Monday, May 30, 2005

That Old Feeling

You’re driving around the Hollywood Hills with seven of your shallowest friends, looking for the party this guy (Mark? Mike? Mack?) one of you met at another party told you about. “He said Vista Del Mar Place”…“No, he said Mar Vista Place”…“No, his name was Mark Vista. The street was something else”... The interior of the car is a miasma of mascara flecks and hair spray. All seven women are using the rear-view mirror to reapply lipstick. It is, in short, a very good time. Next thing you know, it’s ten years later and you’re staring at a tube of toothpaste in confusion.

While brushing my teeth this morning, I glanced at the tube of toothpaste, as I try not to gaze directly at myself in the morning until the puffy eyelids subside a bit. Emblazoned across the top of the tube there was a yellow banner and these words:

EXCITING FLAVOR!

I stopped brushing for a second to contemplate my good fortune. I came of age in a simpler time; nothing more was required of toothpaste but that it remove some plaque and leaves my mouth no longer tasting like low tide. After this came whitening toothpaste. Then strengthening toothpaste. Then nerve-deadening toothpaste (for those among us made physically apprehensive by a bowl of ice cream). Now, without having broken into my forties, I have lived long enough for my toothpaste to want to excite me. I noted the color of the toothpaste was bright red with silvery flecks. Ten years ago, I would have considered this an ideal lip gloss. Now it just made me cranky.

Are we so endlessly stimulated as a culture that we need our toothpaste to excite us? Are we disappointed to go more than twenty minutes without the promise of novelty? Why didn’t the marketing guy who foisted this new exciting flavor on me (which the really old folks would call cinnamon) just go with my least-favorite marketing term, X-treme? I mean, my juice is X-treme. My cheese is X-treme. I believe my bathroom tile cleanser is X-treme. What exactly stopped the toothpaste shills from declaring their product X-treme? Might it have been that my bathroom tile cleanser and my toothpaste look unnervingly similar? Maybe some toothpaste is X-treme and I’m just not getting the full dental experience. Maybe I should not rest until I find the most intense dental experience out there, preferably with pictures of buff, semi-naked snowboarders on the box and some flavor like “X-tremely X-treme”.

AND THEN I WILL BE COOL!!!!! AND HAVE NEAT CARS!!!!! AND BE EMINEN’S BEST FRIEND!!!!

Where the hell is my old tube of toothpaste?

I am starting to see why people over the age of 35 aren’t interesting to advertisers. Even though we are far more likely to have discretionary income, one of the characteristics of Neo Fogeyism is we aren’t quite as gullible as we used to be. I no longer believe a new deodorant is going to make me a runway model. I’m not likely to be tempted into trying a new dish soap because Orlando Bloom is smiling at me from the bottle. How long will it be before Charmin tells me they’ve pimped my toilet paper?

I owe so many older people in my life an apology. What I always thought was cranky tedious ranting from old people about things they just didn’t get, was… well, I won’t say what they said was always right, but there was something there.

For example, adolescents traveling in a pack are incredibly obnoxious. A pack of girls achieve a collective shriek that would irritate a pterodactyl. A pack of boys halve their collective IQ with each new friend they pick up. A mixed crowd is so saturated with hormones and hair product they need to shout and shove each other or they will combust. Sometimes a pair of them roars past me in an $800 car with $1200 rims, their stereo pumping enough wattage to pulse my sternum. Sure, this is annoying for a moment. But my discomfort lasts only a minute or two, as opposed to the ringing in their inner ears which, in a perfect universe, will last their entire adult lives.

Automated phone systems are hugely irritating and designed to make us hang up in disgust. I have taken to just stabbing “0” repeatedly, in the vain attempt to talk to some person in India who will tell me I need to be transferred to Customer Service, after which she will very politely disconnect me.

Electronics salespeople do go to a special school to be unhelpful. Last month, I was held hostage to the most mulish and uncommunicative cell-phone salesman who ever slouched behind a counter. I explained to him several times how I was looking for a very basic model and had no interest in a camera cell phone. We walked through the entire store while he explained the camera capabilities on each possible phone. I keep asking what the monthly rate is, only to have him say coyly “Well, it depends on a lot of things”

“Like what?”

“How many pictures do you see yourself taking a month?”

For a brief instant, I really wanted to be much older than I am. Hitting him with a big hard, old-lady purse would have made me feel like a kid of fifty again.

3 Comments:

Blogger BrunhildeCrow said...

I found it very annoying when my friend Jen sent me your link with the words, "She is so much funnier than you." I found it even more annoying to read your blog and learn that it is true.

2:22 PM  
Anonymous Amy Kenaston said...

Inspired by your writing, I glanced at my toothpaste this morning and discovered that it is, in fact, EXTREME CLEAN Aquafresh, and that the flavor is (I'm not kidding) "EMPOWERMINT." Did you know your toothpaste could empower you?!

I'm really enjoying your blog -- thanks!

3:02 PM  
Blogger Quinn Cummings said...

Empowermint.

I wish I had a new cat to name right now, because I just hate to think of that sort-of word leaving my life.

3:05 PM  

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