The what?”

 

Operator: “Never mind. What seems to be wrong with the microwave? Maybe I can help you diagnose it over the phone.”

TOS: “I don’t know! The button and the thing with the deal, when I push it, nothing happens and then I get this beeping warning thing and the light goes off, and, and … I don’t know!”

Operator: “Sir, breathe into the bag. Slowly. Let’s just forget about the microwave for now. Look in the crisper.”

TOS: “The whatter?”

Operator: “Crisper. The crisper, sir. It’s the drawer in the fridge that has vegetables, you know. Green things like lettuce and broccoli.”

TOS: “Green things? Wait, let me look. Oh. Hey, I’ll be darned. So that’s where the carrots are. I thought maybe she bought them fresh every day or something.”

Operator: “OK, good. Take out a carrot and . . .”

TOS: “[Crunch, crunch.] Not the best thing to eat, but it’s all right, I guess.”

Operator: “Did you wash it?”

TOS: “Wash what? Hey, Ralph likes carrots! How ’bout that? I need meat, though. And the beer’s gone.”

Operator: “Are you starting to feel better, sir? How’s your breathing?”

TOS: “Uh oh. The washer’s starting to walk toward me. You should hear this thing. Sounds like a John Bonham drum solo.”

Operator: “You may have overloaded it. You put in just one load, didn’t you?”

TOS: “Well, everything that was dirty. And my coat. I had to stand on the load to get it all in. Wait, I can see suds now. Oh, man, here it co—.”

Operator: “Just try to stay calm, sir. We have an OFSW officer on the way. Sir? Sir?”

TOS: “Bllbbbblb.”

Roger White is a freelance hermit living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a morbidly obese dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr Syndrome. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

Phil at the Alamo and Starbucks on the Moon. Really.

20 Jun

by Roger White

 

So have you been reading lately about the papyrus scroll uncovered by some Harvard professor a few years back? The prof claimed this scroll proved that Jesus had a wife. Yeah. There was supposedly a Mrs. Christ. She apparently didn’t say much, according to the scroll, but she dutifully followed Hubby and the gang around, making sure the Lord washed his Hands after healing lepers and imploring Him to go easy on the water-into-wine business on weeknights. I do believe Mrs. C would be the only person on the planet who could exclaim “Jesus Christ!” and not be accused of blaspheming. She could merely be telling the Almighty to get his Big Feet off the coffee table. (Caps for reverence, of course.)

Jesus' Old Lady

Well, come to find out the scroll was a fake. Some hustler in Florida somehow convinced the Harvard academic that it was the real deal. The tipoff was probably the college-rule blue lines and the three-hole punches found on the papyrus. I guess Ivy League standards aren’t what they used to be.

 

Even though The Gospel According to Mrs. C was proven to be a hoax, it did stir up my dandruff a bit. So I conducted some keen investigative snooping around on my own. And wow. You would scarcely believe what sorts of little-known truths are out there on the interwebs. Herewith, then, are just a few of the Spouseman’s Little-Known Historical Truths Found on the Interwebs (SLKHTFOTI):

  1. John the Baptist was really a Methodist. John, whose middle name was Wesley, actually used the “sprinkling method” with Jesus, and later they had covered dishes and cake. They took a dip in the Jordan simply because it was really hot out that day. (This was the Middle East, you know.) –from http://www.cletusbiblesalesandtractorparts.com
  2. Former Genesis drummer Phil Collins was indeed at the Battle of the Alamo, as he has insisted. Two sketchings—from two different witnesses of the famous siege—have come to light, both of which show a bald man with rimless spectacles and a baseball cap peering over the The Philimofront wall of the old mission. In one sketch, he appears to be holding a flintlock rifle, but in the other he’s holding what look to be nylon-tipped drumsticks. Additionally, as Santa Anna began his assault and the Mexican buglers played “El Degüello,” which signaled that no quarter was to be given to the Alamo defenders, Texican defenders responded with a rousing chorus of “In the Air Tonight.” –from http://www.larrythemystic.com
  3. When astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first walked on the moon in 1969, they discovered several alien artifacts—all evidence of which has been kept secret by NASA ever since. A deep-net website run by an anonymous former NASA restroom cleaning technician contains a grainy image of what appears to be an alien drinking vessel held in Aldrin’s hand. On the vessel is a bizarre inscription—ΔÇ ξ  ⊗⊇⇔  ∂♥♦∧∧—which has been translated by cryptographers as the Martian equivalent of “Starbucks.” –from http://www.interstellarjanitor.com

moonbucks

There’s more, but I have a home and a family.

