Reading Is Fundamental

Remember that campaign from years ago? It was sort of like the “Got Milk?” of its time. Or, really, I suppose, it’s the other way around, and the “Got Milk?” campaign is today’s “RIF”. Whatever, as the krazy kidz of today say.

And speaking of “whatever”, well … Whatever happened to RIF, anyway? Is it R.I.P.? Was the campaign retired, or just abandoned, because whoever started it (why am I now hearing a generic child whining “Mom, he started it!”?) decided that literacy was way up, and all the kiddies’ noses found their way into all manner of reading material? I don’t know, and I’m probably not about to find out. All I do know, and all I can tell you is that “Reading Is Fundamental” made a huge impact on my life.

For example, take today. I went to CVS, where I fulfilled this week’s quota of aisle-browsing. Among the items I bought (no, I will not list them all — and no, that’s not because the purchases included “feminine” products, which it didn’t anyway) were a Schick&#174 Silk Effects&#174 Plus and a World Trend Inc. “Wild Ones” toothbrush with ErgoGrip™. “Yeah, that’s thrilling,” you’re yelling at the screen, “but what does that have to do with reading?” Well, I’ll tell you. (Oh, c’mon … you knew I wouldn’t let you down.)

You see, I have this “thing” about reading the copy that is found on product boxes, cardboard backers, and, of course, the paper inserts that are housed within some of them. It doesn’t matter what the product is, it doesn’t matter if I already know how to use it (ladies, may I be so bold as to hint at those special insert(ion!) instructions that you no doubt struggled with when you passed the threshold into womanhood!). I’m gonna read it. And today was no different. I am always amused by the things that are actually written for ordinary products, such as, well, razors and toothbrushes. Some of my favorite copy is that which describes the “features” of the products.

Here’s what today’s fundamental reading revealed:

  • Schick&#174 Silk Effects&#174 Plus (cardboard backer)

    • “Worry-Free Shaving Just Got Better!” — As if it weren’t exciting enough that somewhere down the line, people evolved into confident shavers, this product now takes that experience to the next level. Exclamation point!
    • “Shaving Made Easy!” — Yes. It was so difficult before!
    • “Exclusive Portable Shower Hanger” — Exclusive? Portable? Not only are we elite, but we’re on the go go go!!!

    I must confess, however, that one of the features actually did persuade me to buy this product rather than others in the same category: “Contains Antimicrobial Properties For a Cleaner Razor”. I mean, hey, I’m not entirely immune to advertising claims. We’ll see just how antimicrobial this thing is after it’s been happily attached (via two suction cups — remember, it’s portable!) to my shower tile for a month or so.

  • World Trend Inc. “Wild Ones” toothbrush with ErgoGrip™ (plastic box) — (zany zebra stripes, bright blue bristles)

    • “Flat Bottom Brush Handle Stands Alone” (indicated by an arrow at the bottom of the box) — I don’t know about you, but I like to see my toothbrush standing at attention when I approach it twice daily. It can loaf around all it likes when I’m not around, but damn it, it’d better learn how to respect a lady when she enters the room!
    • “It is recommended that a new toothbrush be used after recovering from a cold or sore throat.” — With recommendations like this, I suppose World Trend Inc. will really do a boomin’ business during flu season. (Actually, the more I think about it, this does seem like a good idea … I think …)
    • Ergo Grip™ — Very useful. Well, who among us hasn’t lost our grip — on a toothbrush, I mean?
    • Lofty Scientific Claims

      • “Wedge-shaped profile gets between teeth and below the gumline to remove 10% more deposits than round filaments of equivalent stiffness” (emphasis added by me). I’m seeing petrie dishes. Starched white lab coats. Microscopes. Monitors. A labyrinthine mess of tubes containing colorful bubbling liquid, and a monitor with green squiggles to indicate “deposit” levels.
      • “53% better cleaning of hard to reach back teeth areas” — With a percentage so precise (not rounded off to the nearest five or ten percent), it must be true!

All right, so I still haven’t finished reading Tibor Fischer’s “I Like To Be Killed,” one of the three library books I mentioned weeks ago. OK, so I had to renew it last week, and have read perhaps three pages since then. And this is a book I actually like. But hey, I figure that Tibor Fischer certainly has his share of readers … and there’s some poor shlub who spends his day coming up with a sure-fire crowd-pleaser such as “ErgoGrip™”. And another who spends his formulating the very “antimicrobial properties” that actually persuaded me to buy the product featuring them.

And then there’s some shlub who … sits … in her apartment and …. reads all about it. And, worse, writes about it. I suspect there’s something fundamentally wrong here.