This is a view of the back of my shampoo bottle. Please take a deep breath and temper your excitement. It’s not unlike other shampoo bottles, as you can see. But as I went to grab the bottle and place a dollop of liquid in my palm to wash my ever-thinning head of hair, I started to read the back of the bottle. While reading, I slowly began to drift away to the Land of Confusion and Unanswerable Questions, or LaCUQ, as I affectionately call it. I come here quite often.
I first got stuck on the ingredient, “Water (Aqua)”. What does this mean? Is this colored water? Could I get other colors? How about water (black) or water (lime green) or water (burnt sienna)? Is this supposed to be a failed attempt at listing the Spanish word for water, which would be “agua”, not “aqua”. Or is just some new-agey attempt at making people feel more in touch with their chi by listing a comforting word with water to promote stress relief?
(I looked it up. I should have known, it’s a European thing. The water is run through all sorts of bullshit processes like reverse osmosis, de-ionization, and immersion through something called rose crystals. I would have read on, but I started to get lightheaded and urinated myself, so I stopped.)
I continued on and saw things like sodium laureth sulfate and ammonium chloride. I’m sure there are good reasons these are included, but something about cleaning my hair with ammonium and sulfates doesn’t sound very sexy. Then I saw “Fragrance (Parfum)”. Apparently, now the ingredients on the shampoo bottle need to be trilingual. English, Spanish and French. Anymore ingredients and we’ll eventually get to Sanskrit, Cyrillic, and Pig Latin translations.
I smiled once I reached my favorites; methylchloroisothiazolinone and his little brother, methylisothiazolinone. These ingredients are in every bottle of shampoo you’ll find in the stores. I first started noticing these when I was about 10. They’ve secretly fascinated me over the years. What are they? What do they do? One night, years ago, after a few (dozen) beers, I wrote a song for them called “The Methyl Brothers”. I recorded it on my old-school 4-track cassette recorder. It was a hilarious garage rock, 3-chord ode to their absurdity where I rhymed “Methylchloroisothiazolinone” with “We use the vibrate setting on our cellular phones”. I’ve never professed to writing good lyrics. Sadly, I’ve been unable to find that song anywhere.
The plea for water conservation on the bottle was the last thing that intrigued me. I’m sure they’re may be someone out there who heeds this advice, but I don’t know any of them. Good for them if they do, but I’m just too lazy. No way I’m wetting my hair, then turning off the water to lather up, and then clumsily fumbling to turn the water back on just to save a couple cents. And when has the average family size in America been 3 people as listed on the bottle? I think this bottle was meant for China.
I awoke from my daze, returning from LaCUQ (where Ronald Reagan is still the President and Genesis is the house band), to continue on with my shower. I shampooed as directed, but I did not rinse and repeat. Those were the instructions when we didn’t need to conserve water, I guess.
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