09 July 2018

The Aerosol Swiss Army Knife (The Great Groceries Write-Off)

[originally posted to epinions.com on 2001-05-01]

Subject: Groceries
Pros: Many groceries are very good.
Cons: Some groceries are not very good.
Summary: I have long been a user of groceries, and I recommend them highly.

Modern grocery stores are absolute marvels-- palaces of wonderfully wretched excess where you can find dozens of products for use in any specific situation. Need orange juice? Great-- they have "from concentrate," "not-from concentrate," with calcium, without, with extra A & C, with pulp, no-pulp, some pulp, all-pulp, different pulp.... Need bleach? They've got large, jumbo, mega, regular, lemon, rainfresh, concentrated, super-concentrated, absurdly concentrated.... You say you need apples? Well, there's Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Jonagold, Fuji, Granny Smith, McInstosh, Rome, Gala, Washington State apples, New Zealand Apples, home-schooled California free-range apples, all available in various size categories.

Being confronted with so many choices can lead to what author Douglas Coupland labeled "option paralysis"-- the tendency, when confronted by a near unlimited number of opportunities or possibilities, to choose nothing. Instead of getting just the right product for the need at hand, you wind up buying nothing, leaving all sorts of problems and needs unaddressed.

Which is why I am so excited to turn your valuable and harried attention to one of THE true marvels of this modern age, one product that will fill the bill for a dizzying variety of chores, a product whose many uses address so many different needs and situations that no trip to the store is complete until you've replenished your supply.

I am talking, of course, about the super-jumbo aerosol can of store-brand underarm deodorant.

What you say? "Are you high? It's just deodorant!"

Right, and beer is JUST a sports drink.

Of course, it's important that you buy the right brand of no-name deodorant spray. If you buy a name you trust and recognize, chances are you will talk yourself out of using the product in some of the scenarios I will describe. Your best bet is to buy the supremo-monstro canister of the most generic house brand offered-- sheer mass of product is the key. You want a can that looks roughly the size of a 40-millimeter shell casing. Remember-- "quantity has a quality all its own." Plus, a ten pound canister of the no-name stuff will be about 30% cheaper than any recognizable brand name. As for scent, if you buy the real deal-- the no name black can that has "suitable for use on humans" somewhere on the label in tiny type-- your pickings are likely slim when it comes to fragrance, and I'm pretty sure that "regular scented" is what you will wind up with, but fret not, gentle shopper: close enough is good enough in this game. In fact, it's probably best to AVOID any particular pleasing scent, since there's no telling where you'll end up where or how you'll end up using this miracle product. Why, consider just these few actual uses from my own past:

"Shower In A Can®"
While in college I and my roommates discovered that a jumbo canister of underarm deodorant can be an absolute life-saver when you happen to hit that snooze button 16 or 17 too many times in the morning. Picture this scenario: you oversleep, get up and realize that you have only 4 minutes to dress and get to class before the finals start. You understand all too well that you smell like a wet musk ox after a night in a cigar bar but you also know that sometimes there's just no time for hygiene... UNLESS you have the super-jumbo aerosol can of store-brand underarm deodorant. Simply grab your handy-dandy Shower In A Can, mist yourself from topnotch to toenail while grabbing a Pop-Tart from the cupboard, then sprint to class to ace that Biochem final and be one step closer to a fulfilling career in brain surgery.

"Room So Fresh®"
You come home after a hard day of Biochem Finals/sales presentations/margaritas by the pool and find a phone message from your parents alerting you that they're in town and stopping by to take you to dinner. You step into your dorm room/apartment/four-bedroom ranch style, realize that the place smells like a wet musk ox after a night in a cigar bar, and then notice the fact that your parents are due to arrive sometime in the next 90 seconds. You know that Dear Old Mom will come in sniffing and wincing, starting her standard finger-wagging lecture... UNLESS you have a super-jumbo aerosol can of store-brand underarm deodorant. Simply grab your handy-dandy Room So Fresh spray, sprint through the room while spraying the can overhead, kicking all the dirty clothes and empty beer cans into the bedroom, then answer the doorbell with a big warm smile.

You get back from dinner with the parents at Red Lobster and find another message saying that "everybody" will be meeting and such and such bar that evening and that you really ought to tag along since SHE'S going to be there and this is finally maybe your Big Chance. You bound into the closet and painfully remember that you meant to do laundry that afternoon (you were distracted by cleaning the apartment for the parents, remember?), meaning your cleanest shirt is whichever one that doesn't have palm-sized chili stains, the one that still hints slightly of a wet musk ox after a night in a cigar bar, meaning you're doomed to another night of "Hitler's Secret Arsenal" on The History Channel... UNLESS you have a super-jumbo aerosol can of store-brand underarm deodorant. Simply grab your handy-dandy Insta-Laundry spray, shake the Pringles from the pockets of the shirt and give it a quick spritz of manly scent, then head off to be completely ignored by the One True Woman Of Your Recent Dreams.

