laundering my karma
(originally posted 6/13/2012)
I’d like to talk today about laundry detergents. I was in the grocery store yesterday and I needed to pick up a jug of detergent. Easy enough right? Instead I was subjected to the full fury of the American marketing effort. Suddenly I stopped being a man and was instead a consumer. Walking down the aisle I could literally feel the ghosts of advertising executives and test groups swirling around me and watching my every buying impulse. My psyche was being probed with every brightly colored bottle I saw on the shelf.
Who was I? Which detergent would appeal to me? Which detergent would define me?
For whatever reason it was clear from the start that they only needed one word to get their various messages across. A single word screamed from the front of each detergent bottle, each a different color and font. Each with its own story begging to be told through my dirty clothes.
My filthy clothes. Only one of these detergents would be able to help me remove these hideous stains and blemishes from my life.
Would I feel the pull of a product promoting the virtues of nature: Tide. Surf. Purex.
Did I need to feel the product was working and go with the action-insinuating Wisk or would a broader context suffice… i.e. Biz.
Am I emotionally in need of support and go with Cheer or am I selfish enough to just pick up the Gain and be done with it?
Am I hip enough for Era or bold enough for Bold?
Maybe Fab is good enough or is there some part of me that demands Ultra?
Then I saw it.
My head swam.
Never has a product implied such complete and utter satisfaction.
I slowly sank to the cold tiled floor and wrestled with the concept of a detergent named All. The promises it made. No cuddly bears or smiling soap bubbles. No pictures of the mighty ocean or a babbling stream.
No need. No need at all.
I heard it cooing in my ear like a lover, stories of fulfillment.
Afterword: I’m not sure whether this story is intended as a scalding commentary of our culture of consumerism or some whimsical tale of one persons passion for the language but all I know is I like the image of a man sitting in a grocery store cradling a bottle of detergent.