Title: Don’t Let Tears For Fears Change Your Mind About Mouthwash
Subtext: Acting on your best behavior.
Date: 29 Jul 17 (Saturday in the PM)
Time: 5 minutes
Replies: 16
Revisions: 7
Publicity: Workshop

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.

Baummmm bauuuuummmmmmm…

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.


Rabbit » Authorship
Rabbit » 11:30 AM 30 Jul 17
Rabbit » 9:46 PM 29 Jul 17
Rabbit » 9:44 PM 29 Jul 17
Rabbit » 9:42 PM 29 Jul 17
Rabbit » 9:22 PM 29 Jul 17

The Thread (16)

 Author's voice in grey. 

  1. This is like when Van Halen started using keyboards. I don’t like it, and yet I like it a lot.

  2. Yes, well, I was doing a split after jumping off an amp when I wrote it, so that stands to reason.

  3. Pausing after the first paragraph to throw out a high five that connects with a solid slap.

  4. I gotta finish this later — kids. But so far, so fine.

    In the meanwhile, maybe make consistent your use of ellipses? I’m for only three periods, if ever to use ellipses at all. I disfavor irresolution.

  5. Cleaned up the ellipses. Feels a little “formal” to not have them on what’s supposed to be the continuation of background music. At the same time I don’t use them on all the lyric lines as for a couple of them it seemed better without. Not something I feel particularly strongly about.

  6. I’m a fan of ellipses. They convey tone and a sense of continuity, or discontinuity. Found their relation to the term aporia in David Lodge’s The Art of Fiction.

  7. Found their relation to the term aporia in David Lodge’s The Art of Fiction.

    That’s a good read. I remember aporia…

    I like the choice of text for the guitar riffs. I wouldn’t have gone with baummmmm. It’s a nice way to hear it. Fascinating to think about how we transpose sound to words in different ways.

    Also, the word unwishable is excellent. It evokes unwashable just enough to get its aesthetic without the meaning, and I also like unwishable for the way it means something done (in this case not done) unto you by someone else.

    I love this series. How many are there? I don’t know about a channel, but it’s certainly worthy of a collection. Aporia.

  8. I think the tags used here capture the core of this collection.

  9. These should share some core tags.

  10. The baum bauummmmmm‘s are the keyboards not guitars. I didn’t like the phoneticization either but couldn’t think of anything better.

    And the word is actually unswishable though you’re right about unwishable as a damn good adjective for some bunk product like this.

  11. Ah, they are keyboards. I was remembering it wrong. Ok, still, I wouldn’t have thought of baum. And by the way, I never said I didn’t like it. It works real nice.

    Wow, did I block out that ‘s’ in unswishable for some reason!

    Nothing like some misremembering and misreading to make for a fun read.

  12. Wrong lyrics are the best lyrics.

    Also I have a vague recollection of some study saying that when drumming a beat for someone else to guess the song, people’s expectations that their hand slapping will be recognizable for what they intend far, far, far exceeds the ability of someone to guess what’s being slapped.

    Only exception was 9th grade math, when the teacher nailed exactly what I was tapping out on my desk while waiting for whatever.

  13. I’d say same goes for when we hum something, emphasizing the rhythm (poorly probably) more than the melody, expecting someone to get it. Actually it’s less of a hum and more like a daah. And now we’re right where we started. Daah daahhhh… daah daahhha… That’s my baum bauummmmm, by the way.

  14. Here, see if you can get this.

    Deh neh nent, neh neh nent — deh neh nent, neh neh nent…

  15. What’s with all the frigging ellipses now.

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