 

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that we had a couple of winners from the previous edition’s Quizzical Quotes Contest #16A: Mr. Leonard Baumel, who opted not to share his mailing address with me (and can you blame him), so he forfeited his rights to a goody package; and one Kathy Berry, who did share her mailing address, so Kathy will be receiving some terrific oldspouse parting gifts, an old jury summons, some overdue parking tickets, and whatever else I can scrounge from the junk drawer.

 

I could take up a lot of space and give you the answers to the QQ quiz, but if you didn’t happen to read the contest questions from the last edition or you don’t care a quarter of a whit, then who gives a rat’s patoot. If you do give a rat’s patoot and are burning for the answers, you can e-mail me at roger.white@tasb.org. Put the words “Rat’s Patoot” in the subject line so the Spouseman will know it’s not spam or more naughty photos from that scary lady in Vermont.

 

Until next time, kids. Keep the freak flags flying and don’t cut your hair unless absolutely necessary.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a morbidly obese dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr Syndrome. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com. Or not.

 

Andrew Tackles Yak Parts–and a Letter from Ralph

10 Aug

by Roger White

So I’m parked in the den the other day, sprawled on my comfy couch, watching my favorite TV show not shot in black and white or from the 1960s—that being “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern”—when I notice Ralph the dog strolling by with something in his mouth.

I’m in a state of continual amazement, by the way, at the things this guy puts in his mouth—Andrew Zimmern, not Ralph the dog. Have you ever watched this Andrewshow? Andrew’s job, apparently, is to travel the world, find every culture’s most unusual and/or disgusting food, and eat it. He’s ingested everything from pig brains, camel head, and cow rectum to just about any and all arachnids and nightcrawlers known to mankind. He’s also consumed the “man parts” of just about every earth creature on four legs. Yeah.

Two of the most repulsive things I’ve ever seen Andrew scarf down, however, were something in the Philippines called balut—fertilized duck eggs, complete with half-formed baby duck tendons and feathers and appendages—and a fetid, rotten fish dish in Alaska called stink head. I think I could smell this stuff wafting balut oohup through the television. Stink head is exactly what it sounds like: fermented fish heads dug up after decaying in the ground for weeks and served on a platter with a side of botulism. To quote Mr. Z, “I’m never eating that again as long as I live. That’s really, really harsh. Ammonia, rotted flesh, spoiled onions. All these flavors come to mind.”

But Andrew does get to tour the planet on the show’s dime. And who else can say that they’ve eaten the testicles of the native species of every continent on the globe? OK, let’s leave that one alone for now.

Anyway, not the point. I’ve been told on more than one occasion that I tend to ramble in this forum. But come on, people, that’s my schtick! Just trying to keep the conversation lively.

So I interrupt my watching Andrew tackle fried yak penis in China to reach down and see what Ralph the dog dropped near the couch. It looks like a note.

It is a note, scrawled simply but legibly:

“Deer Dad,

I luv you and Mom like you were actual dogs, and you are extreemly good to me, but some issues I must bring to lite. They are the following:

Ralphie1. I reelly hate it when you get impatient when you take me out to the yard to “do my bizness,” as you so quantely put it. Pooping on command is no picnic—and yelling at me when I go in the house becauz you haven’t taken me out in six hours doesn’t help any eether.

2. Wouldn’t you be fritened of a cat that was bigger than you? Max is si-cotic, man (sp? I don’t have google). Pleez stop telling me to “man up,” whatever that means, and get Max therapewtic help with his anger issues.

3. Pleez refrane from tugging on me to get me to stop smelling something when you take me on my walk. This is my time; this is me reading the sunday paper. Besides, did you no that we dogs possess up to 300 million old-factory recepters in our noses, compared to about six million in you humans? And the part of a dog’s brain that is devoted to analizing smells is, praportionally speaking, 40 times greater than yours. Chew on that.

4. Why yell at me when I bark at the cable or peezza delivery guy? I don’t know these guys. If you have somebody coming over, let me know, will ya?

5. And listen, I have gas just like you, so there’s no call for scolding me when it happens. Yours don’t smell like rozes, eether, ya know. And this whole blaming me when you know you did it routine? Getting purty old.

