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Turn Your Head and Cough #7
by Jason Torchinsky

I was in quite a thoughtful mood today. I was pondering, and, of course, thinking, which is much more fun, about the idea of the conflict between mind and body. Is there a conflict? Well, if fish is truly brain food, then I would say yes, there is, considering what six pounds of popcorn shrimp does to my bowels. So the brain and the body are at odds with each other for control of the being that you call yourself, or, in the case of Tony Danza, the being you call "Tony."

Does either side have the upper hand? Does the mind rule the body or does the body rule the mind? At first, I felt that the body must rule the mind, for any time one finds oneself in any state of pain or physical discomfort, such as being cold, or hungry, or getting your cheek caught in the conveyer belt at a grocery store checkout line, the brain seizes up and is controlled by the body's pain. But then, I found the opposite to also be true, as I recall when I was little my dad accidentally slammed my brain in the car door, and it caused my body to seize up.

Though I never did reach a conclusion as to who was in charge, corpse or cranium, it should be noted that during the entire 14-hour period that I was thinking about this I was constantly snacking on Funions, those artificially-flavored onion snack treats from out of a 22-pound box I picked up at the Pace Membership Warehouse for a mere three weeks salary. After I had reached the bottom of the carton and was licking out all of the Funion dust from the bottom, I began to get an odd feeling in my stomach. The odd feeling soon progressed into something that felt like two greased Yorkshire terriers fighting in my abdomen with those vibrating massage things you can buy from the Sharper Image, and within seconds I was on the ground writhing and palpitating like a circa 1982 break dancer.

I slithered over to the bathroom, pulled myself upright on the sink and noted that one of my eyes was glowing green and had increased to five times its normal size. Also, I could only see maroon things and I couldn't stop my left arm from spinning. Diagnosing my condition as minor at best I collapsed to the floor of the bathroom, coughing out of my ears, and remained there for the 35 hours until my recovery.

After the first 12 hours, my senses returned to normal, allowing me to do some observing, though I still had a pain in my abdomen that felt like I had swallowed a pitching machine. Anyway, I took advantage of my time in the bathroom to think about some of those hygiene items that I know I take for granted.

Soap, for instance. Perhaps the staple of anybody's hygienic diet, it occurred to me that, despite all my years of dealing with soap, I have no idea what soap is. What the hell is it made of? Let's take a quick look at some of soap's qualities, shall we? Not that you have any say in the matter, dear readers, but there's no reason why I shouldn't be polite. And if you've got something better to do, well, you can get your own damn column, you. There. All right, back to soap. It's solid, usually, can be formed into any shape, even little roses, can hold nearly any color, has a weird marblely kind of pattern on it, and has a hardness factor just below that of sandstone. And, most importantly, it has a wonderful quality that is when you get it wet, it gets all bubbly and, eventually, smaller, a trait that my dog Scraps shared.

As even the slowest of us can note, this empirical evaluation of soap tells us absasmurfly nothing about soap and our best course of action now would be to get our hands on some soap and read the ingredients. Woah, wait, don't go running off-- this is my column, I'll do the work. You just sit and enjoy. Take a load off. There, that's better.

As I write this I'm holding a bar of Zest, which actually doesn't claim to be soap but rather a "Deodorant Bar," a name which conjures up images of smelly guys trying to hit on smelly chicks over a nice tall glass of Dry Idea or Ban or something, with more smelly guys in the background playing pool with mothballs and roll-on sticks. But even if they don't say it's soap, it's good enough for our purposes.

The ingredient list is a big long string of chemical names that I have no urge to print here, mostly because I don't want some cocky chemistry grad student pointing to various chemicals and then telling me how common they are and generally taking all of the fun and mystery out of everything. But I will list a few of these ingredients that caught my eye. For example, there is sodium chloride in Zest, or, as we know it table salt. Personally, I find it equally yummy on other furniture as well, but that's beside the point. No, the point is that this is just regular salt, which causes heart disease, so the once-popular practice of eating as much soap as possible to keep your arteries clear is now frowned upon.

Also in the ingredients is Titanium Dioxide, easily one of the meanest sounding chemicals I can think of. Based on my vast rudimentary knowledge of chemistry, I can logically reason that this ingredient comes from the hulls of ground up alien spaceships.

And if you're thinking "Jason, come on. The advertising for soap will surely tell you what it is," then you need to think louder, because I can't hear you, and, more importantly, you need to be corrected, big shot. Soap commercials dodge the issue completely. Take those Irish Spring ads. They show some beautiful part of Ireland, surprisingly free of coal mines and big, sooty factories, stick some chipper, vested Irishman in there to walk around whittling a bar of soap while he whistles at some lass taking a shower in the shrubbery. Man, those Irish have everything!

But what's really bad about the Irish Spring ad is when Pat O'Clean whips out his bar of soap and a huge buck knife and proceeds to hack off a huge chunk of soap. At first I thought that finally they were going to reveal the complicated inner cleaning mechanism of soap, but all I saw was that it's the exact same inside! So why is this goofball slicing into the soap? Does it have some thick, yucky husk? Skin? A pelt or bark? I just don't know.

Ah, to hell with it. I'm running late turning this in anyway, and all I've seemed to accomplish is to confuse myself further. Just more grist for my propaganda mill, whatever that means. At any rate, keep well. Button up. And stop leaving the house with a wet head! You want to catch pneumonia? Huh? Yeah. Solidarity.

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