You stumble back home, broke and alone, heartbroken that SHE three times forgot your name, and you fall into bed, thinking for a moment that the place smells kinda fresh and sporty. You kick off your shoes, stumble to the bathroom for the nightly ablutions, then wander back to bed and suddenly realize that that earlier kinda fresh and sporty odor has been replaced with something that smells none too vaguely of a wet musk ox after a night in a cigar bar with a bag of corn ships served on the side. You realize that those two orders of Buffalo Wings in your tummy are not enjoying this odor, and both you and the wings will be bothered by the foul stench all night... UNLESS you have a super-jumbo aerosol can of store-brand underarm deodorant. Simply grab your handy-dandy Shoe-Nice spray, hold your breath as you roll over to snatch the sweaty Nike's, dash to the back porch/patio/garage, fumigate those bad boys but good, then wander back to bed to have strange garlic-fueled dreams.

The next morning you roll out of bed at the crack of 9:30 AM and pad quietly into the kitchen for a healthy breakfast featuring a trough full of Wheaties and a half can of Mountain Dew you forget to put back in the fridge, but when you open your pantry door, you are confronted by a half dozen little brown intruders milling about on the floor of your pantry. You realize that you really ought to start living a little better, possibly picking up after yourself and exhibiting maybe the tiniest twinge of pride in your wardrobe, hygiene, and housing, but you also know that those are really big projects and the project at hand is more immediate and pressing and will quite likely scurry away to the back reaches of the pantry where they will again be ignored and forgotten... UNLESS you have a super-jumbo aerosol can of store-brand underarm deodorant. Simply grab your handy-dandy "Bug-B-Gone" off the corner of the counter (where you left it the night before while dealing with the corn chippy smell), let loose a fresh scented cloud of Insectoidal Death From On High with one hand while you reach in to retrieve the Wheaties box with the other, then wander off to consume a healthy sensible Breakfast of Champions while watching those BodyShaping chicks on ESPN2.

That afternoon you wake up and remember that you promised to meet The Guys for some basketball over at that elementary school with the outdoor hoops. You fumble around your closet looking for your court shoes for a half hour, remember that you still need to do laundry, then remember that your hoop shoes are on the porch/patio/workbench where you left them last week when you previously noticed that shoe smell (musk ox, cigar bar, corn chips, etc.), so you retrieve the shoes, find a pair of acceptably clean socks, and sit to put them on when you notice an itchy burning redness between your toes. You realize that this is what comes from living like a caveman, and again you start to promise that you are going to Change. Things must Improve. You cannot continue to live This Way. But Change is something one does in The Future, and here in The Now you have some Way Nasty Funk going on between your toes, and you don't feel entirely comfortable putting shoes and socks on those toes... UNLESS you have a super-jumbo aerosol can of store-brand underarm deodorant. Simply grab your handy-dandy Fung-O-Way spray, hit the affected areas with a light almost-surely medicinal fog, immediately grab that pair of Chinese take-out chopsticks left on the counter and bite down upon them as if they are the rawhide strip in an Apache childbirth scene as rolling waves of silver-hot searing pain course up your leg and into the deepest crevices of your tiny wimpering mind, then slip on the socks and shoes and hobble off for a few hours of huffing and puffing around a dilapidated schoolyard.

That evening, after going out for pizza and beer with the rest of your no-game bad-hooping buddies, you all pile back to your place to watch TV since "Fistful Of Dollars" is on AMC in widescreen. You stop by the 7-Eleven for beer and CornNuts, and as you unlock your front door you look up and see your neighbor wandering over to know if he can bum an extra six-pack off you since you did the same to him the weekend before when you were too drunk to buy more beer. "Uh, no," you explain with annoyance, entering your home and quickly locking the door behind you as your neighbor starts screaming at you, explaining how he'll get that beer, you just watch. Later, as you are grabbing a bag of Funyons from the kitchen during the opening credits, you hear the soft metallic scrape of a window sliding open and you look up to see your neighbor trying to crawl through the small window over the sink in the kitchen, reaching towards the six-pack on the counter and mumbling all the while how you owe him those beers dammit, and you realize that he quite likely will GET those beers dammit... UNLESS you have a super-jumbo aerosol can of store-brand underarm deodorant. Simply grab your handy-dandy Thief Stoppr from the kitchen table where you left it before basketball, aim suarely between the intruder's beady hate-filled eyes and let fly with a refreshing blast of Mountain Freshness, then rap his windowsill-gripping knuckles firmly yet gently before closing and locking that kitchen window, then grab the Funyons and beer and scurry back to the Media Room so as not to miss any of The Man With No Name.

The next morning, when you waken on the sofa to the sound of the still-playing television, you tear yourself away from The Three Stooges on "N.Y.U.K." on AMC and decide that today finally in that Dawn Of A New Day when you will finally get your act together and start living life like a productive adult human. You pick up all the clothes and pizza boxes and empty plastic six-pack ringy thingies, you change sheets on the bed, toss the old sheets into the dumpster, you load the dishwasher, and then you shower, shave, comb your hair in preparation for going to the store for a full battery of real cleaning supplies. You grab your handy-dandy super-jumbo aerosol can of store-brand underarm deodorant, take aim on the left armpit, and hear a brief quiet hiss which quickly fades to silence just as the sad reality of your situation starts to sink in.

Out of deodorant.

Note to self-- next time buy two super-jumbo aerosol cans of store-brand underarm deodorant.

= END =

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