I love you guys, serioshly, so pleez take this in the spirit intended. And pleez pass this note on to Mom. Luv, Ralph the dog.”

Damn. I didn’t know Ralph could write. His spelling could use some work, however.

 

Roger White is a freelance human living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely spousal human, two precocious offspring humans, a very obese but mannerful dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com. Or not.

 

Of Asian Delicacies and the Idiom Tedium

16 Mar

by Roger White

My mother-in-law loves authentic Chinese food, so when we treat her to dinner, she almost invariably chooses First Chinese Barbecue, way up on North Lamar in far North Austin. It’s so far north you’re practically in Waco. You can’t get much more dead ducksauthentic than First Chinese Barbecue; as you walk in you’re greeted by rows of dead, naked ducks hanging like John Wilkes Booth’s gang at execution. The aroma of spices and meats is practically intoxicating, and the menu’s mostly in what I presume is Chinese, with some hints about what you’re ordering in English. I’m never quite sure if I’m ingesting a pig, a chicken, or some other roasted creature, but I must say it is all quite scrumptious.

No, First Chinese Barbecue did not cut some sort of free-meal deal with me to write this, but I will tell you that the dried fresh squid with black bean sauce is out of this world. (Is that good, Mr. Run?) Again, that’s First Chinese Barbecue. Far North Lamar. Ask for the Oldspouse Special.

Anyway, the dinner is only half of the evening for our Bubbie. Dear mom-in-law then likes to head next door to the MT Supermarket. This store, if you’ve never been, is the Asian version of a Walmart Supercenter. It’s a 100,000-square-foot bastion of the most amazing and unbelievable foodstuffs any Texan has ever seen. I presume these yummyitems are foodstuffs. In this era of PC politeness and easily hurt feelings, I’m trying to tread lightly here, OK, but not in my wildest imagination can I conjure a gastronomical use for, say, pork rectum, pork uterus, or fresh chicken feet.

And on just about every aisle you’ll find small armies of robotically waving ceramic cats. Quite unsure of what a robotically waving ceramic cat has to do with Asian groceries, I looked it up and found that these are actually a Japanese thing. Called maneki-neko (which sort of translates into “beckoning cat”) these oddly friendly felines are considered good luck talismans. I don’t know. I have a real cat, and whenever he starts to wave at me like that it usually indicates an impending ambush.

There are also rows upon rows of sweets, too, both prepackaged and freshly made. These aren’t your typical kitty hellocandies and cakes, mind you. You have chocolate and strawberry Pocky Sticks, Green Bean Ice Bars, Purple Mochi Balls, and all sorts of squishy treats with names like Lychee Jelly Cup and Poo Poo Variety. Keeping the freshly rendered pork rectum in mind, I opted to pass on the Poo Poo Variety.

With this less-than-appetizing terminology stuck in my cranium, I got to thinking. How many other marketing words and slogans—perfectly appropriate and appealing in their native tongue—somehow fail to translate? So I hopped on my google horse, and here’s what I found:

  • It seems that the Pepsi slogan of some years back—“Come Alive!”—actually translated in a certain Chinese dialect into “Make Your Ancestors Come Out of the Grave!” That Pepsi packs a punch.
  • Coors once used the motto “Turn It Loose!” to ramp up sales, but apparently this hip saying translated into “Suffer from Diarrhea!” in some Spanish markets.
  • Pee ColaWhen good ol’ Coke was introduced overseas, some Chinese dialects rendered “Ke-kou-ke-la,” which was about as close to Coca-Cola as they could get, into “Bite the Wax Tadpole.” Yum.
  • When Kentucky Fried Chicken made the leap across the big pond, their slogan “Finger-lickin’ Good” came through in Chinese as “Eat Your Fingers Off.” Ouch.
  • The American Dairy Association, pleased with the hugely popular “Got Milk?” campaign, was flabbergasted to find when it exported the saying to Mexico, its initial translation appeared as “Are You Lactating?”
  • If Green Giant brand foods wondered why their first forays into the Arab markets didn’t go as planned, it may have been that the Arabic terminology for naughty soup“In the Valley of the Jolly, ho ho ho, Green Giant!” came across as “This is the Land of the Intimidating, uh uh uh, Green Ogre!” No Ogre Brand Peas for me, thank you.
  • Ah, and here’s a classic, from the days of the Ford Pinto. Seems that the braintrust of the Henry Ford folks couldn’t understand why they failed to move any of their hot, new Pintos in Brazil when they first put them on the market. Only after the fact did they discover that the word “pinto” is Brazilian slang for “tiny male genitals.” Yoiks. The Ford guys quickly and as discreetly as possible switched the car’s moniker in their Brazilian dealerships to Corcel, which means “Horse.”

