Dear Dirty America


Big Deals At Walmart: Speculation On Future Products & the Harm of Anti-Perspirants

April 26
15:00 2013
Los Angeles

(editor’s note: there is an intriguing Old Spice commercial below that details the frightening effects of “underarm alarm”)

My neighbor, standing in the doorway of our apartment complex, brings an open stick of deodorant to his nose. He lowers the bar, and brings it back again and again to his nose. He catches me watching him. I kindly step inside and smile. He holds out the stick of deodorant. “I love this smell,” he says. “It’s a new one from these guys.”

These guys happen to be Old Spice. You might have heard of their brand. “See?” my neighbor asks and holds the stick beneath my nose. The upper half of his body has shape, like it was once powerful and strong, but has, for some reason or another, been left to get soft. “Good smell, huh?”

It’s not a bad smell, I say.

“They’ve got this deodorant, and about six different soaps, like body wash, hand soap, face wash, all for four bucks,” he tells me. “At Walmart.”

That’s a steal, I say, except for me, though, because I don’t wear deodorant, and especially not anti-perspirant.

My neighbor brings his nose close to my neck, to my right armpit, and then he pulls back. “You don’t smell bad.”

But I don’t smell good, either, I say. However, if we keep standing in this hot lobby, I’ll start to smell bad.

“Why don’t you wear deodorant?” he asks. “What you got against deodorant?”

Oh, I say, taking a long pause to heighten the intensity of the story, and then say, because I value my lymph nodes and respect their right to excrete a water-rich moisture that is, ultimately, used to thermoregulate my system.

“Where do you find lymph nodes?” he asks. “Sounds like an auto product.” He lets out a quick barking sound. A laugh, presumably.

Normally, I tell him, God hands out lymph nodes for free when you take your ticket and float in line to come tumbling into this life, but I’m sure, soon enough, Walmart will be able to fish out of their sterilized tank of murky water just about anything that God can hand out, such as lymph nodes or livers, kidneys or…

I could see he wanted to jump in at that moment, so I held out a hand and let him fill in the blank. Keeping faithful to the weak alliteration I had started, he says, “Or clits!”

Or clits, I repeat. You need a new one, you go to Walmart, and you name it. Hell, they’ll even have their own registered, trained, non-union doctors there to painlessly attach it to you.

My neighbor giggles at this. “A woman goes to Walmart to get a second cl–”

Yes, I say, cutting him off, but I was thinking more about organ replacement and the benefits and nightmares of such technology in the hands of humans playing God. So, rather than two, I’d first ask, what happened to her original one? That seems like the gnarlier question. But with livers and kidneys and hearts, they fail sometimes. Just ask Dick Cheney. He scooted to the front of the list to get his new heart because of his outstanding work he’s done for the good of humanity.

Do you know, I ask, and lean closer to him, what happened to Dick’s old heart? Of course my neighbor didn’t know. He hadn’t thought about it. Well, the Queen of England ate it, I say.

My neighbor laughs, but his eyes remain steadily on mine.

It sounds crazy, I tell him, but that’s how the royal family is. They feed off of energy, any way they can get it. And hearts have lots of energy, both psychic and spiritual. It’s why some people eat the feet of animals, or their organs, or slit open the belly of a snake and squeeze out the juice. It’s to feed off of that animal’s energy. Same thing with the Queen. It’s a long, twisted history with them. Their family tree is knobby and succumbing to a debilitating disease that makes all the bark peel off to reveal a speckled, lizard skin beneath. But despite that decline, their principles of deceit and sucking off energy from the masses has been clear and consistent.

“I don’t know where you get your news, bro,” he says, and slaps my shoulder.

I don’t know where you get your news, either, I say. But I like to keep tabs on people like Dick Cheney. I’ve set up a Google alert for him.

“Fuck Dick Cheney,” my neighbor says. He laughs again. “I’m just thinking, bro, about taking a girl home from the club, and right when I get her pants down, she says, ‘This might freak you out, but I got two–‘”

That’s marvelous and jolly, I say. It’s like being a kid and getting to chew two sticks of gum at once, despite the fact that your father said that was wasteful. It’s like you’re getting away with one. That would be quite the future world to look forward to. In fact, that sort of speculation makes me more hopeful for humanity, and I want to go on living longer just to experience something like that. Forget about the regeneration of arms and legs, hearts and livers, the scenario you just put forth would be far more satisfying.

“When you think Walmart is going to get this technology? You think in our lifetimes?” he asks.

Not if you keep slathering that armpit paste over your lymph nodes. You’re steadily decreasing your odds. Your armpits are like sponges, and they soak up the propylene, aluminum zirconium, and irritants made from petroleum. The aluminum sticks in your brain and causes permanent damage over time. Of course, you’re not suffering from that yet. But in due time.

You too should fear underarm alarm.

And don’t tell me people have to wear deodorant, I say, cutting him off. That’s a billion-dollar myth, propagated by companies’ advertising meant to use anxiety to push you through a thousand deodorant sticks during your lifetime. Advertisers should kill themselves. Many people have said Brad Pitt doesn’t bother with deodorant or anti-perspirants. Putting it bluntly, people say he smells bad. Or, natural. It’s all about perception, anyway. And he hasn’t had any trouble making it through this world. Has he?

“Not that I can tell,” my neighbor says.

I left him abruptly, while he stood in the doorway holding his spicy bar of deodorant.


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