Thinking back, the day started off a fairly boring actually – which, in turn, might make this an equally boring anecdote opener, but bear with. You see I didn’t know stumbling through the local high street, letting my mind glaze over miscellaneous, egotistical advertising like soulless factory line worker #4 in the Krispy Kreme factory going through the motions, would lead to a vivid journey of realisation into my own psyche. It was a deal I wasn’t aware they apparently give away at Costa Coffee with every blueberry muffin, which at some point it had become customary (nay socially required), to eat with a knife and fork. Yeah, discoveries could be made in the tiniest, most unassuming of places and like a curious toddler crawling around their single mother’s cupboards, anything uncovered could potentially leave me shaken.
“…And so the family wore red to honor the memory of the blood that stained the streets the day their father was killed by Microsoft.”
The plan for the afternoon: meet a friend for coffee. I don’t often find myself meeting for mid-afternoon coffee. It feels a very ‘business’ thing to do that only regular suit wearers, art exhibit curators and the cast of Made in Chelsea partake in. A world away from my partially-posh-post-pseudo-art student lifestyle. But this was more of a reacquaintance hookup, with a friend I hadn’t had the pleasure of being around in years. And we had to do something that provided enough opportunity for chat while also giving colourful yet meaningless artwork on the walls to distract enough while thinking of new topics if conversation ever ran flat. So coffee at 3. Eating and drinking seems to be the only thing that entertains someone in their 20s. After several hours thought I could only come up with Xbox and STI distribution; and those commonly take place indoors. Plus I have it on good knowledge that women tend to fake interest in one while interest diminishes in the other. Something I at least don’t want to happen until after I’ve stared at a Jackson Pollock for 24 seconds wondering how Ollie Locke does it.
On the way I passed an advert for some mouthwash. Not the usual spiked speech bubble in the comic book life of the professionally-petulant-post-pseudo-art student but there was a statement present that left on a bit of a cliffhanger. Down the bottle it read: ‘Colgate Total’
“Yep, fine.” Next, ‘Pro Gum Health’
“Well, we all love a bit of snappy buzzword product embellishment, okay.” And then, ‘Daily Mouthwash’
“I see where you’re coming from, tell the people what it is. Good idea.” Last line, ‘Alcohol Free’
“…wait, what? This bottle of mouthwash comes without alcohol? Is that really of any importance? You don’t see adverts about dog food not containing traces of Alexandra Burke albums or Neutrogena never requiring turtle turds in any of their formulas, so why make a tenuous leap disconnecting vodka shots from Colgate FluoriGard? Has advertising really gotten to such a point where-”
…unless. Mouthwash has always contained alcohol and I’ve just never known. Suddenly, in 2 seconds, i’d gone from reading a mouthwash poster to undergoing states of denial and anger. I’d have accepted this new realisation if an imagination more senseless than the continued popularity of scripted reality shows wasn’t present, but instead I entered a new stage. Let’s call it: bargaining.
Oh look at him. Being all healthy, and Alcohol Free, and TOTALLY liberated from that oral cancer scare some time back. Prick.
“So does that mean if mouthwash were alive it’d get hammered on its own ingredients? As in permanently, from day 1, right off the assembly line. In Superdrugs everywhere there are bottles of Listerine that, if they had a voice, would be hurling abuse at passersby. ‘Jeez, your chompers’re big enuff for woodland creatures to go boating in! I tells ya, I tell ya love…its gonna take more- it’s gonna take a lot more than minty breath for ‘im to come home, with you. Les jus say this, I’d consida you have a good ole soak in my buddy clearasil…and find somewhere else for that mini-Steve Buscemi you call your baby boy to stay tonight.’ while other oral care products just laugh and inexplicably fall off their shelves. Maybe there’s an OA meeting somewhere; Oralcoholics Anonymous. A trust circle of various mouthwashes seated in a disused indoor basketball court sharing stories of the deplorable acts that happen in the bathroom cabinet. Oral-B has just finished explaining how she’s always contained alcohol in some measure since 1950 before Colgate Total stumbles to its base with an encouraging smirk and a tentative arm over his label. Bottle cap fastened tight, he removes his arm and tells the rest that he’s recently gone alcohol free. The hall erupts with applause and child safety locks snapped in jubilation. Another teetotal mouthwash, huzzah.”
The train of thought should have derailed there but before the last journey ended a new begun. Maybe “Alcohol free” meant with every bottle of Colgate Total Pro Gum Health bought you were helped to a free Jägermeister. That’d be a much better story of note. You’d hear stories of families destroyed by Dentyl Ph induced domestic violence cases. Families torn apart because daddy was mixing Sambuca and with the nighttime mouthwash and now evening bedtime brushes are used as evidence in child services hearings. Once I’d established that by this point I’d definitely hit the ‘depression’ stage I thought it best to quickly move on to acceptance and get going to see my friend.
So far I’ve questioned the fleeting prospects of mental stimulation in a class driven society and exposed the follies of misinterpretation in modern advertising via superfluous cognitive reasoning. But the real question is, will I ever get that coffee? Look forward to Tykes of the Tudors and Cubic Consumption in part 2, and if that doesn’t sound enticing I just don’t understand you.
Click here for Pt 2.