Knowing all this—and understanding that the term in question surely means something delectable in the Asian world—I still can’t picture myself biting into anything of the Poo Poo variety.

Fart BarRoger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

 

 

Pondering My Mortal Coil Options: Boxed or Broiled

16 Feb

by Roger White

 

I think it finally hit me how old I am this past weekend. Not so much that the wife and I packed it in and went to bed at 8 p.m. on a Saturday night, and not even because we had both spent that whole day doing little more than picnicking in the sun (including a nap)—and were still exhausted before the prime time TV shows got rolling. No, I believe the realization of my impending decrepitude smacked me upside la cabeza when the wife and I began seriously debating burial versus cremation plans. For our own selves, that is.

Friendly Funeral Fellow

Yes, the big decision: the Perpetual Dirt Nap or the Oversized Oven.

It occurred to me as we pondered the possible fates of our earthbound carcasses that I’d never really given it much thought. But I figure since I’m not leasing out this anatomical apartment anymore by the time they put a twist-tie on my big toe they can pretty much do what they want with the ol’ hide. They can boil me down and pour me into so many jars of Nutella, for all I’m going to care. I may not be a top-selling flavor, but hey. It would be somehow comforting to know that I’m living on as a snack spread and that folks from Nantucket to Nacogdoches have jars of me in their pantry.

me as nutella

Anyway, as Sue and I delved deeper into the topic du terminàl, we came to a bit of a snag. A corpse conundrum. A deceased dilemma. A cadaver quand—OK, I’ll stop. Despite my self-professed indifference regarding the destiny of my mortal coil, I found myself leaning toward the traditional tacklebox treatment. I like the idea of me being gussied up, laid out in my Sunday best inside a cozy carton, and having everybody file by my formaldehyde-stuffed face to tell me what a great guy I was. Some may have to stretch the truth a bit, but what will they care? I’m dead.

Now, Sue, on the other hand, prefers the kiln. She sees herself in a nice vase on someone’s mantel, silently scolding a great granddaughter or two to dust the den for heaven’s sake.

Though I can’t envision the eternal me as a pile of cigar ash, the wife may have a point. Not to wax morbid, but have you laid a loved one to rest lately? Your standard funeral—with the rectangular real estate and the coffin and the headstone and the viewing and services and eulogy and graveside wailings and all—costs more than a brand-new jet ski, nicely equipped. I’m talking over $10k, thats all folksmy friends. Although I did notice that Sea-Doos were on sale the other day for a pretty good discount, but you have to join the credit union. Wait, funerals. Right.

Here’s another thing about the whole burial option: If you go that route, have a trusted compadre accompany you to the funeral home—because if you haven’t endured this before, beware, my pallbearing pal. Funeral parlor people are car salesmen incognito. They may speak softly and smile and nod more compassionately than the guys at Big Al’s Auto Emporium, but they are cut from the very same cloth. The things these people will try to sell you—at a time when they know you are at your most vulnerable—would make Great Aunt Eunice roll over in her “value-added” grave. They’ll insist that if you really loved ol’ Eunice you won’t settle for a run-of-the-mill pine box. You’ll of course want the Cadillac of coffins, lovingly handcrafted from the finest mahogany and appointed with cashmere pillows, tuck-and-roll upholstery, the sincerity-package extra legroom, ivory handles, and whitewalls. Get this, they’ll even tell you that you need to line the coffin with a protective seal that will keep your dearly departed from moisture, rot, or nasty invasive weevils and such. That’s correct, they’ll try to sell you a casket gasket. It’s the height (or depth, I guess) of absurdity. Isn’t the whole point of committing your bod into the ground so that you will be absorbed back into the bosom of Mother Earth?

There’s a host of accessories like this that the smiling mortuary man will gently present to you as a means to show Aunt Eunice how much you truly cared. My advice? Picture yourself at the car salesman’s desk at Big Al’s—that protective seal on your aunt’s casket is nothing more than the rustproof undercoating they want to put on your Buick. Forget it.

tasteful

It’s like Joe Pesci said in Casino just before they played baseball with his noggin—always the dollars, always the dollars. Shee, maybe the wife is onto something. I guess I wouldn’t mind being vacuum-packed into a beer stein perched over the fireplace. As long as I can face the TV.

