I jump-turned hard down into my reliably plush crackled leather chair and swung my left leg up onto the overstuffed arm, easing the top half of my body into a soft angled recline. Grabbing the landline and popping on speaker I banged out the number on the back of my recently acquired greenish purple Crest Pro Health SuperAdvanced(™) Mouthwash: 866-CALL-TAD. I grooved a little to the touchtone melody as I worked my way across the pad with a rhythm that could best be described as Morse-under-the-influence.
Thank you for calling Oral B, a proud division of TAD Industries. All of our oral hygiene consultants are busy at the moment, but please hold and someone will be with you shortly.
In the split second during which I was considering my options of hanging up or waiting on hold, I found myself a bit too comfortable in my practiced leather chair repose to make any type of hasty decision as the music started.
The high looping new wave guitar riff, the soft keyboard and digitized drums, baaaaummmmmm bauuuuuummmmmmm. Welcome to your life…
There’s no turning back. Baaaaaaauuuummmmmm bauuummmmmmmmmmm…
I absent-mindedly began picking at the mouthwash’s back label, peeling up the corner above the fluoride and inactive ingredient information.
Even while you sleep, we will find you…
I decided at this point, leg still up and dangling over the arm with my left foot now ramped up to a heady pump to the classic beat, that I may as well stay on hold. I stared at the mouthwash and thought back to earlier in the day, when with a spring in my step I had bounced into my local convenience store in search of something to bolster the effects of my newfound appreciation for high-end toothbrushes.
Everybody wants to rule the world…
“Hi! Can I help you find something?” said the man in the store as he set to the side several boxes with foreign lettering.
“Just looking for what’s good in mouthwashes, chief,” I replied without knowing what got into me. I never use salutations like “chief”.
“You came to the right place! My name is Tad and I am familiar with every oral hygiene product we offer!”
“Well lay it on me then, Tad. Whatcha got?”
I shifted the phone to my other ear as the music kept on.
It’s my own design. It’s my own remorse. Help me to decide…
Shoulders relaxed and working back into the welcoming cushion, I sank back into the memory.
“First please fill out this short survey!” Tad recited in a suspicious monotone, “It will provide me with information critical to matching you with the right product.”
Everybody wants to rule the world…
I took the touchscreen from Tad’s outstretched hands and began tapping away at what seemed like overly personal and irrelevant information, but something came over me and I decided not to care. I may well have handed back to him my entire life story, birth to actuarial death.
“There you go champ.”
So glad we’ve almost made it…
Hi! We haven’t forgotten! Please continue to hold!
I examined my fingernails and took a few nibbles, exhaling hard and sharp the nearly invisible shards.
Rule the world…
“You absolutely positively need to try the Crest Pro Health SuperAdvanced(™) Mouthwash! It is our premium top-of-the-line mouthwash that is clinically proven to give you the best possible oral hygiene experience available anywhere in the world!”
“Sounds pricey, Tad,” I countered halfheartedly. I’d gone down this road before. I knew where it was going to end.
“Ordinarily you’d be right, but for this hour only we’re running a special! It is only four dollars and ninety nine cents! I’m sure I don’t need to tell a man like you what that translates to in terms of value per rinse and sterilized tooth per ounce per day!”
Tad was right. He didn’t need to tell me. I didn’t know what it was, but I could feel it. Following the imaginary line extending from Tad’s outstretched arm and fingertips to the shelf next to him, I grabbed a bottle and headed for the register.
“If you have any questions or concerns at all please call the number on the back!” Tad shouted after me, proving that his monotone delivery could scale up, at least in terms of projection.
Can’t stand this indecision married with a lack of vision.
It was disgusting. Unswishable. Intolerable.
Doo dooooooooooo de doooo de dooooo de di dee doooooooo…
It was the worst mouthwash I had every tried. Like saccharine gone bad and mixed with rotting wood pulp and some sort of bitter metal. Plus it looked like the liquid was eating away at the bottom of the bottle.
All for freedom and for pleasure, nothing ever lasts forever.
“Hi! Thanks for waiting! My name’s Tad and I’m honored to be your guide through the world of oral hygiene!”
“Hi Tad. I think I talked you today at the store?”
“Ha ha! No, we get that a lot. There are lots of Tads out there! Did you say you were calling about that awesome mouthwash?”
I didn’t remember telling him that, but I also suddenly felt a lot better about the whole thing. I felt some vague wave of acceptance washing over from head to a foot still tapping to a beat that was now only in my head.
Everybody wants to rule the world.
“You know, Tad, I think I’m good.”
I clicked down the phone before thinking to wait for his reply.
On the other end of the line Tad punched off the Connection Protocol and turned with an animatronically smug face to his store manager, Eddie, who was standing behind him, right hand clasping a stopwatch raised to his eyes, thumb just clicking the metal knob protruding from its top.
“Four minutes four. Almost the whole song, but still.” Eddie reached for his phone, eager to call in the results. Corporate would be pleased.