Sunday, September 04, 2005

Grammatical Incest

(a journey of the soap and self-discovery)

During Coachella last year, somehow out entire little group — Kristen, Hilly, Lauren, Naj, Mike and I — all went without thinking to bring enough soap or shampoo. Fortunately, Kristen had brought her bottle of Dr. Bronner's Magic 18-in-1 Hemp Peppermint Pure-Castile Soap. And we used it. And we smelled vaguely of peppermint. So when I saw a bottle of the same stuff — that is, again, Dr. Bronner's Magic 18-in-1 Hemp Peppermint Pure-Castile Soap — I bought it, if for no other reason than to take the bottle home and determine what the magic soap's eighteen uses were.

In case you've never seen this mythical bottle, here's what one looks like:

As you can see, the bottle is covered in text. I took a bath with the intention of reading this Stephen King novel-of-a-bottle in hopes that somewhere in this mess I could find just what I can use Dr. Bronner's soap for.

I did not.

Here's an example of the kind of thing written on the bottle:
Whatever unites making is better than whatever divides us! Yet, if absolute-unselfish I am not for me, I'm not but classless, graceless, starving masses, never free nor brave! Only if constructive-selfish I work hard perfecting first me, like Mark Spitz — arctic owls — pilot — cat — swallow — beaver, bee, can I tech the MORAL ABC's ALL - ONE - GOD - FAITH, that lightning like unites the Human race! For we're ALL-ONE OR NONE! ALL ONE! "listen children eternal father eternally one!" EXCEPTIONS ETERNALLY? ABSOLUTE NONE!
And no, there's no typos there. That's how it's written, in the Faulknerian head-on collision sentence style that Professor Waid would no doubt refer to as "grammatical incest." It's disconcerting to be taking a bath with a bottle when you feel like that bottle is shouting at you. I'd guess it's written in the style of the speech that you'd hear at a medicine show — the loud, slant-rhyming, Bible-thumping, attention grabbing jabber that gets you to buy some tonic or cure-all or life-giving elixir that was brewed in Grandpa Slaghopple's bath tub. But all of this adds up to motivate me not to rub this soap on by body, organically saponified or not.

Worse, this tells me nothing of what the eighteen uses for this product are. It just chatters on like that. Believe me, I read the whole goddamn bottle. (It was a lengthy bath, you see.) In fact, all I gleaned from close reading this hygiene product was that it's made in Escondido.

So what can we use it for? Kristen will recommend against using the magic soap as a shampooing agent. And we quickly found out that it's also not safe for use as mouthwash. That leaves the following:
  • body wash
  • hand wash
  • foot wash
  • face wash
  • shaving foam
  • douche
  • bubble bath agent
  • dishwashing fluid
  • laundry detergent
  • aromatic massage oil
  • shitty wedding gift for disliked newlyweds
  • in-bath reading material
  • body lice remover
And that's being generous by counting hand, body, foot and face wash as separate products — though not unrealistic, given how many little bottles people cram into their showers nowadays. And given how decidedly un-spectacular my bath was, I'd have to strike bubble bath agent from the list as well.

I should also mention that ball wash is not on the list. Do you own testicles? Have you ever gotten Icy Hot or Tiger Balm on your ball sac? Then you have some idea what it's like to get peppermint oil there. Not cold, not hot, but a slow, painful burn nonetheless that neither bathwater not squeezing not frantic swearing can stop. Thanks a lot, Dr. Bronner.

At a loss, I logged on to the Dr. Bronner website — thereby violating my rule of never visiting the online sites advertised on my hygiene products, even though they all have them. It's more new age-y than I would have expected from a product that seems like a throwback to the Depression era. I was happy to see that they post an FAQ list that includes "What are the eighteen uses for this goddamn product you tricked me into buying, you assholes?" (My wording. Also, not that the image in the sidebar has the face of the now-dead Dr. Bronner floating in the clouds in a very creepy manner. Hi there, dead mister!)

Here, The website describes the following as proper uses for the soap:
  • body wash
  • other uses (not defined, but apparently I should dilute it for this)
  • shampoo (and I'm supposed to rinse with vinegar, apparently)
  • laundry
  • toothpaste
And then this bullshit:
In reality, there are far more than eighteen uses, as people constantly write in to tell us about yet another utility of the soap. We won’t detail them all, but below are some of the major uses and dilutions.
Bastards! You stole my money, bored me with your quasi-Christian rhetoric, offended me with bad grammar, burned my balls and made Coachella smell like peppermint! And then you lie about the eighteen uses for your magic soap, which sucks. I hope those Bronners get what's coming to them — which, I suppose, could be a lifetime pondering what to do with a warehouse full of their stupid soap.



  1. Anonymous5:49 PM

    I take it you don't have a job yet.

  2. it's sunday, retard. also, i take it that boston holds nothing more interesting for you than reading my rants.

  3. Anonymous3:42 PM

    I get all of my piercings done at this hippie little place in San Jose called the Paisley Haus, and they give me a bottle of that every time I go in to clean out my piercings. I don't recommend using it as toothpaste, as it foams ridiculously and makes you look rabid and it hurts like a MOTHER on raw skin, so I don't really understand why they give it to me for new piercings in the first place...

    Anyway, hope you're doing well. :)

  4. Anonymous12:38 PM

    Shut up.