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

Pondering Life’s Little Scams, Schemes, and Swindles

7 Jul

by Roger White                                                                              

 

So I was standing in the shower attempting to loofah my stretch marks when one of wifey’s standing army of haircare products amassed on the shower shelf caught my eye. It was a shiny, dazzling thing, the color of polished gold. The container’s meant to grab your attention, you see, designed to stand apart from the plethora of shampoos and such that crowd the grocery shelves. Marketers never cease to amuse. Gold equals value, see, so this shampoo must be head and shoulders above the rest. Ouch, that was unintentional. So now that the golden suds caught my eye, I looked closer. I had to laugh—more superlatives and blatant hyperbole were crowded onto this little bottle of bubbles than a Barnum & Bailey circus poster.

photo

“Advanced,” “NEW,” “Total Repair,” “EXTREME,” “Emergency,” “Recovery,” “RAPID FIBER RENEWAL” (whatever that is)…and on and on. It’s as if the company’s advertising guys looked up every glowing adjective in the dictionary and simply pasted them all on the bottle. I snickered again, but then I realized, hey, it worked. It’s in my shower, ain’t it?

 

I pointed out all the grandiose gobbledygook to my wife when I exited the reading room and asked her if it was indeed the best haircare product she’d ever used. “Eh,” she said with a shrug. “It’s not that great.”

 

Ah, yes. This revelation got me pondering all the little cons and exaggerations and out-and-out flimflammery that we deal with on a daily basis. I believe we first got the idea that the scam was on as we moved from adolescence into young adulthood. This was about the time we witnessed the gradual, ever-so-subtle phenomenon known as the incredible shrinking product. Remember? Food staples such as hamburgers and candy bars slowly lost their heft over time, almost like magic.

 

gadzooksThe Big Macs and Hersheys of our youth didn’t merely appear larger back then because we were tykes; they’ve been carefully trimmed over the years. Picture your Hershey bar on a fulcrum, like a teeter-totter of corporate trickery; price goes up, product size goes down. Eventually, I suppose we’ll be shelling out $19.99 for a chocolate nibble the size of an unwell raisin. In that vein, corporate candy minds have already given us the “fun size” bar. Fun size. That’s marketing speak for “you pay us regular-size price, and we’ll give you tiny crumbs in a colorful, exciting package. Yay! Fun!”

 

The Mars Company did some more snipping just recently, shaving the size of its Snickers and Mars bars—merely for health reasons, mind you. “Having taken product reformulation as far as we can for now without compromising the great taste,” a company spokeslizard said, “we have reduced the portion size of Mars and Snickers to bring down the calories.” Right.

 

The soft drink guys did it, too, long ago—under the guise of moving to the metric system. If you’re old enough to recall, family-size cokes once came in one-gallon containers. Touting their shift to the sleek three-liter size bottle as a consumer-friendly move to a more efficient, easier-to-tote container—at the same price!—the cola industry failed to mention that customers were now getting precisely .793 of a gallon of coke for the gallon price. But what’s .207 of a gallon between friends?

 

It isn’t just at the grocery store, though. The scam is everywhere. Corporate lizards abound. If you don’t pay close attention to your wireless service bill, for example, you’ve probably been crammed. We were crammed recently, but thank goodness the wife caught it before it went on too long. In fact, T-Mobile just got slammed by the Federal Trade Commission for cramming. Sounds physically painful, I know, but cramming hits you only in the pocketbook. It’s the practice of stuffing hidden fees into your bill for services you didn’t request—hence the ugly terminology. It’s often difficult to spot the hidden fees because the wireless companies will not itemize them; rather, they’ll show up as “Use Charges” or some other ridiculous, nebulous category.

 

The list goes on. Premium gas, college textbooks, bottled water, anything and everything that movie popcorn manshows up on your hospital bill, automotive cabin air filters, shipping and handling (what the hell is handling, anyway?), hotel taxes, cable activation fees, time shares, movie snacks. It’s a mine field out there, people. It’s a dirty, slimy mine field full of lizards, to mix a metaphor or three.

 

I think I need another shower. Hey, this shampoo looks good…

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.