Sunday, December 20, 2009

Kleenex up my nose

A meditation on slings and arrows

Remember Prell? It was a green shampoo “concentrate” that was famous in the seventies for having a viscosity sufficient to slow the descent of a pearl. Surely a ball bearing or mouse dropping would have worked just as well, but for some reason they chose to advertise Prell's gooiness with a pearl. A marketing decision, no doubt.

Prell fell from its pinnacle of popularity as it passed through the hands of various owners who reformulated and repackaged it as “New and improved”—words that almost never mean what they say. Eventually, at some point in the late eighties (as I recall), someone relaunched Prell with a nostalgia campaign: “Original-formula Prell is back and it's better than ever!”

How can the original formula be better than ever? It boggles the mind.

All this is by way of offering a curmudgeonly rant about how idiots keep messing up things that don't need messing with. As is my usual custom, I caught a cold near the end of fall semester. It's probably from the volume of papers I shuffle while grading the final rounds of quizzes and exams as the term winds down. Cold viruses go tearing through my classes anyway as winter draws nigh, so I get more exposure than usual as finals week approaches. (Would microwaving the exams kill the rhinoviruses on them or simply cause mini-explosions due to the staples?)

The annual fall cold hardly ever immobilizes me. It merely means that I need a big supply of Kleenex in addition to a box of red pens as I correct papers during fall semester's waning days. If the symptoms are bad enough, I dose myself with Sudafed. It works like a champ. And when I say Sudafed, I mean the real stuff that contains pseudoephedrine, not the Sudafed PE crap that contains phenylephrine. It's worthless to me. (Give me real pseudoephedrine, not pseudo-pseudoephedrine!)

Maybe it's different in your state, but in California you can find original-formula Sudafed only behind the pharmacy counter. They have to swipe your driver's license through a reader before selling you any. There's some kind of database that tracks whether you are buying too much pseudoephedrine (whatever “too much” is), because that suggests you're running a meth lab.


While I was in the drugstore getting my Sudafed fix, I paused by the cold remedy section (like most drugstores, my local outfit shamelessly sells tons of worthless homeopathic nostrums and heavily marketed frauds like Airborne—“created by a school teacher,” as if that matters). When my throat is sore, I find that Chloraseptic analgesic sprays or lozenges do the trick. It was time to stock up. To my dismay (you already know where I'm going with this), Chloraseptic is now “new and improved”! (Oh, damn.)

The last time the makers screwed with Chloraseptic, they removed the alcohol content of the spray, significantly reducing its effectiveness in easing sore throats. (The burn! The relief!) It still works and I still use it, but it's tamer than the old-fashioned version. This time they've gone and screwed with the lozenges. “Improved with liquid center.” Oh, good. The lozenges will now last significantly less time as you tuck them in your cheek and suck on them for relief. Instead of staying solid all the way through, they will now suddenly ooze into your mouth as you penetrate to the liquid core. Gag! Hey, if I wanted liquid I'd use the spray!

But those wankers aren't getting me! I switched to Sucrets.

I'm feeling a lot better today (thanks for asking) and I'm off the meds. No more pseudoephedrine and no more sucking on Sucrets. The Kleenex box is back up on the shelf. I can return to a normal (for me) life.

Perhaps I should wash my hair.


Miki said...

Glad to hear you are feeling better. I only deal with papers electronically but still seem to catch some cyclical illness. Maybe I should create a remedy, too. "Finite Fourier Series cold medicine: for cyclical sinus and cosinus discomfort."

Sili said...

I like the idea of microwaving stuff to kill vira. I wonder if it'd work.

You should try some Rularkin for your throat (or so that word verification tells me).

Anonymous said...

Okay, I was going to let "cosinus" slide, but "vira" is a bridge too far. There is *no* Latin plural of "virus", so "viruses" is the most correct in English.

Anonymous said...

Sucrets? No. You want Fisherman's Friends.